Ode on Rodia's Towers
by
Ralph C. La Rosa



Urban Historians!

    

 

You well-wrought towers,
all raised in Watts for over thirty years,
were born of Sam's delight with city trash:
its broken dishes, shattered soda bottles;

Its metal railroad rods and chicken wire;
its disused tools of gardeners and masons;
its cookie cutters, cast-off toys, and mirrors;
its radiant tiles from kilns in Malibu;
and from the beach,

polished shells and stones that he aligned as bredes* of men or gods.

Whatever struck his fancy graced your doors,
gazebos, towers, pinnacles, and niches:

all rich mosaics rendered by his hands
to prove there's truth in trash,
and beauty too.

*La Rosa's poem is an echo and tribute to Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn"; he very cleverly borrows his pun on brede (ornamental embroidery) to also mean breed (race, kind):
the "brede of marble men" depicted on the urn.