—After Chance the Rapper

By Davon Clark

I heard we got the city doing front flips // where every father/mayor/rapper jump ship // and I
heard they all wanted us to tumble down, anyway // to let our streets fall over into themselves //
inside the city line and through the alleys // in a flood of cement // and that crazy kid’s croons //
I heard he used to sing about us in autotune // how our rowhomes would jazz the boulevard into a
keyboard // how our grandparents and their grandparents knew joy like we know it // that is,
almost // that is, like someone always had their hands covering the sun over it // // that is, like it’s
all there is

I heard the city would flip it to him // would front a war on drugs // for a war on his tongue //
would pull Emmett Till’s heart out of his mouth // and let the Southside in his screams pour into
the Chicago wind // to drown every hood in forewarning // and Harold’s mild sauce //
I heard he likes him some blessings // I heard he can find miracles in between the cushions of a
couch covered in plastic // faster than he can find the right flavored Mistic at the corner store // or
faster than he can put out a mixtape // or faster than he can lose a summer friend, or two, or all of
them //

I heard he speak of promised lands // like he’s only known them // in walking them long city
blocks // and playing hopscotch with good moments // and taking smoke breaks on city stoops //
and juke jammin’ down the house party // and dodging the red lights // and the flashing ones, too

I heard we seen it happen before. I heard he only went to prom night because Graduation was
motivation after it went double platinum. I heard he one of ’em niggas that be turnin’ pastel
polos over in their thrift store graves. I heard he looked too deep into Kanye’s bloodshot eyes on
the Katrina broadcasts. I heard he loves himself so much because he’s given everything to a
world that won’t do it for him. I heard he makes 50 beats a day in the summer. I heard he was a
dad away from rapping and a mentor’s mother away from singing. I heard he made Chicago a
musical. I heard he can make any city kid smile at least once a mixtape. I heard he everything the
people can’t be. I heard he made it through. I heard he made it through. I heard he made it
through. I heard he made it through. ■



Davon Clark is a Philadelphia-raised artist based out of Chicago. His work looks to fill in gaps in coverage of the worlds he lives. He uses journalism practices to inform how he approaches his work and its uses. He likes flowers and the little things in life.

Belt Magazine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To support more independent writing and journalism made by and for the Rust Belt and greater Midwest, make a donation to Belt Magazine, or become a member starting at $5 per month.