OCCUPIED

Many places were occupied by activists in 2012..
Turf was contested downtown and in other cities,
with tents and banners proclaiming defiance.
So, what's happening here?

It's broad daylight and no one's in sight.
   	except in the cars whizzing past.
This empty zone near downtown
	was an 'unintended consequence'
		when the highway was built.  I-279 helps people
			 get home to Butler County quickly.
On this land the hard-packed fill is flat, but the parcels are too small
to be buildable, and isolated by on/off ramps.

A handrail that served some forgotten stairway
	protrudes from the ground to remind us 
		that people lived here.
Now the buried steps go nowhere.

This space seems empty.
The land seems unoccupied.
But someone owns the land.  The title may be tangled; it may be contested. 
    But no land is ownerless.	 That's hornbook law. 

Even post-PennDOT,
    there were people staying here. 
Some lived beneath an overpass.
    Some lived in tents.
 		 There were people sleeping, eating, building fires, having sex.
			   They could even have registered and voted, using this address 
					and a cooperative letter carrier.
There's a legal term for their status:  'terre-tenants'.
If anyone noticed them, 
	they were categorized as 'homeless,'  with no permanent address.  
		Although some had been there for months. 
			Their tenure longer than some lawful leaseholders elsewhere.
				There are some tenants who may leave very quickly
					 to escape a rent-collector.

Eventually, the land was cleared.  Nobody protested.  
	Government workers picked up an abandoned shoe, dirty underwear.  
		Nothing remained, except maybe a crushed beer can. 
			Everybody was gone, leaving behind only their trash.  
Then the property was fenced.

This land is still occupied 
   	by the ghosts of the occupants,
		of what the people might have been.  
No, not ghosts. 
   	The presence here is less substantial than ghosts.
This space is crowded with unimagined regrets.
And this land is occupied … by ground ivy.
Advertisements
This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s