I wonder what it will take for my city to rise

Ani DiFranco, “Subdivision” – from Revelling/Reckoning

For more…

white people are so scared of black people
they bulldoze out to the country
and put up houses on little loop-d-loop streets
and while america gets its heart cut right out of its chest.
the berlin wall still runs down main street
separating east side from west

nothing is stirring
not even a mouse
in the boarded up stores and the broken down houses
so they hang colorful banners off all the street lamps
just to prove they got no manners,
no mercy, and no sense

and i wonder then what it will take for my city to rise
first we admit our mistakes
and then we open our eyes
the ghost of old buildings are haunting parking lots
in the city of good neighbors that
history forgot

i remember the first time i saw someone lying on the cold street,
i thought, “i can’t just walk past here, this can’t just be true.”
but i learned by example to just keep moving my feet.
it’s amazing the things that we all learn to do.

so we’re led by denial like
lambs to the slaughter,
serving empires of style and
carbonated sugar water
and the old farm road’s a four-lane that leads to the mall
and our dreams are all guillotines
waiting to fall,

and i wonder then what it will take for my country to rise.
first we admit our mistakes
and then we open our eyes.
or nature succumbs to one last dumb decision and
america the beautiful is just one big

4 responses to “I wonder what it will take for my city to rise

  1. I love this! It is wonderful to meet and connect with people who share my views, and love of poetry and Perceiving a broader picture. Even though its sad.


  2. It’s a very beautiful song, and such a powerful message. Also, of course deeply provocative – with, eg, that first line: “white people are so scared of black people.” But what we are seeing now in many cities, and very much in San Francisco, is something different from the suburbanization process that is mostly what Ani laments here: a gentrification driven by new wealth, with white people moving back from the suburbs and driving out black people, brown people, poor people; turning real neighborhood streets into very chic, upmarket open-air malls with food courts for wealthy foodies. Valencia Street was once the heart of San Francisco’s lesbian community. Then it was a funky place for alternative types, with used bookstores and divey bars. Now… one pricey restaurant after another lines the street, drawing crowds of well-heeled Google and Apple employees, driving out “normal” businesses like car repair places and veterinary clinics, but making it a very attractive – and expensive – residential neighborhood. I can barely afford to eat now on a street I grew up on.


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