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The Sign

By Jonathan B. Tucker

pardon our appearance
as we grow to better serve you
says the sign on the fence

and i wonder how the 'you'
in that sentence
can mean both the young mother of three
carrying past
and me

is who they serve clear
is it up for debate
is it ever stated

it is widely accepted that
the police here do not
protect and serve everyone equally

and the schools aren't too different
digging the pipeline
to drain the shit out of the way
of these new luxury condos

and the teens who grew up here
are told daily that they ain't shit
ain't gonna be shit
worthy of digging, planning, and pardoning our appearance for
while we redevelop

their development gets arrested
by the same school-to-prison pipeline
the same separate and unequal
the same united states, uncaring
and suspicious
bribed and malicious

way past the sequel
this story has been told on a continuous loop
for hundreds of years

different characters
same plot
different costumes
same shot

please pardon our appearance
as we grow
to better serve you

says the sign
letting us know we're getting served
being handled
taken care of

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Jonathan B. Tucker

Jonathan B. Tucker is a writer, actor, poet, DJ, and activist. Coach of the DC Youth Slam Team and Youth Programs Coordinator for Split This Rock, he uses performance poetry to raise issues of social justice and inspire dialogue and action. Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Crofton, MD, Jonathan has twice represented DC at the National Poetry Slam. His book, I Got the Matches, and other poems are available at

Other poems by this author