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Empire Lines: Walking Denver's Colorado Boulevard


Do you feel it rising,

Like lava and bones?

Cracked feet and strollers

Skirting edges of thrones


Cherry Creek doesn’t see us

More money, more clothes

Hilltop and cameras

Humanity disposed


It’s pouring outside

Five bags from the mart

Milk, apples, and cans

Sweating from the start


I can’t wipe my eyes

As I slip through the mud

Foggy glasses and pain

Devoured by floods


My bags start to break

Sending beans down the gutter

No cover at the stop

Survival and thunder


Waiting for the bus

Should be here soon

Yesterday’s was late

Stopped running at noon


I’ll never understand

Why it feels so violent

My heart beats like yours

Too many are silent


Does public mean public?

Like free days at the zoo

Car lobby kisses

I pay taxes too


Money looks away

Power clenches its grip

My humble human frame

The daily practical trip


Like widgets and pawns

Fixed on screens and machines

You bypass my bleeding

Numbness, no feeling


Parking and driving

Gods of cement

Ultimate separation

Gas guzzling lament


It’s no good for you, too

So much cussing and honking

This road is a sham

Lights blinking, no dancing


I walk and I roll

Sick trees and dead bees

Splashed by the puddles

Of consumer disease


Towers and growth

Magicians of destruction

Colonial strings

Worthiness equals production


City Park trees

Give me rest and relief

Kids playing and jumping

Shake off the grief


Park Hill skylines

From golf course grasses

Blocked by fences,

red lines, and classes


I want you to see me

My eyes and my tears

I want you to know me

My dreams and my fears


Stop slicing our lives

By skin and by coin

Slow all the way down

So all may join


My breaths and my being

Are valid and true

Break free from the lies

That keep me from you

: :

This poem is dedicated to (1) all beloveds who move through the City of Denver by foot or on a wheelchair as their primary form of transportation and (2) unraveling from and imagining our way out of violent cars-before-people practices on all arterial streets everywhere.


*written February of 2021 by Jonathon Stalls

*created and produced alongside the Living Denver Podcast with History Colorado, House of POD and Rebecca Mendoza Nunziato (visit the podcast and poem reading here)

*photo: taken by Jonathon Stalls via Pedestrian Dignity project on Colorado Boulevard and 26th Ave (Denver)

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