City Beautiful by John Faithful Hamer

In 1881, Mark Twain described Montreal as a city “where
you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window.”
In 2015, we might describe Montreal as a city where
you can’t throw a brick without hitting something beautiful.

Seriously, you can’t even walk to the pharmacy,
on a warm June night, to pick up some garbage bags,
without being left speechless again and again and again.

Oh, and let me be clear: the beauty of which I speak,
the beauty of this great city, is not the natural
and thus accidental beauty of BC or Banff; no,
Montreal’s beautiful because it wants to be.

Something wonderful is happening in this city,
despite corruption scandals that would make
a Latin American dictator blush;

despite crumbling municipal infrastructure that’s made
much of downtown look like the perfect place to shoot
a post-apocalyptic disaster movie;
despite a federal government hell-bent on destroying
everything we love about Canada,
and a provincial government hell-bent on destroying
everything we love about Quebec.

Despite all of these things, and against all odds,
there’s a buzz of creativity here right now
unlike anything I’ve seen before in my lifetime.

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