Mexico City Dream

version four city has many faces with new image-2




This poem was first published in the magazine “Valley Views”, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in 1974. It is also the final chapter in my new and as-yet unpublished novel about Mexico City (“The City Has Many Faces: A love story about Mexico City).

Mexico City Dream

I wish
there was some way
to get
you & Mexico City together.

You’d enjoy it.

Your sharp blue eyes would
pick out everything
there is to see,
& you’d walk around
saying nothing
while your mind took everything in
& stored it.
What excitement
you would find there!
What material for dreams!

Museums you could
spend whole weeks in;

streets you have to
run like mad across;
kids younger
than you are
selling gum &
shining shoes.

Bunches of balloons
as big as busses—
whole great

of them

through the parks.
People selling food
from sidewalk kitchens.
Aztec ruins,
subway cars that zip along
underneath the streets.
Old churches that lean
& a castle on a hill that
you can walk through
& look at guns, uniforms
of generals,
pictures of battles,
the dream world rooms
in which the Emperor &
Empress lived.

filled with food & smells;
stalls overflowing
with flowers.

You can walk through centuries
in a week
& see things that
you never dreamed of seeing.

You meet people who don’t
know how to read,
& can go to the largest university
in the world
where there are more than
100,000 students.

There is nothing that I know of
that you can’t do or see there
(except, perhaps, swim in the ocean),
& I guarantee
that what you don’t see
your imagination can supply.

Mexico City:
from the mountains which
surround it,
it seems to be
a sea of moving lights.

& once inside it,
it is like being caught up
in a dream
that captures
your whole imagination
& you don’t want to wake
up from it.

You keep getting
balloons & chewing gum
& Aztec warriors & cars &
busses & trucks & markets
& beggars & castles & trees
that look like mountains
& candy made from cactus
& rowboats & jungles &
traffic that pours down
streets like lava & the
whistle of roast-corn
sellers & subways & clanging
bells & statues
in the way

that seize your mind &
make it
impossible to think of any-
thing else but that
great city to the south of us
sitting seven thousand feet
up in the mountains
bursting at the seams
with life in all its aspects
& its phases.

You try
getting up & walking around
& these images
still spin in your head
& make you dizzy
with excitement.

You walk out into the street
& the images
are still there,
grabbing hold & saying
“Come on back!”
There is no way you can avoid them,
shut them off,
or forget.

to blot them out
& they won’t be erased.

to focus your attention
on something else,
& that doesn’t work.

No matter
what you try to do,
the city has its hold on you,
shimmering there in the mountains,
cloaked in smog
& sounding like a volcano
about to erupt,
swelling & subsiding
& beckoning
& whispering in your ear.


About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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