All in a Name

A poetic picture of Utica's resilience.


by Richard M. Barrett, a poet of Mohawk, NY


Handshake City.

Gritty, working class, a cultural potpourri,

once a vibrant hub teeming

with barges, trolleys, trains and buses.

A foundation of thriving commerce, mass production, and progress,

on which generations of immigrant families were built.


Some stayed, many fled

when doors closed and windows shuttered,

and mills and factories vacated and fell sadly silent,

Letting the rust creep in and gnaw at the mettle

Of a city that once possessed the strength of steel.


In the belly of the beast, the flame of Hope dimmed,

but never extinguished,

valiantly fighting for its life until

a breath of fresh air swept in,

and stoked the smoldering embers

into a raging bonfire of optimism,

warming hearts and shining a light

where there once was only darkness.


The name meant old town in one ancient language,

In another, it translated to new city.

In Roman times, she was the capital of New Africa,

A pearl of the Mediterranean

but today, she’s a sturdy model of resilience,

hearkening back

to the glory days of her proud namesake:

Utica.

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