32: Gentrifier

32: Gentrifier

32: Gentrifier

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by Franny Choi

the new grocery store sells real cheese, edging out
       the plastic bodega substitute. the new neighbors

know how to feed their children, treat themselves
       to oysters sometimes. other times, to brunch. finally,

some good pastrami around these parts. new cafe
       on broadway. new trees in the sidewalk. everyone

can breathe a little easier. neighborhood association
       throws a block party. builds a dog park right

in the middle of the baseball field. crime watch listserv
       snaps photos of suspicious natives. how’d all these ghosts

get in my yard? cop on speed dial. arrange flowers
       as the radio croons orders. rubber on tar,

skin on steel. an army of macbook pros guarding
       its french presses. revival pioneers. meanwhile,

white college grads curse their racist neighbors,
       get drunk at olneyville warehouse punk shows,

ride their bikes on the right side of the road, say west end
       like a badge, while folks on the other side of cranston street

shake their heads and laugh. interrogation lamps
       burning down their stoops. banks gutting their houses.

i look more like the cambodian kids against that wall
       than any of my roommates. but feel safest within two miles

of an espresso machine. look around at parties and think,
       fresh saplings. revival pioneers. know folks look at me

on my bike and think, ivy league. dog park. treat yourself
       to a neighborhood sometimes. none of this land is mine

but our footprints are everywhere. silent battlefront
       we new settlers shove into our back pockets,

lump in our collective throat as we chase a new world,
       sweep the foyer, promise we’ll help clean up the mess.

“Gentrifier", from FLOATING, BRILLIANT, GONE by Franny Choi. Copyright © 2014 by Franny Choi. Used by permission of Write Bloody Publishing.