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?

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

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