. Self-Exile "Parue—nec inuideo—sine me, liber, ibis in urbem.” —Ovid While driving underneath I had to pray: the tunnel, God, had better not cave in— as if New York could make the earth obey. My Lord, I won’t let New York City win. I well recall the moment's clarity as Ovid did when forced to flee from Rome. But not with tears, instead with charity. I'm free from what I used to call my home. No one told me I had to leave midday. I didn't have to slink away at night. New York's Mayor couldn't have made me stay. But if he could would he have stopped my flight? What if he knew that all my worldly wares (besides the stuff I crammed into my car), the pension, bank savings, the Wall-Street shares and every dime I'll happily spend afar, in some quaint rural cow-surrounded town or Mexico if traveling by bus— whatever place I choose to settle down, would he pursue this single exodus? I sold the furniture but not the books. I left some plants I'd had for thirty years. Endured my friends' mostly envious looks, a "you'll be back," and some derisive sneers. Unlike Ovid, I had no distraught wife that needed consolation, her tears washed, or daughter with a separated life. Those dreams the city had already quashed. I had a job but what the hell was that? No more cubicles, no more clacking keys. No more in the fluorescent habitat, with half a dozen soulless Bartlebys. Yet somehow in that city I found God. But I won't camp inside the catacombs. The tunnel is a glorious promenade compared to those dark passages of Rome's. Ovid sent up multiple prayers and wails to many gods that they might change his course. He kissed a hearth, discerned a bird's entrails. Nothing he did could stop that great divorce. Mine, however, gives me the greatest joy. I'd write this on a theater marquee: He must have used the city as a ploy because I never prayed but God found me. Maybe John Paul II was right when he said New York reigns as capital of the world. Which one? Dante's city for hell's own dead where God's greatest light deniers are hurled? Or maybe Augustine's city of man— yes, filled with many people who believe yet cannot stop the vandals with their plan to riot, pillage, loot and burn and thieve? When that last altar in that city closes then flee and don't look back while God disposes. . . Geoffrey Smagacz writes from South Carolina and Mexico. A collection of his fiction, published under the title of A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills (Wiseblood Books, 2013), won the 2014 Independent Publisher gold medal for Best Mid-Atlantic Regional Fiction. His rhymed and metered poetry has also been published in various literary magazines and e-zines, including The Classical Poetry Society, 14 by 14 and Dappled Things. Look for Geoffrey's latest novel, Reportedly Murdered: A Gregory Thackery Mystery (Wipf and Stock Publishers), in April (fingers crossed), written under his nom de plume, Geoffrey Walters.