Central Square, Cambridge, MA

“The form of a city changes faster than the heart of a mortal.”– Baudelaire

The streets teem with activity. There is a giant hole where the building filled with many small businesses, owned by individuals, flourished. There was a clothing store over 90 years old, a breakfast place where one whose pockets contained only a few wrinkled bills could eat. Lucy Parsons Bookstore has been chased to Davis Square and then from Davis Square to where? City Foods closed in the dead of night, leaving only a store that sells liquid spirits. A giant hole. A husk. A ghost of a place where the homeless drift side by side with shoppers and lawyers. The rents rise and the area of the square fills with yuppies moving amidst the many shelter dwellers who have no place to go.

Two coffee shops owned by young entrepreneurs; the Liberty Coffee Shop, a place where bookshelves spilled over with donated novels and reference books and computer set-ups rested side by side, and the Phoenix Coffee Shop, which was the last bastion for people who enjoyed a cigarette with their coffee with regular poetry readings that took place, where musicians could come and play and put out a basket for donations, the Phoenix; a place where genius sat side by side with minds cratered by madness and drugs—both gone.

A Starbucks has taken the place of an old breakfast shop. They modified the property they purchased so now all the stores on that corner have the same look. Starbucks. Where wage slaves work for corporate overseers.

The shelters. The wet shelter on Albany Street. Shelter Inc. The Salvation Army. Will it come time for these dwellings to disappear in the middle of a moonless night?

How do you change the face of Central Square? First you sew up it’s mouth, then you rip out the eyes, fill the nostrils with cement, and then you finish with a proposal for a frontal lobotomy. Is there a second for this proposal? All in favor?


The City Council, none of them poor, rub the cash in their pockets, or is it their Visa Cards? Like a wishing stone of old. Beg for our votes and then do whatever they want.

Massachusetts Avenue has narrowed in Central Square, a clogged artery. The heart of a city is mortal; rip it out; only the husk of a city remains.



, , ,




Leave a Reply