by Richard Luftig
If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.
– Attributed to Mark Twain.
This is the town that turned its back to the railroads,
so sure that the steamboats out on the Ohio
would run forever, where the guy who built
the Brooklyn Bridge came to build another one
as if an afterthought. It is the place that named itself
Porkopolis and wondered why people back east
wouldn’t move there, the city that sent a president
to the White House so fat that he couldn’t
get out of his bathtub, that has a football team
so bad that in case of a tornado the safest
spot to be is in their stadium because
there’s never been a touch down there.
It has a street named for a guy banned from baseball
for life, and a college called Miami that has fended
off bad weather jokes for two-hundred years.
You never know when winter ice storms will snap
oak trees to kindling, or if the river will thaw in February,
and in summer you might ask the mosquitos for a ride to work.
Yes, I know it’s the town where the Chicken Dance gets played
at every wedding and the Macarena never goes out of style.
But yet… I remember this land where the newest houses
were built during the Great Depression, front porches are still
used to ward off August, and windows remain open all night
just to hear river barges echoing in their summer songs.