Our Land First

Downtown, we run free under the streetlamps at each corner and intersection highlighting the one-way, the no u-turn, the merge the detour, the not open for business, the no parking the yes you can park, but please insert your money, the VIP parking only.

We run free at the hours you tell us we can run free. Please open more bars that stay open late but close the safe café espresso bars, because we all know how jacked and high the caffeine generation can be, how violent we become from a French press.

We are the youth, the new generation. The fence you raise with steel and razor wire will not and does not deter us, only drives us further, implants a thought, a goal we will overcome, increases the intensity and a voice that has been growing louder since the day we came into this society, not by choice, but the free will free of our parents and deities. You did not want us here, we chose this time and place, we are here and we will not go away.

I walk the downtown streets at night and into the morning, the winter snow lays so silently and softly upon the cold concrete and skeleton trees lining each avenue, flakes passing in front of the yellow lights, cast an eerie glow onto the still roadways. Under the bridge carrying car after car during the day, the nighttime brings more silence, as the snow keeps falling on top of itself. Beautiful, scenic, something Norman Rockwell would fall over himself to see and to capture onto canvas with oils.

I am the child of this generation, raised by the frequencies passing through my mind, the wireless media I cannot escape, each day a struggle against opinions and commentaries not my own, someone else’s quest to dominate those weaker, those susceptible and vulnerable. You are trying to build an army, a mass of mindless soldiers obeying each every command you transmit.

Each snow flake riding the westerly wind will eventually find a new home, somewhere upon the concrete, street lamps, naked trees, a windowsill, someone’s potted plant, a down balcony, the never used pay phone, the transit tracks, the skyway, the wooden bench near the overpass.

Ah, but the bench is not empty, neither is the underpass. A crude bed fashioned with your discarded box from the new high-definition plasma TV, towels from the 5-star hotel just down the street at the next corner, next to a decadent Italian café whose throwaways and scraps each evening at 8:00 are well worth a fight and the use of the serrated knife that sleeps each evening under the pillow.

Shelters and community centers beckon and tease with a place to sleep and a hot meal, if only the other hundreds of people with the same plight did not go at the same time, did not take the last bed with the clean white sheet, a bed spread and the pillow that is a far cry from the rolled pair of last months jeans.

Driving the outskirts of the downtown, the next exit brings me to the residential housing with brick chimneys bellowing white smoke, a sure sign of the fire and warmth within.

Dressed in green, one hand tucked firmly within a pocket, the other outreaching to each car passing the corner, the stained fingers shaking slightly, turned over. Each gust of the autumn wind causing the tattered green jacket to wrinkle. The staked sign next to the fence, bleached with each corner curling over, the words written in black, now grayed and indistinguishable, but I do not need words to know, to understand what his moment is conveying to me. Underneath the army green hat, a few threads waving in the wind, the gray hair is long. A red face, fighting the chill in the air, the sun hiding as the afternoon snow is moving in, maintains the composure and patience that Vietnam taught him.

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