b kwik

running through b kwik
sweaty hair
football gear
spikes clicking across
Imperial tile

tore up turf
in a trail behind me
grabbing milk
grabbing bread

dad waits in the car
window down
WKBW on the radio

the strip plaza
sited to block competition
ever since the Super Duper
exploded under suspicious
circumstances

priced for convenience
priced for the working class

and sometimes
at checkout
a treat
just for me

© 2018 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Sugar Straw

On Saturdays
the mall is still mobbed
crawling with security
and teens, being teens
white, black, and brown
strategically stationed
throughout the concourses

near an exit
4 Lackawanna girls
squeeze together
waiting for their ride
black and floral satin hijabs
lean in excitedly, for the latest

then the youngest
throws back her head
trying to get every last grain
from a sugar straw

© 2018 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

The Inner Shore

a revision of a piece posted in April 2014, orginally titled: Buffalo

like a tide
moving in,
blight eases over
the east of
Buffalo

overgrown lots
burned-out buildings
fewer and fewer
tidy homes

sacrificed for,
cared for,
abandoned

leaving
     houses
     streets
     neighborhoods
submerged
destroyed

factories close
lawns go uncut
paint peels
windows break
rooflines sag
and wood rots

so, is it
the ebb and flow
     or tidal currents?
or the inundation
     of a changed climate?

do we even have any say?

a mile from shore
you can hear
this encroaching sea
the arhythmic crashing
of gunfire and sirens

neighbors congregate
nervously outside,
pray for slack water
wonder if they’re next
or how long they’ve got

safely inland
some debate or opine:

“it’s natural law
rising tides
lifts all boats”

“the natural consequences
of deprivation
and corporate theft”

“it’s culture,
it’s race,
it’s their own damn fault”

whatever their position,
whatever their faith
people are less safe
and a community’s wealth – lost

the only solutions:
structural adjustment,
razing bulldozers,
tax policy,
a smattering
of construction,
and blame

© 2009-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Gilded

was I ever
a good socialist?

debating economics
and resistance
in colonial artifacts,
bourgeois cafés,
y comedores

burning from
the plight of the poor
the cruelty of class
the callousness of power

eventually returning from
the colonies para los EEUU
to carry on the struggle,
with time, shifting
movement to service

strolling past the famous,
long befallen mansions
– Buffalo’s Millionaire Row –
now home to do-gooders
and Samaritans like myself

I can’t help feeling
nostalgic melancholy
for careless repurposing
and shabby repair

sacrificing grandeur, spaciousness
for a few more desks
or a new funding source
for as long as they hold out

while today’s
Pratt’s, Clement’s
Knox’s, & Goodyear’s
live far out of plain sight
even as income inequality
returns to historic heights
of America’s gilded past

© 2014-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar