I dreamed about a city you designed A second tier city twisted in progressive renewal born from urban theories planned in university towns Standing in its square, I begged for pennies While all around me you built alternative solutions Transit stations and bike paths, brick by universal brick Stop, I said, the city’s taking over, a thing marching on its people But you didn’t listen, and instead talked about a building’s fashion sense The noise became so loud, I stopped talking No one could hear me over the engine roars from buses vying for road space with drivers parked in bus lanes and cars screeching to avoid the bicyclists who were jilting traffic laws On a box, outside your office, I stood in silence with the homeless in Tent City People who had been moved out of sight from tourists in the newly revitalized Inner Harbor “The sky is falling down,” My sign declared, rhetorical, pretentious, designed to catch the rolling eye But no one was watching They were protesting the transit administration over scarcity of its own planners riding the buses They had planned all the routes via downtown making one-way commuter rides two hours long Hedging bets on poverty’s back So I walked along a bike path you had built at the harbor’s edge The river water had turned to stone, and luxury condos were going up for the view Up you moved in the city ranks, working on other cities Just like this one A universal design I went home To a row house near the drug-infested award-winning park While waiting for your answer, I filled my days watching the alley rats Who ate through the concrete patio’s wooden fences that you said would raise the house equity I tried again. Unsatisfied with script neglected, I joined the protestors Those numbered voices against unreasoned legislation, a last resort Finally, you passed me on your way to lunch with the mayor You looked at me, a mere glance, and then I heard The voice of a city dying
BIO: Heather A Davis is an award-winning writer, spoken word poet (as a member of the 5th Woman Touring Collective), radio show producer / host, budding documentary film-maker, and PhD student. She is a long-standing community activist, and her professional career has been spent working in media / communications, public affairs, and research, both in the US and abroad. Her work has previously appeared in Liquid Imagination, as well as the Knoxville Mercury, American Diversity Report, and the National Academy of Medicine’s Visualize Health Equity project, among others.