Cook County

a poem by Marlon Salgado

we’re that close

these fellas kiss lips with my water tower high walls

that say do you feel my proximity

do you see the cracks in my frame, the holes in my lungs

can you see the shackles and chains I keep locked in

and the numerous men that voluntarily walked in ‘em

let me tell you what I see from my watchtowers

child soldiers with souls split into two

posting up on corners home to

jordan shoeprints, candles, and broken bottles

with hopes of fulfilling corrupt American dreams

they flag; their pockets

more full of lint than keys that open doors

roaches on the floor

eviction notice on the door

doors broken down like the Kush thats sold

rolled into nice and tightly

packed blunts i watch these kids suffocate

on smoke on dope bought with the allowance their mother gave ‘em

I watch these kids kill

with intentions of gaining respect from a dude who can’t give them his own definition of the word: masculinity

of this skill that you lack

of this skill that no one taught him when he was younger

spills the word bitch like the blood they cough on these streets

I see war

breaking out in the mind of a child

who’s tired of seeing senseless siblings wind up

in a casket

tired of only showing affection during wakes

tired of waking up to sirens and wails

in the middle of the night

I see war

breaking out in the courtrooms I conceal

in courtrooms where cases

are always ruled in favor of the police officer

the defendant

you see some people don’t realize that i have ties with those with ties

that tie the knot on the systems loopholes

I feel tensions rise when rivals ride through unwanted turf

turf set on purpose for these players to play their game

many don’t beat the buzzer

blood floods caskets

funeral homes remain open

four businessmen at work

in their corner offices

each looking like they ready to stop a groundball at their base

speak with fake bass in they voice

their briefcases overstuffed with strands of THC, white dust, dead presidents, and fate

and dust and fate and dust

these street entrepreneurs whom I’m bound to bound in my jail house

I gaze down to find fragile-minded children clowning

claiming they the leader of the gang of the hood that they live in

they only six

aiming at each others face with cap-guns

I’ve been here long enough to watch those toys eventually turn into real guns

see barrels explode with bullets too stoopid to know where they’re going

hitting the chests of unfortunate fellas illiterate of their own country’s history

so they disregard the fact that their parents crossed that border for a better future

not so you can cross another border here and erase your own brother

erase your own race with the led that you click like it’s some sort of mechanical pencil

they say hollow tips have no name but there sure are tombstones that haven’t even been made that do

but I’m just a fucking prison right ?

it ain’t like I was built brick by brick with empathy

my barbed wired wasn’t constructed to understand the emotions these kid’s feel when their brother gets locked up

when one of their pops

gets popped

gets shot up right in front of their eyes and walks out of their life and onto the stairway to heaven

I wasn’t built to stop Glocks or Mac-11 triggers from being squeezed

my electric chain linked fence wasn’t created to convince God to stop making so many calls and have so many meetings with these cats in Little Village

I am simply just doing my job.

standing my 96 acre ground

located on the corner of California and 26th

feasting on prisoners for profit every single day yet at the end of every single day I am still starving for more

you see I love this tapeworm I have inside me

the one that has been growing for over three decades

see I’m okay with eating this much

I’ll Cook an entire County if I want to