Manhole Covers

The beauty of manhole covers--what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.

by Karl Shapiro

Comments (7)

This goes to your irksome tenant as a SCOLD when you dare.
Immortality gained in the most unlikely place, by ones who never sought it, the manhole cover makers. Amazing.
It is good that we can find beauty in the functional because 80% of our manmade surroundings are functional and not creations of pure art
A beautiful poem, full of wit and style. It's similar to some that I've done. Check out my poems Tissues and The Couch
This is such an excellent back-handed compliment.
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