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Sunday, October 10, 2010

OH CHICAGO! Suite White City

Suite White City,
October 2010

Chicago, I see you,
Though to be there, I must root out scenes,
Which now are very long ago, and what I share, here,
May be more dream, fiction, than actual historical event.

My life enfolds in pictures, and my mind, it sees
Lake-front parking, a lover’s lane,
Way down at east end of Foster,
At the time I and my son’s mother,
-- It was early evening --
A woman who in the future becomes my first,
The one, the only wife, and from whom, today, I count,
Almost thirty years, divorced.

A man, he came from within the bushes,
A stranger with mayhem his intent,
He held a great length of metal, a gaffing hook,
Then a big overhead swing, bang,
He punctured the hood on my Dad’s Chevrolet,
Which was a brand-new, 1960, four-door, hard-top, white.

We survived the attack,
Intact, secure behind the doors and car in reverse,
We were lucky, I guess.


I remember the time in the high rise, near North Side,
Where up on the 18th floor, my buddy and I, we knew
This cop, yes, she was fine.
Oh my, Chicago, I remember her, the fond delight!

I liked the way she let her 9MM sleep with us,
(She placed it under the pillow)
And her blues, her uniform with its badges,
And her leather belt and boots, whether she wore them,
Or when they were thrown, scattered and heaped,
Then accented with her undergarments atop,
I picture them,
The ensemble looked good on the rug of the bedroom floor.

Later, in the back seat, police cruiser unit,
I joined the convergence, while she drove,
And her partner sat shotgun, chased the culprit,
All sirens and beacons blazing,
Down the back alleys, behind the bungalows, fast, 30mph,
Galvanized cans crashing, their lids off, flying,
Like saucers, garbage was everywhere all over the concrete.


River View, the amusement park, sat down the block
From my first high school, its Ferris Wheel dominated
That side of the North Branch Chicago River.
Readers, please, excuse the free thinking.
I leap here and hope to insight and meaning,
Back to the time my great grandfather, John,
Came all the way from La Salle to see the lights,
The white city, magic, and when he returned, home,
Told tales about the city,
How great its marvels twenty-years after the Fire.

He, my great grandfather, he returned home,
And when he told the family about alternating current,
How white the city in the middle of the night,
He ignited in my grandmother lust, she wanted a part,
She sought the grandeur; she had to sell her soul,
What darkness, the narrow, a woman’s common lot,
The drudgery of hand laundry, the knowledge that,
As she often had lamented,
“Yes, I was born too soon.”

No easy task, ironing the household’s attire
With an implement heated on the stove,
Early to bed, early to arise, the great bore,
Small town life, it was said she would bed the devil
-- And many claimed she had -- she wanted out, escape
When she married my grandfather, an itinerant painter,
Who went from town to town painting church murals,
And following the grand cliche,
He drank his liquor as others might milk from a jar,
And to add to his cocktail’s already heady mix,
The family’s romance says, he had bad habit,
To moistened the stylist between his lips;
And we know, the paint his day had lead for its base.

Her husband, he promised her life, incandescent,
A large role in Illinois history, remember,
The new town rose up from the old, up from ashes,
And was there not real truth,
Behind the story, the Whites, the miracle,
How they had been rescued at Fort Dearborn?

She sought energy, electric, the moment
She wanted city burning, burning bright, resplendent.
Oh Chicago! It is from you that I have my life!

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