Chicago shall rise again.This


United States
41° 49' 9.1668" N, 90° 30' 24.7752" W

Chicago shall rise again.
This phrase, from ashes rose
But I see a city again with flames rising high
Not of fire but of hatred, racism and crime.
A Chicago whose politicians are varied
And one by one they say they will rise to the fight
Instead all they do is talk a big talk without any bite.
It’s a city being cleared away like the stench of alcohol from W. Madison St.
But instead of getting better it seems to be worse
Because those with power seem able to ignore the hurt
They keep the flames hidden, hard to see from the outside
But on the inside the people are pushed out

Like the voice of Florence Scala silenced from protest.
Or women mourning the deaths of their children
Quieting as they’re choked by doubt,
Beholding signs reminding them of the men they live without.
With their lives filled with violence, we expect them to have risen?
Their teachers see the potential they hold
But the pull of gangs and violence blinds them as their reality unfolds.
A reality of fear, death and low-expectations
A group ‘oppressed for so long all they know is oppression*’
Our solution is simple, “Put more cops on the streets.”
But everyone knows for young African American men where that leads.
Because to Chicago the police do not protect and serve
Rather they abuse, torture, and give our most oppressed ‘that which they deserve’

Harold Washington asked Chicago to come together under one city
But I have witnessed a Chicago divided as ever.
Divided not just by rivers and roads but by race and language with equity ignored
We keep hoping that these disparities are soon to be mended
And with constant reminders of this oppression…
I still hold hope
Hope that Chicago shall rise again
That one day it will become more than ‘the northern most racist city’
Seen as more than ‘the most segregated city in the nation’
A city which stand for Addams, Cabrini, Despres, and Wells
A city active in politics which discusses the hardest of issues:
Racism, war and poverty aren’t seen as independent
But rather intertwined and interdependent

But the fire is strong and its mission is simple
Blind those in power with the smoke of the system
Politicians work on the 600 billion dollar deficit
But continue, to the lives of their citizens, be negligent
Years ago the worst places were where poor lived ate and slept
To me it’s as if Chicago has hardly taken a step
Yes, Thurgood Marshall declared covenants unconstitutional
But police torture, racism and ignorance are excusable?
On the other hand Chicago had and still has a prosperous story
From McCormick and Prairie Avenue to Gold Coast today
Chicago may seem, from the outside, the perfect host for the whole world to stay
But beneath the exterior are the smoke and the flames
A city burning to ashes as the world stands watching without any blame
The UN took a stand against the crimes of Police
But now Chicago must regain their voice and turn from defeat

We must rise like the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
And the laborers who stood in Haymarket Square
Like the Race Rioters who took a stand and created a place where black success was apparent and their businesses flourished
We must not fear the system
For it’s the system that’s seeks to keep us malnourished
Seeking more and seeking help but finding those in power only keeping the flames from spreading out
But our diversity is our power and our voices our strength
We are still here
And there is still time
So we must rise as one
Raising our voices screaming not ‘I will’ but ‘We will’ be freed together from these chains and this pain
As one
Raising our voices like flames being contained with one breath we will spread and bring change
As one
Chicago shall rise again
*Line from Spoken Word Poem by Lamar Jorden


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741