Refuge of My People


This is Rensselaer, a town in upstate New York.

This is the story of a town that has no identity. It’s one unspoken treasure is a diverse array of people, who bring with them their memories and cultures. They bring with them their culture, although this city doesn’t have its own. They come to this place seeking more than what the world has given and in this city they’re given a chance to grow. They want more than to squirm along, as if life is a meaningless fight for survival. The world tries to make them into something else; this place accepts them for who they are, because this place is essentially nothing. We all want to belong. This is a place of refuge for people who have nowhere else to go.

Some of us were born here, while others come for miles. Those who are born here can never figure out what brings people from other continents to our city. We assume its moderate housing prices, low taxes and affordable schooling, but for some reason it never adds up. There’s nothing significant that would attract them to us. I’ve always asked myself, ‘what brings people to this place?’ I’ve lived here all my life and even I can’t find it on a map! It continues to happen that I must ask, because more and more diverse cultures are overriding those that came before them. The city remains, yet the stories we’ve known are starting to fade into the backdrop.

We’re a diverse biosphere of people divided by races and ideologies. There are so many that come to this place and bring new traditions and folklore. They bring the tales of their people, which they cling to for support. This is our city. We’ve no name to unite us, no cause to rally our people. We’re all part of a system that doesn’t seem to belong to us. We come here, as if this place is but a way-station, before we’re off to our final destination. We imagine a greater future. We imagine something to give us hope.

This place isn’t what we look for when we think of hope. This is a place for journeymen to wait out the storm. They bring amazing stories of impossible feats of strength, yet their traditions never remain. Their legends are not those of our people. They carry along in whispers, yet this city has no history of its own. This is the true nature of life; ethereal dreams wafting along behind us, until we pull them into the present and force them into existence. For the time, this place is refuge from a dangerous, bleak world.

Still, however morose it might seem, I dream of that glorious day. I think it would be the best thing for us to have the foul wizardry that protects us dissolve into nothing and leave us vulnerable to predators. It would either unite us or destroy everything we’ve created. We’d be forced to defend ourselves, forced to come together and protect this place. If that happens, we’d have to find something sacred, something worth fighting for. That thing has yet to reveal itself. It’s here, somewhere, within the ether of our illusions. It takes so long to reveal itself, because it’s so precious and finite the world would chew it away, like a worm digging its way through an apple. We can hardly deny our attraction to it, this pulse that once triggered brings us into life and if we can temper it, if we can feed the flame it will either destroy us or set us free.

But, why ruin a good thing? Maybe this town is just destined to be a holding point, a Purgatory for us lost souls until we reach our heaven or hell. For some, we’ve been here so long that it’s become a hell, as any holding point should become when we’ve waited for our time to come and somehow it passes us by. Waiting for salvation is our longest standing tradition. For now, we bide our time in refuge, until reality asserts itself and the wave of time rolls back to pull us apart, as we were always meant to be.


19 thoughts on “Refuge of My People

  1. Hi estprophet518. Sounds like so many places its the people that make the community. Its somewhere not to visit yet somewhere that would allow my imagination to explore! Thank you for wanting to follow my poetry adventures. I am very interested in all things paranormal and observing life! Writing is a passion that keeps me alive and sane! Great to meet you. The Foureyed Poet.

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  2. Love your blog. I lived in a few places exactly like that. I guess for a wanderer like me, these places should feel like home, since most of us would feel the same. But we tend to hate these places and each other. Guess we’re too much alike, and don’t like the similarities we see. Having said that, looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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  3. As someone who moved into Rensselaer as a small kid from Europe in 1954 and who still remembers clearly the nine or ten months of living there in an apartment with my parents until moving out into Columbia County and the world thereafter, I love the quality of writing and the truth of place that is found in this post. I think you’re exactly right about this town (I return there on occasion) and other post industrial cities in America. Keep up the fine work!

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  4. I commend you on your incredible writing! I may have never been to Rensselaer, but I think you captured the town in a uniquely accurate way. I have ancestors who actually lived in Rensselaer back in the 1700s, born there but moved to Ohio soon after 1800. So when you describe the journeymen and feeling like a way-station to something else, I can see and understand how my ancestors may have felt, as well. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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