J.E. Stanley at Jim’s Coffeehouse & Diner in Elyria, Ohio — photo by JB 


City of Bridges
by J.E. Stanley

I am the Keeper of Bridges
in the City of Bridges.
The Travelers always ask
where the bridge will take them.
I tell them Heaven.
I tell them Hell.
I tell them the Void
and there’s no turning back.
I always lie.
They always believe.

If it’s late October
and the snow falls early,
I might tell them that the bridge
will take them to May
and the pure breezes of spring.
I’ll say that it’s a long walk,
but there’s a diner at the halfway point
with pie and coffee,

shelter and cigarettes.

I may promise that the world
of their dreams lies on the other side,
then tell them that the journey will change them
and their dreams will lose all meaning.

If it is a lost child, I might say,
“The bridge will take you home.”

I never reveal the truth:
that this is the City of Bridges

where Bridge

leads to Bridge

leads to Bridge. . .


* * * * *

“City of Bridges” comes from the chapbook Rapid Eye Movement — (c) 2011 by J.E. Stanley — published by Crisis Chronicles Press.  The poem originally appeared in Sybil’s Garage and The 2010 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Poetry of 2009.


J.E. Stanley is an accountant and on again/off again guitarist from the grayscale suburban wilderness of Northeastern Ohio where he is lucky enough to hang out with the Deep Cleveland Poets and the Cleveland Speculators. His other books include Selected Regions of the Moon (NightBallet Press), Dark Intervals (vanZeno Press), Dissonance (Deep Cleveland Press) and, co-authored with Joshua Gage, Intrinsic Night (Sam’s Dot Publishing). His work has appeared in Amaze, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Cinema Spec, the Deep Cleveland Junkmail Oracle, Paper Crow, The Rhysling Anthology, Scifaikuest, Sein und Werden, Star*Line, Sybil’s Garage and numerous other mainstream and genre publications. He continues to assert that, winged or not, Man was always meant to fly; the moon and stars were just put there as incentives.