Sandra Benedetto: My Wishes for Our City

I hereby wish upon the four stars that
bleed pointed vermilion pride
on the stark white banner of our city
that the Century of Progress
is not just a memory washed up
between a river and a lake,
not just artifact but fact,
not just a remnant but a glimmer.

I wish that
we would fund schools like stadiums,
because the cost-benefit analysis
tells us that it costs too much
to discount the benefits
of investing in the kids on our rosters.
Let us be the city of big shoulders
from carrying book bags
instead of wooden slabs
to board up school windows.
Let us lift our heads to see
reflected in the luster of the bean
the men that run the Machine
on the cogs of the underfunded underbelly.
Let our returns on investment
be peace lining our gridiron streets
instead of the pockets of white-collared shirts —
interest paid not in dollars and cents
but in busy minds
open hearts
proud hands
slam dunk.

I wish that
we would shoot guns down;
blindside them with a bill
called conceal and bury,
so we can dig nine-millimeter holes
for bullets that can’t make new ones.
Let us tear fresh-faced guns asunder
before they appear on the cargo manifest
like so many children who will
never get to manifest their destinies.
Let us look the other way when guns are ripped
from the hands of avenging brothers,
crusading mothers
or scared boys putting on brave faces;
it doesn’t matter why
because the aftermath is still the same —
people minus guns equals people.
Let’s nix these zeroes,
steal every thieving piece of metal
and alloy them with impotence,
lay them out prostrate in piles
in perpetuity.

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