North Lawndale (a love poem and a lament)


You are raw but lovely

Worn by time and neglect

Weighted down by a hundred burdens

Your terrorized eyes sunken

Beneath forced Midwest smiles

You are proud and persevering

fierce like a Chicago winter


Reflecting what is great and ugly

In a city of extremes

You defy stereotypes

Resilient in your trauma

Rich in your poverty

Resourceful in your delinquency

Your every breath a protest

Against the systems designed

To crush you


You endure sleepless nights

Mourning the fatherless and widows in your protective custody

Advocating for your people through prayerful tears like Moses at Mt. Sinai

You're a hospital for the hurting

A home to wards of State and returning citizens

A bulwark of abolitionist rage

In the spirit of Frederick Douglass

Tenderly keeping descendants of Great Migrations under your watchful gaze.


You are more than a single story

You wear the scars of history

Tattooed on your tired body

Forsaken by Sears and Roebuck

and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Once home to Russian Jews

And ornate synagogues

"The Jerusalem of Chicago"

Before the White Exodus

Destined you to rot in a sea of Redlining

Leaving you indelibly Black

and enslaved to the whims of new Pharaohs


Decades you have languished

Your lifeblood depleted

By savage inequalities

and soul sucking Parasites drawn to the smell of decay

Slumlords and drug lords

Currency exchanges and liquor stores

The accoutrements of exploitation and addiction

But your vice became your strength

Creativity rose from chaos

Determination out of desperation

Beloved community out of broken commerce


The God of the exiles heard your cries

and sent you a King

A prophet from the Southern Kingdom

Organized and poised

To threaten the establishment

And shake up the social order

Leading marches through angry mobs

Leaving no stone of hatred unturned

You, refusing to be a sad casualty of whitewashed history

became an operating center of the Civil Rights Movement in the north.


But you have never been one to boast

You don't seem to mind other neighborhoods stealing the spotlight

You are willing to forgive 77 times

Your kaleidoscope of faith communities and storefront churches

as ubiquitous as your laundromats and corner stores

Offering eternity in exchange for the widows' last mites

Faith, the final oasis in this food desert

The Manna teaching us how to live for today


For in your untamed streets

there is no tomorrow

Only the moment

The hustle, the hit, the hurt

The instincts of survival

The cycles of violence and vengeance

Systemic and self-inflicted

The PTSD from brutal police and unending gang wars,

Mass incarceration and domestic abuse,

Broken policies and broken families.

The legacies of slaveries past and present


And yet you stand tall

Like century-old greystones

Staving off the deterioration of time

With graceful dignity

Guarding your vulnerability

Behind tough exteriors

Bearing witness to hope

In the garden of despair

Waiting patiently for redemption

On the other side of death











Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Google Classic