Maiden Voyage of the Penelope

cloud vapors kiss my skin
as I rise above the dour hat of gray
the city so often wears

as if this cap could hide
the city's aged face
dark crevices of streets
red freckles of furnaces and bonfires
that exhale toxic fumes

this city is not beautiful, true
but it is mine
it sprawls beneath my airship Penelope
a well-stained, well-loved quilt

to rise this high
I've offered my bashful schoolgirl smile
to security guards and police
earned scars from scampering over fences
wiled away hours in junkyards
sold that which should never be sold
gloved my hands in black grease

to create this small dirigible
a mishmash of metal and hours and dreams
steam engine roaring my triumph
as we float with birds
my eyes take in a million souls
that shift like blown sand
tears dapple my goggles
as I kiss the clouds in turn