On 11th street, Saturday October 15th,
on a street with “Black Art Matters” color the pavement
& pillars with faces of renaissance-era Black artists
lift up the highway that tears the city in two
& “Black lives matter” is embroidered in a local shop’s window,

I see no Black people. Unless it is MLK day,
or intentional congregations of underfunded Black events,
Black folk retreat to their far-away corners, speaking some
variation of English that sounds like squeaking
styrofoam to those who populate 11th street. My car glides

down a road where a venue, a member of the Chitlin circuit
still stands only cause of national designation,
everything around it fresh as a new gun,
down a road where a monument honors–
through force – Black people in Texas. Down a road

where homies learned how to play ball, tie
their new Christmas shoes, live big despite the meager
bounties put on their heads by this city a century prior,
& it’s nothing but white people. The internet says

In Austin, East 11th is the New SoCo
Homies say In Austin? Our lease is up in February
What is a city if not a slowly rotating thing
baking its Blackness at the speed of capital? Every street,

in every city eager for all the wrong reasons,
reminds me of my skin. It isn’t green enough.

Reprinted from Freedom House. Copyright © 2023 by KB Brookins. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved.