South Side Poetry Suite, Part II of VI

Continuing my post from yesterday, here is part two of my six-part suite of poems about the South Side of Chicago, White Flight, home, and exile, for National Poetry Month.
South Side Suite, Part II: The Set-Up

  1. Blacks in the Chi, for decades making green,
  2. seeing red in the ghetto, screened in by a greed machine.
  3. {beat} Try to rent outside, stay quiet;
  4. Terrorized by white race riots.
  5. No better in subsidized spots for veterans:
  6. “Welcome in! Here’s a firebomb to help you you settle in!”
  7. Well, then, ‘til ‘66, no fair housing;
  8. Restricted selling to Blacks was allowed,
  9. so neighborhood racists, with their priests, the phonies,
  10. had legal basis to keep it whites only,
  11. and even if you forage and uncover in this shortage,
  12. a pad, the government don’t insure mortgages
  13. for Blacks, so the banks, your loan they won’t back,
  14. so the only way to buy is from brokers on contract:
  15. build no equity, take on all the risk;
  16. one check late, then they can evict you,
  17. like a rental, except that repairs are your load,
  18. and they’ll pay the inspectors to catch you for code
  19. violation: collect it, resold, in rotation.
  20. Got rich ‘cause they rigged it, a trick, exploitation.
  21. Crunch the numbers, estimations say
  22. they bilked a million dollars a day
  23. from Black Chicago, then blamed them for slums,
  24. said, “Your culture’s the culprit; You live like bums!”

  25. Segregation — government policy,

  26. regulating with utter dishonesty.
  27. Peg their hate, gut the economy;
  28. {beat} check-taking judges paskening.
  29. But even when laws fall, out of the ghetto walls,
  30. where they ‘sposed to go when apostles of Paul
  31. ignite the crosses, lynch, and toss bricks?
  32. {beat} The Christ ethic of the white ethnics,
  33. huddling at mass, burning to free
  34. their turf from the taint of Blacks and liberty.
  35. “Please, go easy, no! You’re squeezing my throat!
  36. I’d very much rather keep my ears closed!
  37. Terror attacks the posse approach?!”
  38. Yeah, read Beryl Satter and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
  39. So most would choose to move near the Jews,
  40. the only Caucasian group who approved
  41. of integration, didn’t roll like criminals,
  42. political principle, like Diderot.
  43. Said, “Come, ring our bell”, like Biv Devoe,
  44. kiss under Mistletoe, get hitched, like Figaro.
  45. But here we go; I’ve got to bark and whistle blow;
  46. though it was far from Marquette Park or Cicero,
  47. ’cause there’s a dark, cold part of the hearts of the liberals.
  48. House gets sold to Blacks, they ditch and go,
  49. move out their home, in the middle of the night:
  50. no threats, no bricks, just split — White Flight.
  51. Donations to the NAACP
  52. don’t say Nada if Colored People make you retreat
  53. when they move to your street, go to school with your children,
  54. so you’re willing to freeze and lose all you’ve been building.
  55. Ignited a blight, overnight, I indict
  56. you: ‘66 is when the Jews became White.

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