Poem for Display in a Housing Project

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Public Poems


Memo to the original planners:
this is what the future
actually looks like.
How do you explain
to yourselves our vagrant,
flagrant refusal to fit
into your uniformed vision?
Or perhaps we fit all too well,
making this project
into an efficient projection
of someone’s self-loathing
onto the cosmos?
For surely these highrises
amount to another Babel.
Some aspect of their conception
disrespected the natural order,
& now they are as hollow
as spent shells.
And just as in scripture,
we barely understand
the lingo of our own
flown children,
who say — we think —
that the prison feels like home,
that it has a yard,
that they might be
a little safer there
from stray

Series Navigation← Poem for Display in a Shopping Mall Food Court
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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. It’s probably obvious from this that I don’t have much experience with housing projects (just as I haven’t spent much time in shopping mall food courts). FWIW I regard the poems in this series as place-holders of a sort, in case I ever motivate to engage in some real research and make a book of it.


  2. I don’t know Dave, the projects here aren’t so safe from projectiles.


  3. Laura, that statement was about prisons, the extent to which they may actually seem like a refuge of sorts to those from extremely violent neighborhoods.


  4. This one really needs to be posted as the title suggests. Kind of like a cornerstone in this case.


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