The irony in the growth of a city,
Is how easily community collapses.
A budding metropolis, 
Only in internet ads.
A photoshopped oasis.
The price of admission is a six figure salary,
Otherwise it’s a different city.
“Call now for your privilege blindfold!”
The product of city planning.
Oh, blind budgeteers,
Never mind the areas of town
where nobody would buy a house.

Look at these photoshopped pictures!
But not the ones the police take…

Your new home awaits!
It’s a bedroom in a house owned by “Big House”
rented to four other people with one bathroom.
No parking.
No smoking.
No pets.
No future.
You each pay $600.
Utilities not included.
Your peers will ask if you’re okay living there.
You can’t afford anything else.

Your neighbors have depression,
starving bank accounts,
bed bugs and roaches.
As you all lay at night and dream of a day
Where reality looks different,
You may drift to sleep to the cries of their children,
So bored and suffering they don’t even know it, yet.
The kids wear the same empty faces and jackets,
Walking to their bus stops,
As their parents do
taking out the trash every Tuesday. 

An addict asks for a cigarette every time you pass her
On the way to the corner store
to spend money on something you don’t need
just to have something to do;
If life can’t be sweet,
At least there’s Yoo-hoo.

A lady at a bus stop smacks your passenger window.
Your veins are strained,
Knowing you need help, too.
You say nothing and go when the light turns green.

The men sleeping on stoops,
Dead, or dreaming?

Their only dreams:

-How to rob you and get away with it.
-How to be avoided to suffer in silence.
-Is there any reprieve?
-How to die in peace…

if one can call it that. 

The Governer wears a suit.
Puts his smiling face on everything to show us how great it is here.
Except the bodybags of the overdose and homicide victims.
Except the dilapidated buildings that haven’t been used
Since before I was born thirty two years ago. 
Except the potholes that half the price
Of a gallon of gas is supposed to fix. 

Make no mistake,
We are only one
In our entrapment.

As you leave the city
heading south toward Cincinnati,
You pass the “Hell Is Real” billboard,
Another scarecrow in the corn.

After thirty years,
I can only say the billboard is facing the wrong way.