A frame, a skeleton, another crane, another construction site, a point of destruction, a high rise, a hole in the earth, a makeshift environment, an unwanted site like Washington in the 1980’s. A tent, an encampment, the rent is due, an eviction, rent paid, the bank, eviction granted, the courts, the shelter, the judges, the capitalist state, the bulldozers. A disruption, a bottled-up mess, total disregard, a pile of corruption, Oakland, but not Oakland alone. It’s every major city.
Especially those with a substantial number of black folks. And sometimes smack dab in the middle of the black community, or what was the black community. Gentri cation, 7th Street West Oakland. Used to be known as “urban renewal,” or rather negro-removal.
The funding, the grants, the availability, the funding sources, the resources, the financial planners, the bailout, the investment banks, the brokers, the investors, the debt, the allowances, the financial gain, the expenditures, the community block grants, the pro t, the net gain, the pro t losses, the greed factor. Money laundering, a mayor, a city councilperson, an investor, a real estate broker, a developer, an envelope, a mannequin with coins falling, a reinvention of a wheel, a day of kick back, the slush fund, payola, another envelope, the cost.
A pink elephant in the room, the disenfranchised, the destitute, the dispossessed, disqualified, in a nutshell, the urban poor. The low-income, those unable, the on the fringes, the on the brink, the homeless, the other America. An encampment, a project building, a developed tenement building, a slum, a dwelling unsuitable.
The American dream, a house the size of a matchbox. An eagle coughing, collapsing, and crumbling. The disgrace, the horror, the tragedy, the nightmare, the painstaking greed, the raging evil, the sickness of a society. The lth, 30 pieces of silver, manifest destiny, the eminent domain, the conquest, a dominant force, gentrification, a pitiful grin, another tent.
Charles Blackwell is a nationally and internationally published poet who lives in Oakland.