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rocío franco

We walk down 18th Street
& observe a flock of vultures
deep in the cavity
of a recovered wasteland.
A place that now has charm,
culture, & palatable tacos.

18th Street used to be rough
like bricks in rubble,
blocks hot to the touch,
streets buried
in divestment
& big city neglect.

Chicago allows us to cocoon
in our hoods until they metamorphose
into neighborhoods.
Property emerging cheap
to turn into a gallery,
brewery, or fusion bullshit.

Those vultures
who now flock safely
will never understand
how I found love as I sat
on a tuft of brown grass
in Harrison Park.

How the paletero
signaled summer
with his cartful
of rainbows,
& fire hydrant waves were
our only way to swim.

How my favorite taqueria
introduced me to tongue.
That it can be savored
& not something
they can peck
into silence.

Our home was never a wasteland.
It’s our hearth full
of swift-hand migrants
& first-gen hustlers
who refuse to be displaced
or gorged on like prey.

Rocío Franco is a Chicana poet and activist from Chicago. She’s a 2020 Frost Conference on Poetry Alum, 2021 Rad(ical) DreamYard Consortium Fellow, 2021 The Watering Hole Fellow, and 2021 Best of the Net Nominee. Her poems have appeared in The Acentos Review, Outpatient Press, Chicago Reader’s Poetry Corner, the Exposition Review, the Latinx Anthology: What They Leave Behind, La Libreta, and La Raîz Magazine. She works at a union health fund and strongly believes in universal healthcare. She loves exploring the city with her family, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and approaches the world with a social justice lens.

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