Something about the water here

Must have made you stay, we figure

Looking over your reservoir walls, at quiet canals

That, pushing the paper had carried your city’s pulse


Following the footless path to your vision’s end

We say, with pride and love and hope these blocks were born

To dreamers foreign

Hordes were drawn by their grand plans, the dams

First of their kind

To build streets up from printed grid instead of cowpath

To build a people out of oaths that we’d get by

On paper mills that filled the world with what you judged better than forest

Ream after ream shipped flat and neat and plain and clean

The same old hope and prayer and scream

Grant any dream out there a shot to go from thought to thing


Every page gone yellow in due time

Like the teeth of old women and men, from talking too long

Or the sky of a ruined thunder

Straining by evening through somebody’s wasted day

Paper planes we flew around the world come back and lay

Dirty, brown and black, nothing more than trash


You walk through it just like we do

Hinting what they say of quicksand is a myth

Dam it all

The future of this town was written by your feet

Every shadow that you dropped becoming an iron beam

What blossomed in your time with electric waterfalls and homesteads ripe for charity

Or deepening into concrete dells, the better to hold your place


Where did your years fly away to with our patron saints of industry

Leaving behind every prayer?

Dam it

This is what comes of your writing out dreams in steel

We fall in love with your shadows

While brick and mortar blueprints seal us into suffering

And new wars brew because you killed the forest

There can be no virtue in your company

Nor light in legends born so long before us


And yea though you’ve left us

We are the specters

We are the ghosts

We are the ones who’ve already had our turn

Those who remember you say we’re polluting good bones

Paper at least will burn till nothing’s left


When will you haunts be gone?

Till gods are forbidden and paper’s a shame

Some of us still say one day you’ll all come marching home

Go, men of fabled power, turn away

If failing you means only honesty

Do us the only justice left, and fold

Let paper towns burn down

And people grown here rest

You’ve troubled all this time to not forget


Shattered glass sparkles

Sharper than diamond, wondering what price is for

Rose-sized dandelions tremble in the meaning of a weed

Birthday wrap is spilling out of empty lots and concrete cracks

Crumpled tassels, bits of sparkling green

Tattered silver waving at the corners of our eyes

Dying to remind us we’re alive

Still trash

Just paper of a bright and shiny kind


Limping along the road, there goes our Child Left Behind

Dreaming still, through glimpses of blue twilight that stay like magic under arching alleyways

Each grimy brick worth kissing, and your worship weighing every step like lead

And your echoes ringing out in every swear

We see again the old war’s dead, looking through the wrong end of a telescope

Screaming to us, “Hold! Hold!”



Instead of lighting paper up

We fold


A thousand paper cranes, they cry

Another kind of prayer

Trees cut down would grow again to bless

The stress of fingers seeking perfect crease

The heart in any dream for life or peace


This is our cry

This is our swear

Ten thousand paper wings are gonna fly