South Side Poetry Suite, Part III of VI

Following Part I and Part II, which appeared over the past two days, here is Part III 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 III: White Flight

  1. Fled like refugees, quick, not roughin’ it.
  2. Settled in spots with restrictive covenants,
  3. unenforced by complicit governments,
  4. speculators running it — naw, I ain’t lovin’ it.
  5. There’s a public enemy tryna get you outta Dodge,
  6. but listen all of y’all, this is sabotage.
  7. Sowing fear, so you flee, but believe you’re on Hajj.
  8. Fool, the only Pharoahe you should follow is Monch.
  9. Your North Shore tour is boring and callous,
  10. in your boorish palace, lording with your phallus.
  11. Say you’re from the Chi, like Papa George Halas,
  12. but stay away north, like Aurora Borealis.
  13. Live in traffic, bail for the golf course,
  14. psychosomatic male pattern baldness.
  15. Material addict, crap is worthless,
  16. American Pastoral, hide the berserkness.
  17. Stowaways in ridiculous boxes,
  18. frozen faces — botulinium toxin.
  19. Your freedom’s auctioned, the more you’re locked in:
  20. {beat} check it out, it’s elementary, Watson.
  21. You rowed off course; switch your coxswain.
  22. {beat} If you don’t feel guilty, a pox on
  23. your house, your 3-car garage, your minivan.
  24. {beat} I’m a grouch, cause you’re garbage, a mini-man.
  25. Really, ma’am, please, sir, you’re living a myth.
  26. Lethal, but nothing to say, like a Sith.
  27. You chose to be blind, see, your world’s homogeneous;
  28. you know what you see, myopiate genius.
  29. {beat} I resent that you don’t resent
  30. that they co-opted your memory, made you forget
  31. fled the city and amnesiized;
  32. when you see me say, “You STILL live on the South Side?!”


  1. They were cogs, time’s up, ain’t got no clock stopper.
  2. Flood — friends fled like frogs from Doc Hopper.
  3. {beat} Block choppers won — game over;
  4. {beat} took the money and run, left an odor.
  5. No joke, no bluff, I see it clear:
  6. folks do bad stuff when choked with fear.
  7. I’m smoking mad, but have room for empathy:
  8. vultures, toughs, evoked the refugee
  9. memory, stoked their panic reflex,
  10. threatening ‘Go the path of T-Rex’.
  11. Corporate Cossacks, not a few of them Jewish;
  12. the clueless tools were toothless, foolish.
  13. {beat} Real villains are realtor block busters,
  14. shaking down the neighbors, making paper, hustlers
  15. mustling and slaying, slicing like butchers
  16. preying on fear like Ashton Kutcher.
  17. Paid to go covert, like Raymond Burr,
  18. a Black gal with stroller, agent provocateur.
  19. the reaction is spurred and sped when the enzyme
  20. stacks the deck, catalyzes the redline.
  21. Same in Detroit, Newark, Bronx:
  22. Black folks come, whites run en masse.
  23. Communities bust, trust rust in dust,
  24. suppress their angst, I’m left in disgust.
    1) Folks’ old friends think the hood’s a goner.
    2) Shocked that we still live south, around there.
    3) Peaced when the neighborhood mixed, mulatto.
    4) Flee like thieves from Lone Ranger & Tonto.
    5) Quick get-away, like an El Dorado;
    6) community vanished with a magic wand.
    7) Adios to their values, Avada Kedavra.
    8) Played abierto, but really cerrado.
    9) Forgot — integration was their kvetch, their motto;
    10) ditched the city for kitsch in mono.
    11) Said they’re staying, now they’re Benedict Arnold,
    12) couldn’t share the globe like Rajon Rondo.
    13) I always felt welcome, like Mr. Kotter.
    14) When you trust your neighbors, you’re rich like Lotto.
    15) so I’m stuck in a moment, like The Edge and Bono,
    16) see, the South Side’s home; it’s my badge of honor.

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