Lit Issue 2017 | Poetry

Dear Englewood

Tonika Johnson

Only those of us who come from you
understand. Even within the inner core of your
madness there is beauty. This is the side of you that has never been seen.
Today they say bad things about you, their reports are
short-sighted, good to suit the taste of today’s sensations.
But I still love you Englewood. Your harsh realities became the chisel
that shaped my soul. I didn’t forget about you Englewood, Dear Englewood
We made your vacant lots playgrounds
Milk crates were carved and cut for full court
Old sneakers became street ornaments that dangle
From your power lines
Your fire hydrants transformed our corners into water parks
at dawn we pitched pennies along the cracks of your concrete
Dear Englewood… your blocks were our universities
Your corners became the designated location for our panel discussions
your night-time skies were our philosophers,
your alcoholics were our poets, but only those of us who come
from you would understand. In the spring your rain drops
became our libations, the rain water that accumulated in your potholes became our wishing wells. I often think of you Englewood…Dear Englewood what would our lives have been like if you weren’t economically deprived? Would I have had fewer friends who lost their lives? Would there have been better schools and parks?
Would I have seen fewer lives fall apart?

Lit Issue 2017 | Poetry

At the Storefront

Tucker Kelly

I eyed widely
things I couldn’t buy.
“Nice!” and “New!” nosed, but no.
Posted:
MISSING PEOPLE. People-missing.
Below something, behind peepholes.
I would too. I have to. I have two.
I know.
Flipped sign. Closing time.
“Goodbye.”
“Have a good one.”
“I’ll try.”

Lit | Lit Issue 2017 | Poetry

In City Summers

Vida Cross’s poetry collection paints Bronzeville in rich texture

Vida Cross’s Bronzeville at Night: 1949 is full of spells—spells to protect children, spells to blind ignorant sociologists, spells to aid in grieving and remembrance. The poet, professor, and third-generation Chicagoan’s debut poetry collection is a web of stories that, like spells, are small in scope and broad in impact.

Lit Issue 2017 | Poetry

Lula Mae

They are fixing up the neighborhood
without you,
belle of my boulevard, Lula Mae:
I hoped you would come again today
wearing your favorite black shoe.
Oh you, mother to the street corner child
who knew their names, cried for the nameless too.

Arts Issue 2017 | Poetry

At the Center of Trauma

Jasmin Liang

In last week’s issue, the Weekly cited a DNAinfo report about a large-scale planned development on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital. The city has issued a request for development proposals on the site and is expected to make a decision next month. Our Stage & Screen editor Nicole Bond, in the tradition of Gwendolyn Brooks’s “verse journalism,” wrote the following epitaph for Michael Reese in 2012. We reproduce it here as a testament to the passing of time.

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