Rejects of the Livable City

by Akintiunde

   (to the editors of Milkweed
    for Alexis Patterson )

We are sorry
but these poems are not right
for this anthology.
The rejection gave pause

I read it amidst evening news
reports of a 7 year old girl
who never made it
to school one day
and her parents, three weeks later,
lose hope that the city will find her
in a livable state

Five weeks earlier,
the call for submissions posed:
"Where and how do urban habitats
intersect with and shape our lives
our sense of self and our world?"

I sent four poems:

      about a city's night life
      in which "life" is a whore
      who screws everybody in order
      to survive

      about a little girl
      whose brain is shattered by a stray bullet
      while her mother lays
      in a crack coma

      about homeless and fatherless
      children who become dead adults

       about Blackmen, decay
       and municipal policing

But they were sorry
because the poems did not fit
into their invisioned "Livable City"

I took the rejection into my life
where the city intersects my conscience
and night becomes a lady who meshes
survival instincts with diurnal decay,
debasement, harassment, and marginalization
of Black boys and men
where dawn reveals an anthology of homelessness,
poems rejected by compilers

of some utopian idea of the city
where stifling the poetry of a child
isn't life's true tragedy
it's believing the work not worth reading

Rejects of the Livable City by Akintiunde

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