Mural on State Street

Go live with yourself after what you didn’t do.

Mai Der Vang, “In the Year of Permutations”

Summer break back in US
George Floyd’s recent death
Wisconsin re-opening 
from Coronavirus
(what a time for a visit!)
visiting Madison, WI
my alma mater
State Street connects 
the university to the state capital
storefronts boarded up
murals decorate
the pressboard 
artwork and barriers 
to protect against outrage
warm June weather
people are out with masks
a beef brat and a cold Spotted Cow
an ATM bashed open
my family and I trek up State Street
admiring the murals
imagining the protests
that prompted businesses
to board up as a precautionary
imagining the artists
that organized in order
to paint the boards
as a consolation (to whom?)
red and blue stars 
stenciled on a white background
yellow tape painted with
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
repeated over and over
like a mnemonic device
like a smear of blood
signaling protestors to pass over
not put a foot through the board
a brick through the window
a hand into the business
and not scatter the contents like a piñata
people are walking the street
taking pictures of the murals
posing in front of the murals
posting pictures of the murals
Instragram-able injustice
the opportunity to observe 
seething anger 
as it cools
as it coalesces
as it is co-opted
as it is contained
as it is removed
as it is stored, discarded, and
eventually forgotten
by summer’s end
the city will have its street,
the businesses will have their stores,
the people will have their sales and specials
and the murals will be memories

2 thoughts on “Mural on State Street”

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