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Thursday, April 19, 2012


by Kelly Fordon

Census takers, television producers,
urban explorers come to the
tall grass prairie, gawk at the ones
who stayed, the two people who are still
constructing motorized boxes,
the decimated buildings where they
crouch wide-eyed through the night,
like owls, like coyotes, like
whacks in the rafters. Train your cameras
on the swirling graffiti maelstrom,
all the meaningless desperate words
draining down the sewer grate.
Here we dissemble. We say the sky is not falling,
that if we use the magic words,
Renaissance Center our sweet talking
mayor will ride back into town
with all of our money.  This
is a dead zone with an attitude problem.
Nobody will admit that we are
no longer empowered. Plant a garden
in this toxic wasteland and watch
the flowers twirl like disco balls.
We are the ones who built the
Empire State, we are America ’s
empty bread basket.  In our town,
snipers lurk behind gargoyles,
the water has stopped seeping through
the rusty pipes, the children have stopped
asking for toys.  Could this be your
final destination? Don’t rule it out.
You could end up sitting next to us
on the curb dreaming about
rejuvenation.  You could find yourself
recalling how beautiful you once were,
before all the people you carried
turned their backs.  It happens
all the time.

Kelly Fordon’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review (KRO), NPR’s This I Believe, Flashquake, Red Wheelbarrow, The Windsor Review and various other journals.  Her poetry chapbook On The Street Where We Live won the 2011 Stranding Rock Chapbook Contest and will be published in February 2012. She received third place in the Katherine Handley Prose Poem Contest, was a finalist in the 38th Annual Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest and received an honorable mention in the 2011 Tiferet Journal fiction contest.  She is currently working towards her MFA in fiction writing at Queens University.