Universal City by Heather A Davis

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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, 
	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.