Wilson & Broadway

Christine at Wilson & Broadway

Photography by Demayne Murphy

On the corner of Wilson and Broadway,
a half-eaten cheeseburger wrapper’s waxy
flaps rage at the crossroad between the rim
of an overflowing garbage can and the wind.
Commuter nostrils singed by the stench
of marijuana and raw sewage contract,
then expand in relish of berbere spices.

Here, too, ascending stairs stained by cigarette
ash and storm water, feet marred much less
by travel than by socioeconomic stagnancy
seek rest in a diner-like setting where tables
are decorated with plastic petunias in fake vases.
A cherry-red Radio Flyer wagon hung high
between tables two and three serves as a reminder
that wheels are best worn-out by steadfastly lifting
the weighty burden of hunger off another’s back.

Here, too, where the sharp clangs of dish-washing
intermingle with the sizzle of beef on a griddle,
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is hummed. Voices
resound against walls splashed the vibrant hues
of a tangerine split in two, golden wheat fields
and succulent pig pink. Heaps of sautéed collard
greens and cornbread comfort empty stomachs
to a persistent, rhythmic clapping to Carry On
My Wayward Son until the acridity of bleached
mops signals a descent of the begrimed stairway.

On the corner of Wilson and Broadway,
atop Uptown Station’s dappled gray peak,
hang partial-wreaths – stone-faced symbols
of evergreen growth – and delusion disguised
as communal prosperity looms over a rain-
drenched ragamuffin, peddling pleas for pennies,
always at arm’s length from its entrance.

Author’s Note: This piece was inspired by the communal disparity I’ve observed at the Chicago intersection at Wilson and Broadway: a new $230 million-dollar red line station and the Inspiration Café, an organization that is dedicated to cooking and serving meals to Uptown’s many homeless or low-income men, women and families, where I regularly volunteer.

On the corner of Wilson and Broadway, a half-eaten cheeseburger wrapper’s waxy flaps rage at the crossroad between the rim of an overflowing garbage can and the wind. Commuter nostrils singed by the stench of marijuana and raw sewage contract, then expand in relish of berbere spices.

Here, too, ascending stairs stained by cigarette ash and storm water, feet marred much less by travel than by socioeconomic stagnancy seek rest in a diner-like setting where tables are decorated with plastic petunias in fake vases. A cherry-red Radio Flyer wagon hung high between tables two and three serves as a reminder that wheels are best worn-out by steadfastly lifting the weighty burden of hunger off another’s back.

Here, too, where the sharp clangs of dish-washing intermingle with the sizzle of beef on a griddle, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is hummed. Voices resound against walls splashed the vibrant hues of a tangerine split in two, golden wheat fields and succulent pig pink. Heaps of sautéed collard greens and cornbread comfort empty stomachs to a persistent, rhythmic clapping to Carry On My Wayward Son until the acridity of bleached mops signals a descent of the begrimed stairway.

On the corner of Wilson and Broadway, atop Uptown Station’s dappled gray peak, hang partial-wreaths – stone-faced symbols of evergreen growth – and delusion disguised as communal prosperity looms over a rain-drenched ragamuffin, peddling pleas for pennies, always at arm’s length from its entrance.

Author’s Note: This piece was inspired by the communal disparity I’ve observed at the Chicago intersection at Wilson and Broadway: a new $230 million-dollar red line station and the Inspiration Café, an organization that is dedicated to cooking and serving meals to Uptown’s many homeless or low-income men, women and families, where I regularly volunteer.

Tell Your Story
2019-09-09T20:31:09-05:00

2 Comments

  1. Fred Meyer April 19, 2019 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed the poem. It reminded me of the language of Carl Sandburg and Nelson Algren writing about similar scenes in Chicago several generations ago. North and south along Chicago’s Lakefront, the wealthy live within reach of the Lake’s cool breezes, within a view of the Lake’s blue waters, and within a brief stroll to its shores. The poor may live only a few blocks west of the wealthy, but they are “worlds apart.”

  2. Diana May 9, 2019 at 4:18 am - Reply

    A much literal response contributed here by myself is that I have found it is way easy to get a round of singing in a shelter when one begins with “Come listen to a story of a man named Jed…” or ” Papa was a rolling stone…” leading to the infatic with more volume phrase ” …wherever he laid his hat was his home!” With abrupt termination and flourish of giggles, snorts “…and all he left us was a loan!” I was made aware of the writer’s acuetity of emotional intelligence from like two sometime book discussion groups. I was not aware of her aesthetic talent which I much enjoyed in word or phrase rythyim. Liked pairings of stark abutment like split tangerine telling of wall or color field.

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  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • Enhancing Exhibitions

    We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.

  • Chronicling Histories

    TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

    We conducted over 150 interviews with distinguished faculty and alumni of Teachers College, Columbia University, to commemorate the college’s 125th anniversary. From those interviews, we produced a series of films that were used for multiple purposes, including screenings at fundraising events. We also created the web series “52 Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” available on Teachers College’s website throughout its anniversary year. Each episode contains an excerpt from the narrative histories.