Tampa in the Time of COVID


I leave for forty years and return
To find you’ve grown wide, long and leggy
Cars speed by Daytona 500 fast, dangerous
Streets, sidewalks, malls, everywhere crowds
People from all parts of America here
Come to see the Bucs, the Rays, the Bolts
To be part of this first championship season
But the bulldozers tore the heart out of you

Women talk of stock market trends
Brag about money they have garnered
So much glorious cash for doing nothing
On street corners, homeless men, women
Vie to beg under the blazing winter sun
I feel envy, resentment, indifference, anger
What corporation is the money invested
In hot investments heating up the planet

Three thousand a day pour into the state
To set up house and stay a lifetime
Apartments go up one next to another
A honeycomb of cells maxing infrastructure
This new Tampa is not for the old and infirm
Young, active, running, biking, out in cafes
Walking dogs, masked feminine male faces
Paying top dollar for a t-shirt with pirates logo

I remember a hot sleepy town moving slow
A brief stop on the way south to the beach
Not much to brag about except the arts
Tampa as an old boys club wanted more
First football, soccer, baseball until forty years
Later champions walk the streets buy bling
In the dying malls, Latin X, African American
Fashion shaped by nouveau riche athletes

Elders forced to retire by this pandemic
To old trailer parks with a waiting list
As death occurs on streets named for birds
The migration south is too fast to keep up
To house, clothe, feed, the masses leaving
Behind crippling ice, snow, rain, and fire
Why stay when you can bike along the bay
A chic face mask tucked into spandex tights

I do not witness a raising of consciousness here
I see a divide between classes of people widen
There is a growing hunger for truth to be revealed
Somewhere a surgeon cracks open a patients chest
Finding a heart weakened from fear of contact
Human nature blind to the cause that love is all
And without love, we become a violent people
A race led by war, domination, and blood lust