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Poems On / About CHICAGO  8/29/2014 11:26:24 PM
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Best Poems About / On CHICAGO
 
 
 
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  205.     

A Place With No Name

“They tell me you are wicked and I believe them…”
— Carl Sandburg, “Chicago”

This is place with no name,
an imagined ideal, nostalgia
wearing bib overalls, chewing
grass stems, herding cattle,
shearing creamy black-faced
lambs. We carry buckets full
of myths and great expectations.

She hungers for the flavor of buffalo, longs for fresh bones, cougar tracks, wolf dens, the scorch of rapid flames escorting one season into the next, total exchange of life for life, of death for hope.
This is neither fairytale nor ancient pastoral, neither romanticism nor barefoot babes—It is Kinsella’s antipastoral in America.
It is coyotes and coydogs lurking behind walls of fiery thistle, luring pups through horseweeds to razor sharp traps with whimpers and pledges of friendship.

I have seen the earth swallow her own children.
I have seen the sun drink until there was nothing left for the land, until the sunflowers hung their heads in shame and wept dry black tears.

I hear nightly incantations of this place, it howls sober songs—I hear the hollow sounds of owls that warn, the cry of cold winds that begin and end every year—
The indifferent frogs chorus through lightening and spring snow—they think only of their children.
I feel her opening up to swallow again—she baits the trap with illusions of splendor, with promises she will not keep—her hunger never satisfied.
She is my grandmother, my mother, your mother, our sister, the apparition from whom we can hide no better than the prince of Denmark. She speaks in a strange language. We lean in to listen—the bait.

This place still has no name.
The nostalgia rusts.
No one wears overalls anymore.
You must know what the owl means.

The old children throw their weapons to the surface in the wake of silver blades, in the bed of that ash which still remains, in the bed where life meets itself—the old women break their dishes against her surface.
The new children cast themselves into her arms—momentarily quench her thirst with tears—they wait for her to yawn.
Cattle are raised in muddy lots. Pigs never see the grass, never the sun, just grated floors and the pretentious hands that mock her grace.

I have seen the red of factories flow through creeks into ponds and wells. I have seen them celebrate their victories and she will not call out to them—she rejects their bitterness. They are sleeping pills, bad drugs.
I see a dead thing on the road. I know the ringed tail, the hoofed leg, the long snout, the white-gray fur, the domestication gone wrong. The vulture is grateful for our mistakes.

The indifferent frogs sing.
Still. The grass has cancer.
We only think of lambs on Easter.
These buckets are getting too heavy.
I cannot tell a lie.

I killed the tree, used it for books that I bought and never read, used it for walls I take for granted, for heat I could have lived without.
I ate the pig, fed the cattle to my children—we used their bodies for shoes, hats, manufactured food for feral cats and roaming hounds.
I leaned in to hear her faint voice whisper. I tried to kiss her, pulled away when she drew me near, stretched toward her again to hear a family secret.
I fed the vultures a skunk, a raccoon, an armadillo, and two cats that I threw into her long weeds.

I chew her poisonous stems, flirt with her cancer, taunt and dare it, engage it in a war where there can be no victor but her, in a battle I expect to win.

We carry buckets full of
myths and great expectations.
An imagined ideal, nostalgia
wearing bib overalls, chewing
grass stems, herding cattle,
shearing creamy black-faced lambs.
This is place with no name.
 
Jane L. Carman

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  206.     

A Poem For Myself

I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.
But, when I reached the age of twelve
I left that place for good.
My daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
Said my daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
When I left that Sunday morning
He was leaning on the barnyard gate.
Left my mama standing
With the sun shining in her eyes.
Left her standing in the yard
With the sun shining in her eyes.
And I headed North
As straight as the Wild Goose Flies,
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
Said I done strolled all those funky avenues
I'm still the same old black boy with the same old blues.
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good-
Gonna be free in Mississippi
Or dead in the Mississippi mud.
 
Etheridge Knight

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Read more: city poems, sun poems, time poems, poem poems
   
 

   
   
 

  207.     

Chicago Stepper

I’m keeping it smooth, stepping so tight,
a Chicago Stepper’s in the house tonight.

It’s the end of the day, I’ve been patiently waiting.
Now I’m headed home to shower and change.
Looking at the guys in their fly gear, checking out
themselves in the mirror. I see you ladies in your
high stepping heels and you’re looking as good as you feel.

I don’t have to wait until Friday to find what I seek,
In Chi-town there’s a steppers set every day of the week.

I’m haunting the clubs looking for the crowd
to hit the floor, stepping proud.
All the heavy hitters out to shine,
if you want to step with them you gotta get in line.

I don’t even play and I can’t rest
as I’m taking notes from the best of the best.
I feel the beat of the music as I stay on count,
when it’s all done right there’s no coming down.

I’m keeping it smooth, footwork is tight,
‘cause Chicago steppers are out tonight.
 
Cassandra Boyd

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  208.     

In The Car Lot

Taken from the Lyrics of 'In The Ghetto' by Elvis Presley
and rewritten to reflect the current state of GM and it's Dealerships.


In The Car Lot by Matt Matherne

As the snow flies,
On a cold and grey Chicago mornin'
Another new batch of cars arrives at the car lot
And he cries
'Cause if there's one thing that he don't need
It's another bunch of GM cars to sell on his car lot

People, don't you understand
The dealer needs a helping hand
Or he'll grow to be an angry old man some day
Take a look at your new car,
Are we too blind to see,
Or do you simply turn your head and look the other way?

Well the world turns
And this hungry dealer with the runny nose
Stays at his desk as the cold wind blows at the car lot
And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the car lot at night
And he learns how to cheat
And he learns how to steal in the car lot

Then one night in desperation
The old man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a Toyota, tries to run,
But he don't get far
And his salesmen cries

As a crowd gathers round an angry old man
Face down on the cement with a gun in his hand in the car lot
And as this once young man dies,
On a cold and grey Chicago mornin'
Another load of GM cars at the car lot
And his salesmen cries
In the car lot
In the car lot
 
Matt Matherne

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