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Six-Word Stories 2021 – #9

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.

GERIATRIC ORNITHOLOGY (The Gagged Caged Bird’s Song)

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.

Its song

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

Deferred dreams

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 VICIOUS CYCLE OF GENTRIFICATION (from the “Urban Fortresses” series)

Picket line outside of Columbia College Chicago. Photo credit: Keith M. Kelley

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.

HAIKU 2022 #69.

They sell their daughters

to mitigate poverty

in Afghanistan.

HAIKU OF THE DAY 07-28-2022

Observed over summer “deep cleaning” in a Chicago Public School