Originally posted 7/12/2010. Original title, “Gentrifying Worcester.”
Where I live
they’re opening cute bars for the cute,
sprucing up streets ahead of the cute,
renaming old squares for the cute.
This city was never built for cute.
We’re the city that either
swallowed cute whole or spit it out.
Now our throats
are so clogged with glitter
we can’t breathe,
yet we squabble over
how to swallow even more.
over how to paint itself more cute
while up here on the hills
we’re hoping cute washes off
before we can’t recognize ourselves
in what’s left of our sturdy old mirrors —
hell, this city is my sturdy old mirror.
There I am in its empty red-brick
monuments to old machines,
its neighborhood dives,
its warehouse squats, its
half-eaten streets, its good dirty diners.
This was the town where we used to depend
on the knowledge that cute always fades
like a Saturday night drunk
propped in the corner of a diner booth;
it kept us from envying cute too much.
We’ve forgotten that too often, when cute sobers up
it either runs out on the check or leaves a bad tip
and anyone left has to figure out how to get by.
Underneath this city is a river
no one alive has ever seen. Downtown
they’re talking about cutting it open
and making it cute. Cut it open,
I say. Cut it open —
see what’s collected in the dark,
but don’t count on finding cute down there.
Don’t count on finding water flowing there;
we’ve sweated, bled and cried here for years.
All of that has to have gone somewhere;
if you listen, you can hear it still bubbling
and it doesn’t sound cute to me.