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1930, Underground

Jan. 14, 2013
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Folding in and out of the background noise
with hunchbacks turned upward, tucked below
the rumbling streets, Wisconsin Avenue  and a
chandelier of cockroaches. A sewer’s eye view,
a slow pace overtaken, and all that separates us
from the ghosts is a torn sheet of forgotten drywall.

It’s 1930 forever, past the 1925 caste of Plankinton,
beneath the arcade, just south of Daily’s fine pens.
The air is wrought with water, the smoke had fallen
only to resist kicking up as our feet gently trekked
following only the swaying lines of dragging rats’ tails
where the streetcar tried to diverge, but where funds
ran dry, and depression fell over the rustbelt, and
industry fled, and soon footsteps ceased to echo,
and the Milwaukee Electric Rail & Light company
left only unspace below the avenue.

Meet our city, our forgotten subterranean split,
a ramshackle bunker torn up, unfinished, left for us.
To stand at the edge and gawk into the darkness,
and in the absence of light—nothing.
The streetcars never finished the slow dive down,
never tamed the turn to 4th street in the cool, damp,
stale air of its very own underground. It’s just for us,
our masturbatory pleasure of reveling in the
sacrosanct: the sacred tomb below a dying mall.




Sam Pekarske is a recent graduate of the UWM creative writing program, an avid musician, and a life-long resident of Milwaukee,


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