It Mostly Rhymes

An ever-growing variety of verses about city-making and breaking

Camilla Siggaard Andersen
3 min readFeb 12, 2023

To build a place

It takes a while
To build a place
That brings a smile
To every face

It takes some time
Of trial and error
To build a place
That’s better, fairer

Let the people
Fill the space
Day by day
To build a place.

Smart cities

Smart cities
Smart places
Big data to share
Smart knowing
Who’s going
To what, why, and where

Smart houses
Smart meters
Smart gadgets galore
Smart learning
Who’s earning
And who’s keeping score

The world’s getting smarter
But wiser no more.

The 15 minute city

15 minutes
More or less
To get to work
From your address

15 minutes
Give or take
To find a place
To catch a break

Days are longer
Journeys shorter
Easy living
In a quarter

Social value

Find a measure
Check it twice
Every treasure
Has a price

And any joy
That can’t be sold
Is hardly worth
It’s weight in gold

For any voice
on planet Earth
Must have a rate
To have a worth

I wonder what
We really pay
To measure life
In such a way.

20th century urban planning

Build a tower: make it tall
Let it scrape the sky
Build a suburb: make it sprawl
Let city centres die

Build a road: make it wide
Run it through the town
Let it stretch from side to side
Never slow it down

Build a city: make it grey
Add another tower
Lay the roads
To pave the way
For greater wealth and power

Little did we know back then
That building by the whims of men
Who wanted fast and wanted tall
Was not the better way at all.

Human-centred design

Think about a person’s height
And what is in their line of sight
Think about the way they walk
How well they hear
How loud they talk

Think about a person’s day
And what they need along the way
Think about a person’s gain
What brings them joy?
What gives them pain?


“We can’t afford another tree,”
The council said, regrettably,
“They cost too much and grow too slow,
We need returns on what we sow
How else will the people know
Everything we’ve done?
We’ll buy the trees another year
Unless the money’s gone.”

Public life

You never know who you might meet
Outside your door, along the street
In places public, open-wide,
Where strangers wander side-by-side.
Through the park, across the square,
Crowded pathways everywhere!
A friendly smile, a cautious gaze
Before you go your separate ways.

Cycling life

Pedalling forwards
Or falling behind
The state of the road
Is a state of the mind
Whether asphalt or gravel
In sun or in rain
If you stay in the saddle
You’ll catch up again

Natural amenities

I like the sea
For what it’s worth
The breeze and trees
For what it’s worth
I’d like to buy
For what it’s worth
The clear blue sky
Above our earth

But everyone must learn to tell
The worth of things, we cannot sell.

Healthy streets

Start with space for people walking.
Make it safe to ride a bike.
Add some space for people talking:
benches, corners, and the like.

Next you make the edges active,
changing uses through the day.
Windows, pretty and attractive;
places people want to stay.

When the evening’s getting late
and darkness falls upon the street,
carefully illuminate
the surface under people’s feet.

Last (not least) attend the trees
to deal with rain, pollution, shade;
And plants that welcome birds and bees
to the healthy street you’ve made.

By the Jacques Cartier Bridge

Five bars of steel cut into the city
into our city.
What were we
before the bridge brought disintegration?

Caught in separation
we blame our parents who could have foreseen (forewarned) the future.
Progress: cars connecting places
not people.

Like knives they are,
cutting away at the fabric of our lives.
We are specks of dust across a vast ocean of memory.
In time we trust (though time was never a remedy for times moving forwards)
Cars moving forward, cars moving through, cars crossing over, cars waiting to enter
the end.

(We are no longer but in the echoes of the I’s living on the edge of
driving off
a bridge.)