space race by christian sammartino
I still believe I can build a space shuttle
With tinfoil helmets we wore as children
And garbage I glean from street corners.
Please let me craft our mother ship
In your backyard—my home sickness
Is the size of Pluto.
Cold war kids like us can’t wait for wealth,
Trickling down from superpowers.
We have to launch our own salvation.
Our Space Race is between landlords
And every one of our ancestors who never
Could defy the gravity of this town.
We were bound to these tenement space stations
The day our parents signed our birth certificates.
Slumlords will redline us outside
The city limits of their solar systems
If we linger in this neighborhood.
They will terminate our mission to exist
With eviction notices, claiming our rent payments
Aren’t big enough to live on this planet.
We will be homeless like Pluto,
Exiled because we are too small to brawl
The bullies of the universe out of our path.
Houston, we’ve had a problem since we were born
And mission control’s phone lines are dead.
If NASA could slingshot Apollo 13
Around the moon, two broke kids
Can escape the orbit of the ghetto.
We will blastoff from this neighborhood,
Abandon this paycheck-to-paycheck city,
Discover a new galaxy to call home.
Our small step away from the man
Is a giant leap toward a homeland.