Prompt Blog #5: The Trouble With Charlotte

I found a document written and published by Mecklenburg County entitled “State of the Environment Report” 2010. I spent a considerable amount of time reading some disturbing figures about population growth and the general environmental impact on our air, land, water, and waste facilities of such sprawl and over-development. It is true that Charlotte is not the same as it was in 1977, the year I was born.  According to this report, the Charlotte Metro area’s “developed acres per person” back then was .056 acres. In 2010, the figure reached a staggering .41 acres developed per person. This one statistic says it all. Charlotte is suffering from over growth. While some cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland have been reeling from population decline, Charlotte has acted like a magnet for many of those employed by major banks who chose a more affordable cost of living than New York City. This does not account for all of Charlotte’s growth to be sure, but it is rare to meet someone who was actually born here. Bank of America, IBM, TIAA Cref, Wells Fargo, and many others bring people in droves. While the city is suffering from the recession, it doesn’t seem to be slowing development. I tried my hand at expressing how I feel about all this with a poem.

The Trouble With Charlotte
A rage in its center, pulsing upward
beating outward, veins reaching
all the way into the wilds
of South Carolina
a city willfully bellows,
sucking the air in
scratching it out in our throats
in the flat lines and hill sides
in the four wheels and escalades
on the bank side
north side oozing, thick with cholesterol,
ozone, and particulate matter,
erect heads, not even plastering,
pestering the carpool lane
to the IBM and Wells Fargo Complexes
Bank of America
spreading, like a galaxy of half walls and gray carpets
and industrial waste
scented with blue shirt starch and the steam of
chain restaurants stacked high with pseudo meats
and lifting burnt forests with a ball point pen
so soccer moms and dads and football players
can drive forty-five minutes to that new Brazilian
steakhouse that flies in seafood from Alaska;
sinking a fork into eighty-three pounds per person
vehicular emissions
south side biding their time in country clubs
licking up tidbits of the sewage treatment plant
over by the mall
and carrying the 3,325 pounds of trash
per annum, per body,
per pottery barn home delivery;
east side’s dredging up the past, talking about roads
and mass transportation and needing
a way out,
a way in,
west side’s gentrifying, newly developing,
putting a fresh coat of paint on re-use, mixed-use,
smart-use development, writing its spin,
a small town kid wanting to be “world class,”
desperate to fit in
the trouble with Charlotte is
all that breeding and importation
of the bodies and the breaths of
those born here or north or west and looking
for a better way of living
more square footage
for less
more acreage
for less.

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