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Believing in Our Youth

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Those Berwyn students who say they were standing by their convictions would make Kevin Coval proud.

He's a poet and performance artist who has these thoughts about a world that may underestimate young people. 

the meaning of children

invention #10


Chicago/america, your children are born

to travel underground and supposed to get high

brow bootleg mega-mixes on old Maxwell St.

Sundays, 10 for 10 dollar collages; white socks,

watermelon and churros. we are born to

over stand and glide high thru tree lined streets,

born to inter-sect, cross-pollinate and miscegenate,

blur all fences and neighborhood lines ever

erected, we


in attention delirium cuz there is a city-

country to beautify—

we are born

to make the hole holy, throw-up and fill in

the widening gap between those who have

and those who have to rent, born to master-

piece the backside of Picasso's cold blooded bird eyes,

born to scratch-bomb the hidden underbelly of CTA

buses and under overpasses cut holes holy in chained-

links where beds could be maid and we are born to wreck

freight train mural names emblazoned in the eye's night

of I-94 where Metra tracks chug suburban sprawl,


we Chicago

america, the children of reagan/Daley, know all

the heroes are broken like our fathers

but who said you had to be

perfect, let's start with honest:

everything we love is stolen,

every melody and word and brush stroke borrowed

or muscled or appropriated from what came before,

let's be honest about what came before:


  DuSable should be a college

at the mouth of the river just east on the north bank,

paid for by Chase and JP Morgan and all slave made

institutions, bring on the reparations Sekou Sundiata

echoes in the departed air where his mouth once moved.


let's be honest Chicago/america,

you don't understand us

you are kinda boring and won't listen

when we want to play you

our record since 1973


but now that that record

that that record that that

record sells

cheeseburgers and Hondas

and that that record sells

more than imported Beatles,


  i'll say this

i dig Bach

but do you know who Jesse De La Pena is,

i read Elliot

but do you know MF Doom is Zev Luv X

or that his brother is dead,

i wanted to but was too broke to see Baryshnikov

but do you know Wakka

is the illest b-boy on the planet

and lives in a basement at Noble and Chicago

where he cleans the bodies and rooms of old people



we your children are born to inter-sect,

cross-pollinate and miscegenate

blur all neighborhood fences ever

erected, we


in attention delirium

cuz there is a city-

country to beautify.

Kevin Coval is a contributor to Eight Forty-Eight and the author of the book and CD Slingshots (A Hip Hop Poetica).

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