On South Division
Grand Rapids, MI
Our cities have a sense
of their own dramatic irony, right?
The way our Civil War monument
was built on the corner of Division St.,
which is also the street we chose to call
Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Sure, we’re a city of unity.
We put in ornate marble benches
to remember that it was our city
that went down to burn Atlanta.
Our city, the second national worst
in economic opportunity for African Americans.
Now those marble benches are covered in the heads
and real bodies of human beings without housing.
Every day their breath brushes back and forth
like wind erosion over the etched inscriptions
that say our veterans are our heroes,
for fighting for our freedom and values. Every day
they are fighting for our freedom and values.
We hope they won’t ask us for one dollar.
Their still bodies are as easy to walk past as statues.
Katie Assarian is an artist, mother of new twins, and active citizen of Grand Rapids. She has a Master of Fine Arts from the beautiful University of Wyoming. Her poetry has recently appeared in Not Very Quiet and the museum of americana. Katie also posts to a personal index of short, hopeful poems at Common Poems.