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Poems On / About CHICAGO  9/17/2014 2:36:18 PM
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Best Poems About / On CHICAGO
 
 
 
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  181.     

Hiraeth and Chewing Gum: Tropical botanist Llewelyn Williams 1901-1980

The clans are splintered
Evans Williams Griffiths Price
title bearers of half-dark past,
side by side, alike
yet individual as the trees

We crossed roads not to meet
sweet hidden goosegogs,
illicit pleasures of the boys
while our sisters learned sewing,
dιcor and decorum.

Ach y fi! In the docks
the lame, the beggars
grimy from engine coke,
Welsh speaking, Portuguese speaking.
Tea-clippers. Hiraeth.

Llewelyn went to Assam.
Already scholar, already
naturalist. Those goosegogs,
scratchy bilberries,
dirt-frilled daffodils.

Assam to Wales, Chicago to Wales,
Venezuela to Wales,
from Thailand to Chicago.
His life fills these 56 boxes,
76.2 linear feet of shelves.

A poet of the camera,
in pages of threescore years
he photographed lush plants,
jasmines, coffees, exotics
of doubtful spread.

He strode, sailed, flew
with greatcoat and briefcase,
trunks of equipment,
bold information-runner,
intelligence botanist,

committed recorder
at the zenith of industry
of leaves through a pinprick,
vistas in the plantations,
shuttered light.

These Welsh words are simples.
No names for tropical trees
in our hemmed-in language
Of the heart and hearth.
English the passport.

Botanical Latin
(which is often Turkish)
set over the poetry
of our lives, their secrets
arcane.

Oh she met him, she'd have loved
Chicago Taffs, the Venezuelans,
Patagonians, inroads in Thailand.
She'd have breathed in
the excitement of the tropics.

This love affair of the tree-juice,
latex, the warm sun-sap
that sets all elastic.
There's money and honour
in this kind of drug-running.

Chile, chile, gutter percha,
couma, jelutong
set against hallucinogens,
white wicked milk
of sleep-bearing poppies.

But Welsh is for poetry,
for tradition and goodness
from Dafydd ap Gwylim
to englyn, cynganedd
and the bawdy penillion.

Travel letters to Mary,
stay-at-home wife like a sister,
paper pulped from pine,
commercial tree products.
A life-work's demands.

Chewing gum. Long riding, hard
dancing, the youth cult.
Mucky and sweet, gum arabic
with spearmint, the sharp plant,
penetrating flower.

We cannot eat grass.
There is need for this substance,
grey in spittle, imported.
There is need for the scientist,
Welsh world patriot.

I believe this puzzled world
that begins in the valleys
and stretches out everyway.
The same at seventy-five
as at twenty-five.

Da Iawn, Pob Hwyl.
In Time's trapped classroom
Llewelyn of the chewing gum
still sips his Assam, as he
nods to his friends,

Welsh still on his tongue,
in his archive, his own forest
waiting, the trees named
in their order, surviving
careless and confident.
 
Sally Evans

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  182.     

Evening, Just Before Twilight

Evening,
forty miles west of Chicago,
in a frozen field.
Snow spirits appear and disappear
as the North Wind howls
at the winter moon.
I light a cigar
and wish for a shot of tequila,
wish it were summer,
and I was pulling up
to the Baptist Mission in Texas
where my old man spoke the word
and the choir sang,
when I believed in tongues,
in heavenly utterances,
and the Holy Ghost was immense power
seething within,
and you the sacred vessel
I poured myself into.

My thoughts are of a time
when wind surfed the treetops
and apple blossoms swirled down
on an insouciant world and covered two beings
in its mystical cloak,
when I pressed you against earth
as it spun and traveled
around a star that moved
through space and time
to a point
that exalted you
and love
sacrificed self.

I wrap myself in a season
when I walked into the hullabaloo
of a day,
into the bell
of a lost Sunday,
when tulips were a lover's bed
and wild violets were a bouquet
arranged for you.
I remember a ruckus,
a riot
in my heart,
a hooligan love,
a rapture.

I recall
a time
as the North Wind howls
at the winter moon,
and the Big Dipper pours
twilight
into evening sky -

my thoughts are of you
as I follow the North Star home,
a thousand stars
lighting the way.
 
Esteban Arellano

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  183.     

A Power-Plant

The Fisk Street turbine power station in Chicago

The invisible wheels go softly round and round—
Light is the tread of brazen-footed Power.
Spirits of air, caged in the iron tower,
Sing as they labor with a purring sound.
The abysmal fires, grated and chained and bound,
Burn white and still, in swift obedience cower;
While far and wide the myriad lamps, aflower,
Glow like star-gardens and the night confound.
This we have done for thee, almighty Lord;
Yea, even as they who built at thy command
The pillared temple, or in marble made
Thine image, or who sang thy deathless word.
We take the weapons of thy dread right hand,
And wield them in thy service unafraid.
 
Harriet Monroe

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  184.     

Fireflies and Summer Nights

At ten I caught fireflies
in the Chicago night
cupping them in my hands
giving them to you
where we watched them
twinkle away
above us
indistinguishable from the stars.

The next day you took me
to see the butterflies
land
to drink the Flower's Ambrosia-
their wings gently swaying.

My hamster got to know you on sight
and squealed when you snuck into my room;
you would feed him sunflower seeds;
he took them staring
lovingly at you.

That summer
on your grandparents farm
you showed me how to position a horseshoe
for each nail driven;
where each day we rode the fences
counting the cows
to be sure
no one was missing.

We were a little family then
boy and girl
mare and stallion
clopping along
by the little brook
coming back
each day
sitting supper.

One day your
grandfather whispered to me
'Did you kiss her yet? '
I stammered and didn't answer
and he said
'Well what are you waiting for?
I know my granddaughter
just like her grandmother
she'd like a little kiss.'

Down state Illinois had fireflies too
and I punched holes in the top of a peanut butter jar
with 25 fireflies inside
who illuminated that first kiss-
yours and mine;
when the jar lid came open
the fireflies flew
some landing in your hair
twinkling and blinking.

I took them out one by one
setting them free
my face close to your face
and I kissed you again
pressing close
an
Eternal Memory

Now
and
Then.
 
Lonnie Hicks

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