On wanting to alter that which has already been placed

You would think
an abandoned train station
twenty stories into the Detroit skyline,
busted window infested
clear to the other side
would be demolished by now,
but not everything needs to fall victim
to us neocolonialists who recognize
preserving history as
‘remodeling’ what has gone out of style.
Those of us who roam
to sightsee the ruins of cities
whose walls are supported
by hands that are not the ones that built them
would rather let such hollow pillars
crumble on their own –
slowly. Or, at least,
use the damned thing for what it was built for.

The old train station in my city
is no eyesore.
It is eighteen stories of stone
waiting to be bitten into.
It is a blank canvas that has been waiting
for graffiti art for much too long.
It is a reminder that tomorrow
will not always be better.
You would think
that its shadow
casting over Michigan Ave.
would be demolished after a century
but it is still driven into the soil,
gutted hollow, but driven
like the people of this city,
like the people of any city
with their memorable shadows,
or cloud-curving cooperate buildings,
or even their oily modes of transportation.

The most important layer is on the surface –
stretching the potholed length
of a first world community
neglected into a first world unemployed
heap of bone and metal
into the vacant end of a ghetto –
a Detroit ghetto –
complete with the rubbled wood
of demolished houses
that should have been hauled away
months ago,
all waiting to be bulldozed,
One day it will.
Until then, the landscape will speak
for itself.
When that time comes,
the landscape will still speak for itself.

Justin Rogers is a poet, educator, coach and venue owner from the city of Detroit, Michigan. Rogers is an advocate for literacy among inner-city youth, and the amplification of Black voices.

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