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Ode to Gentrification

Old school denizens of this
bleach-boned block say:
the realest thing
about the white woman
and her Yorkie
on this reimagined street
is the leather of the leash
that tethers them.

The Curators: (L to R) Adam Falkner, Elana Bell, Samantha Thornhill, Jon Sands & Syreeta McFadden. Photo: Geralyn Shukwit.
Samantha Thornhill - Brooklyn Laundromat. Photo: Syreeta McFadden.

Your very name, glass
splinter planted deep in the fat
of our vernacular. Gentrification,
rightly mistaken
for juxtaposition:
pretty boys with swagger,
checkerboard trains,
skyscraper sadness,
bodegas sighing out soy.

Peruvian girl and boy fattening
fridges with Fiji between
homeworks, while Pops
slices and dices, and Mom
rocks the register.

Kissing cousin to gratification,
you birth gratitude—
twin to regret.
Call me regrateful.

I am so sorry to thank you
for the manner in which
I participate in your cruel,
and convenient, magic.

You ushered out
the families who dreamed
where my head now rests.

Yesterday, I retrieved laundry
cleaner than bells, unmentionables
caressed by another’s
mother’s hands.

I sit on the up-
side of your coin,
drinking down the sky’s blue
dregs, while the teens I teach,
and the sturdy black
grandmothers I salute
with my seat,
kiss concrete.


Samantha Thornhill

A singular voice for a new generation of poets, Trinidadian SAMANTHA THORNHILL has traveled globally and works locally to get the word of poetry into the daily dialogue. She has an M.F.A. from Virginia, teaches poetry to actors at Julliard, and is a poetry producer for Russell Simmons’s YouTube channel, All Def Poetry. She co-founded PUP.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2015

All Issues