I am real. The speaking living source power. My face locked, soul loaded. Constitution gripping, music making, spell singing license taking, teeth baring, lip reading, dynamic hostility’s rebuke. Only my knuckles are white.
You suspect we control the currents. You know we are the future.
Keep voting. You cannot usurp our joy.
Whence the Lake Cools
We watched steel cool like islands. Break and breeze. A watch, a pension, time dimmed lights, closed Broadway.
Air flowed through rains when steel ran real and spit out cash. Steel saved; we saved; steel tried. No one looked when Grandma lived across from that police. He locked his door, took off his gun, turned on the tube and slept. We set alarms midday.
You see the risk of open doors unlocked when you’re inside afraid of empty streets.
James Brown lit the marquee. Chuck Berry lit the marquee. Five Jacksons grew up right here. A talent show, a murmur, a shout, our claim.
Long past the steel mills’ fulsome life the air smells like the steel still forms, and trucks—so few-- go forth on streets where lights held flame. A riot of dance and song.
-- Tina Boyer Brown is the Creative Writing Department Head and a founding teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She is a lead teacher for the Summer Poetry Institute for Educators in Chicago sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Her work also appears in The Journal of Education, RHINO Poetry, and POETRY Magazine.