Araceli Arroyo CC
This is Where You Belong
This is twenty-five miles southwest of Chicago, a shadow
the Sears Tower cast across Gatling's old land, a wheat field
cleared for a billboard announcing an outlet mall that never broke ground.
& this is the Zenon J. Sykuta Elementary School
playground where kids broke skin against mulch. Splinters swam
in blood, boys kissed girls, lips wetted with dares.
& this is Atkin Park, where a sock-swaddled padlock swung
an eviction notice to an eye. Blood speckled hopscotch squares.
& this is Chris' backyard, where concrete chipped
knuckles, where boys chased a jump ball, shared sweat,
put up shots for games of twenty-one, wobbled defenders.
& this is the creek ditch where victims emptied
pockets of a few bills, Pokémon cards, & Frooties. Big Moe peddled
away on someone's Mongoose. He said he was coming back.
& this is Kostner Avenue where kids flew
downhill on the same bike, arms extended, wind coasting over palms.
& this is another U-Haul truck going. & this is another U-Haul
truck coming. & this is another U-Haul truck
with a belly full of furniture, engine idled for arrival or departure.
& this is a For Sale sign. & this is a For Rent sign. & this is a For Rent Sign.
& this is the streetlight on 180th, outside St. Emeric,
where Keith's mom whooped him in front of all of his friends
because he stayed out with lightning bugs, mayflies, & stars.
& this is the teal-on-black Cutlass Supreme with 24-inch rims
that rippled bass down Ravisloe Terrace, up Idlewild Drive.
& this is Country Pantry. That's the AMC Loews. That's the Walmart
where teens posted up in the parking lot, loitered
around their mother's sedans, revved their hips to summer hits.
This is Country Club Hills, where I-57 & I-80 lace
like fingers interlocked over the city. The American flag,
two hundred fifty pounds of polyester, flaps over the land.
After the Towers Fell, Black Boys Felt American
She's a terrorist. Her sister's a terrorist. Her daddy
flew a plane into the towers. You see him,
their family, walking down Baker Street.
You know it isn't true, him a sleeper.
These kids waged war before America crumbled.
Snatched hijabs at gym: twin columns of smoke
rise from these daughters, stand in New York City
still. Orange flags. Red flags flap on Pulaski Avenue.
Even with your black skin, without cowboy boots,
say Bin Laden at Dunkin. Say these girls aren't welcome
in your country. Don't spit in their faces.
Don't stop it, either. Today you are American.
Quintin Collins is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA program graduate. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Lily Poetry Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, poems2go, Transition magazine, and elsewhere. He also received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2019. Quintin likes to post poems and writing memes on his Twitter (@qcollinswriter). He thinks the memes are funny sometimes, but that's debatable.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.