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Centuries before Covid-19 hit

A pandemic infected this country.

And since it was a plague, we ignored it.

We whitewashed genocide and slavery.

We wore politically corrected masks

To shield others from verbal aerosol.

Treating the symptoms was a short-term task.

Red, blue and white pride came before this fall.

Historic disparities reared their heads.

Structural biases waged their impacts.

Statistics mattered, after all was said

 By white men in power disputing facts.

Racism, the plague we chose to ignore,

Led coronavirus to Black folks’ door.

URBAN FORTRESSES II (more sonnets on gentrification)


The truth is that somebody used to live here.

This hipster coffee house was once a home.

The espresso bar sits where dad drank beer.

Black coffee’s now soy lattes with no foam.

That Starbucks used to be a laundromat,

And that real-estate office was a bar.

That Air B & Bs used to be three flats.

Boston’s Beef levelled for a lot for cars.

Artists’ lofts reuse long-closed factories,

And suburbanites claim urban zip codes.

While caged birds sing in penitentiaries,

Family homes are bought for taxes owed.

Gentrifiers re-imagine places

In their own image- but they’re not racist.


Middle class supplanted working class

Residents and their impoverished ilk.

Planned obsolescence of the “ghetto pass”

Is like a blunt object wrapped up in silk:

You see it coming, but it’s so pretty,

You’re mesmerized… until that fatal thump!

That’s the “circle of life” in the city:

Up-and-coming neighborhoods rise from slums.

Mixed-income neighborhoods… act as “buffers.”

The “golden rule” is often mis-stated.

The point is not “doing unto others”

As much as how one’s credit is rated.

For poor folk, “housing choice” is not a choice

Because power only hears money’s voice.


UNTITLED (on the state of the union)

Ever-increasing ev’ryday bullshit

Momentarily overwhelms logic.

From the white house, from their bully pulpits

They spew verbal chum that would make dogs sick!

The free mind finds no solace in this truth.

They are just wise enough… not to partake.

The emperor wears only his false tooth.

Sociopaths don’t get, “for goodness’ sake.”

Empathy and civility are lost

When administrations become regimes.

The first family thinks they’re above the law.

Cast away former “allies” reveal schemes.

Turn state’s evidence, as they make plea deals.

Facts so outrageous they just don’t seem… real.

​DREAM UNTITLED (a reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

I wrote this piece, and performed it in front of a few hundred people accompanied by one of my former apprentices, Brenda Gilbert (aka Windy Indy) on violin at Benedictine University’s annual scholarship breakfast in 2016.

“To dream, or not to dream,” you kidding me?

What an absurd question to ask… today

A day with many of us still not free

To even let our kids go out to play

Today is the day of black lives matter

Because those before said, “I am a man.”

Untitled dreams fade, as the brain scatters

“Honoring his dream”, means, “us making plans”

Dreams can become rainchecks never redeemed.

Dream deferred? Squandered opportunity.

Each day is a chance to dream a new dream

Or plan on making dreams realities.

So to conclude this sonnet’s recital

Thanks Dr. King, for your dream untitled.

Originally published on January 15, 2017.