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This is a visual interpretation of my six-word story by an AI app called Wonder. It’s a pretty cool app, but it is definitely biased in favor of images of white people. If you don’t explicitly state, “black man,” the app will usually draw white man.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom.”Maya Angelou
The caged bird
Is gagged and
No longer sings
A song of freedom.
Now instead it shrieks
A muffled atonal opus
To glorify its captivity.
Once morning ritual
No longer crescendos
Into melodious anthem
Of the hope and break of
A new day’s dawning.
Now it tweets
A cacophonous dirge
Of dystopian unrest instead of peace.
The caged bird’s
Of taking flight
Have been replaced
By desperate pre-dawn quests
Through mountains of stale birdseed
For the ever-elusive earworm.
Its gilded cage
From a bygone age
Has become tarnished
And turned a soylent green.
With feathers unruffled
It sits upon a crusted perch
Above yesteryear’s press clippings
Now irreparably soiled
By its own fecal droppings.
Both bird and cage
Sit tucked away
Forgotten under a quilt
Of ahistorical culture
Quietly waiting for someone
To remove the shroud
Of lost short-term memories.
The caged bird’s song
Recorded by adoring aviculturists
Is dusty and scratched
And plays in an infinite loop.
Its existential musings reiterating
Over and over- repeatedly until
The listener finally… notices.
The cycle starts with systemic neglect.
Without economic development,
communities become irrelevant,
and their residents command no respect.
Next comes the decay the experts call, “blight:”
broken windows prove dilapidation,
litter strewn about- with trash cans in sight.
and bespeak of residents’ frustration.
Then comes the, “urban redevelopment:”
the first wave of hipsters, and artist types,
the, “I don’t see colors, just people” types,
who raise up property values and rents.
But neighborhoods’ hipness, like new toys… fades
to blue lights and sirens’ harsh serenades.
They sell their daughters
to mitigate poverty
Observed over summer “deep cleaning” in a Chicago Public School