“Free Range,” an original work by poet Ty-uh-nuh

(Photo above by RJ Eldridge)

Free Range

My Chicago be grid-mapped
Superman up high spot train car lines
Like speeding bullet through cityscape
What a sweet escape
Fall asleep on one side blue/red
Wake up black/white
Always knew red split city black/white
Never took issue with this until nightfall
Better be on your side by nightfall
But nevermind that

CTA, the great equalizer
Rich Dad, Poor Dad collide here
Rush Hour, jam packed
Personal space now mythic past
All aboard the mystery machine
Used to ride for hours just to Christopher Columbus neighbor-nooks unseen
My scope widened every time I’d board a new line

Why we be sectioned off, bracketed,
Rather than just one Line
Thoughts swirl as I read billboard signs
Talkin bout, “ Building a New Chicago”
But I ain’t seen nothin new on my side

CTA reek of hope and despair
Cloaked in stale loose cigarette smoke and school children’s candy wrappers
This be Chicago feature, Chicago future
Joy ride on buses
Joy still be here
Love still be here

Bucket Boys wrists’ ricochet heartbeats off the air
Their wooden staffs split traffic like red sea
Come see my cityscape dream
Youth Ready, witness their glistening eyes gleam
Access, if they get it
Believe me, they got it
Open these unmarked borders
Listen to these kids kidding around
Can you hear them skipping the dozens over turnstiles?

We fashion them complacent
But they be curious
Wanna see what’s on the other side
Was far into my highschool years before I frequented the northern sector of Lake Shore Drive
But why is that?
When the city has always been mine
Or is it?
Why those from suburbs arrive downtown faster than us from the southside?

This be my city plain, my city plan
Before I take flight, I sit perched on this land
Chicago, there’s still time to do right by me
Since before the Great Migration,
Legends of the fall have been yearning to be free
Don’t trap us, don’t clip our wings
Just to stealthily set up shop where we be quarantined
Gentrification is real. We’re losing ground.
Redline from 95th be expanding but you displace us now
Then place your station inside our station
We be over-policed like long lines marching towards the county

We’re counting on this system collapsing and beginning anew
Empathize with us. On your feet place our shoes
What if your children were kept out of the Loop
We deserve more than just a day at the Taste or Lollapalooza
We are not this city’s disposable income
This city’s scapegoat
We only wish to roam.

Tarnynon (Ty-yuh-nuh) Onumonu
© 2017

Free Range was created by Tarnynon (Ty-yuh-nuh) Onumonu exclusively for Elevated Chicago. It may not be reprinted or used, in whole or part, without written permission from the artist. For information, contact Tarnynon Onumonu at tarnynono@gmail.com.

About the Artist

Tarnynon (Ty-yuh-nuh) Onumonu was born and raised in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, IL and is extremely proud of and humbled by her southside citizenship and West African lineage. Birthed from a Liberian mother and Igbo father whose families have both experienced extensive war trauma, she has been endowed with a diasporic experience in joy and pain that is atypical of most Americans. She draws from this experience to produce poetry, which is both specific in its autobiographical nature as well as global in its subject matter of love, trauma and disorientation over the span of time and the reach of Western colonization and global Black femme cultural experience. She is currently producing a memoir chronicling her experiences with second generation trauma of genocide as well as laying the groundwork for a poetry mixtape. She placed second in the annual Guild Complex Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards and on November 1, 2017, her first published work will be featured in the online literary magazine and podcast Scout & Birdie. (Photo by RJ Eldridge)

“I view my art as a scope into my individual experience as a queer, Black-femme whose identity is situated somewhere between the South-side Chicago Jeffery Manor neighborhood, Liberia and Igbo Land (of Nigeria). By way of free verse poetry, I am able to flesh out an individual experience in love, trauma and disorientation that is easily transferrable to a more global experience informed by familial war trauma in the African Diaspora. I am currently producing a memoir chronicling my experiences with second generation trauma of genocide as well as laying the groundwork for a poetry mixtape called, Love Hath Descended Upon Me. The mixtape describes my experience with romantic love in the same vein that one would say, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us!” Both projects serve to give audience a feeling of a melancholy whirlwind where time, cultural space and geographic location aid in the necessary upholding of constant disorientation.”  – TARNYNON (TY-YUH-NUH0) ONUMONU

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