Sanctuary Cities

by Levi The Poet

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A word that has fascinated me for years. A word I've spoken in poems past and written into countless others never released to the public. At the beginning of this year, I sought my own sort of sanctuary in cities whose pride is rooted in offering exactly that to whomever claimed it inside of their borders.

Sanctuary Cities exists as a part of a dual release alongside its previously released counterpart, ANXIETY.

I wrote both of them during that trip – one that felt like a shot in the dark, or a cry for help, or a cloud – and they are inextricably connected to one another. They are pieces that grew from soil tilled in the pain of searching, and the joy of those glimpses of freedom that come from walking alone along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California or the streets of Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington.

They represent a dichotomy.

Paralysis and movement.

Fear and courage.

Despair and hope.

May you find Sanctuary.


in something like a passing conversation, as
that seems to be all that we can have nowadays (and
you seem to have lost your voice
and i seem to have lost my patience
waiting on a whisper or a fire
or an earthquake
or a hurricane), i
hid myself in the cleft of northwest sanctuary cities
searching memories for rest,
for new testaments to reminiscent
projections of presuppositions
i had about you when i left.

ode to the great iconoclast,
you finally spoke through the cracks in tarmac,
"you won't find me in doubling back," you said,
"i am not done with you yet.”

and how do you teach a blind man to dance?
there is salt in these wounds, granules like pillars of pasts,
loves lost and lots cast for backward glances,
i fell for romancing the ashes and calling the cinders beauty.
when i could still see, i couldn’t believe the way that i’d backlead
slowly advance until i had highjacked every step,
i didn’t feel my hand lose grips with your left,
suddenly i wasn’t leaning back into your right,
and i constantly describe the actions
in the passive tense as if they all happened
on accident.

i knew there was dark.
i knew you were light, but
i had no idea that the white is a spectrum combined.

and iron doesn’t cease
to sharpen iron just because it sparks
a tone you don’t recognize in your tribe.

i spent 3 weeks searching the skylines
hoping i'd find the words that could free my mind.
clenched teeth, never realizing
idealizing the past is not a ticket back in time.
i mean, i keep on advertising
a line of ascent a decade sanctified...

i've been afraid to go forward with you so deeply engrained
in my image (as if you could be contained) that when i'd pray,
it was only to the idea of your name
(and it sounded so much like mine).

in something like a passing altercation that
seems to be all i can manage nowadays (and
i seem to have lost my voice
and you seem to have remained patient,
waiting on a forfeit or a dime,
or a white flag,
or a heartbreak), i
laid awake in the bed of northwest sanctuary cities
praying "god, give me rest,
these old testaments are expensive
perceptions and presuppositions
that i can no longer profess."

ode to the great iconoclast,
i finally noticed the lack in the flashback.
"you won't know me in zeros and ones and fact,
i am not through with you yet."

and how do you teach a lame man to dance?
there is pride in these wounds: i've memorized every step,
fall away and promenade and sway and
fell for equating a passing grade on a test with taking your hand.
this speck is a beam, and i can't lean on my own understanding
as a means to the same ending as suffering is.
i suffocated at the tree of knowledge,
i broke both my legs at the root of good and evil.
and if i'm to wonder beyond wondering
where the wonder went again i'm convinced
it will be in the mystery.

i've spent my life clutching fists so tight
trying to control a future i can't define.
i've kept clenched teeth, never realizing
idealizing the past is not a ticket back in time.
i mean, i keep almost abiding
in the present time like i believe it's true,
i mean, i keep almost believing
in being led into the dance with you.


released October 10, 2017
Released October 10, 2017
Lyrics: Levi The Poet
Studio Production & Engineering: Andy Othling
Music / Production: Alex Sugg / Glowhouse


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Levi The Poet Albuquerque, New Mexico

Writer and storyteller. Everything is a gift.

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