an online showcase curated by Maya Kóvskaya



by Nick Rossi



Parking the car
Stepping out into the street
Splashed with sun and the scents of springtime
You’re struck by the scrape of stones
Under the tire of a distant truck
And an overwhelming sense of safety
An odd kind of serenity
Almost sterility
Something distinctly uncitylike
Something unlike the screeching streets of Chicago
Something present only in its absence
Something oppressive in its ignorance
Or in its innocence

Stepping off the street
In sight of the freight line
You find yourself in cool corridors
Of glass storefronts
Walking in the dim light
Of the “community of resources”
The beacon of burgeoning business
The grail of the twenty-somethings
The safe haven of the self-hating bourgeois
Clad in tight khakis and cardigans
And you see the
Handmade products and services
Through every window
To be consumed by the comfortable
Moonlighting as rugged urbanites
Slumming it in sight of the freight line
But never standing at the tracks
Or upon them
Always safe behind the plates of glass
And you feel separate
Internally and inherently
From the desktops and dollar signs that sit
In shorts and sandals
With salary and benefits
In sight of the freight line
And you seethe at the sense of smug contentment that surrounds you
Before he says,

“Excuse me, sir.”

And you turn to see a man in his mid-twenties
Backwards hat and braids
Bent over his cart of bags and bottles
Blankly blinking at you as you stand still in the middle of the hallway
Before saying,

“Sorry, man.”

And stepping back against the wall
Pressing up against framed prints of Broadway and the Bridgestone
Feeling the words pressing up from your stomach
Feeling the urge to let him know
That you know
About Baltimore
And Mike Brown
And #ICantBreathe
And driving while black
And the school to prison pipeline
And the devaluation of black bodies
And the stereotypes of smokers of crack pipes
And “revitalization” as a euphemism for gentrification
And the systematic stripping of resources from the community
And the men missing for the length of a mandatory minimum
And the sixteen bullets inside Laquan McDonald
And the shouts of Sandra Bland
And the murder of Fred Hampton
And the face of Emmett Till
And the mockery of the minstrel
And the strange fruit hanging in 1892
And the pain of many pickers for the pocket profit of the few
And the thousands of other guilts inside of you
Pushing into your throat and onto your tongue
Until you open your mouth
And all that comes out is,


But he has his headphones in
And he nods as he raps softly under his breath
Until he’s past and you’re left to look at the reflection of
A twenty-something in tight khakis and a cardigan
Silent and self-hating in sight of the freight line



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