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Poems On / About CHICAGO  11/27/2014 11:38:01 PM
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  205.     

In Search Of Americans

In search of Americans!

There was a new comer in our town, a noisy suburb of Chicago,
With planes above, and four wheels below,
Not mentioning railroad tracks and
The trains passing by day and night, too fast or too slow!

The newcomer moved next door, to 1434 Main street, to the old lady's,
Mrs. Fodyle's place, an old red brick bungalow from the thirties.
I guess he must have seen the 'Rooms for Rent' sign in the front window!

First time, when I laid eyes on him, I got a strange feeling, a bittersweet feeling,
As if I knew him, had seen him before..., a long time ago...
A thirtyish, rather tall and thin young fellow,
Wearing an old farmer's hat, odd to see nowadays
And his jacket which had seen better days!
Just the way he was dressed,
The way he walked...,
And his beat up dusty
GMC filled up with his worldly possessions blocking the car's windows...

It took me a while..., I was sure, I had seen him before..., but where...?
Yes! Indeed: 'Tom Joad' from the Grapes of Wrath...!
He did bare an uncanny resemblance to him! Just like an apple cut in half
Who was he? What was he doing in our neck of the woods? !

His name was Ivan, an émigré from the Eastern Europe
Had lived a couple of years in Philadelphia,
Had been conned by the scam artists there
It seemed he was running away from them, or from something,
Maybe looking for a place to settle down?

One day, early in the morning of a warm July day,
I noticed the newcomer, Ivan, after a few weeks, was leaving Mrs. Fodyl's place for good.
He approached me and asked me (in his thick accent) like a confused little kid:
'Mr. Joe! Where are Americans? !
At work, in the factory, it seems everyone speaks Spanish, I guess they are Mexicans.
At school, it seems they are all Asians, Indians, koreans, Pakistanis, ..., even the only movie house
in town is owned by them, they are playing Asian movies...
Mr. Joe! where do you suppose Americans are! ? '

I hadn't quite come up with an answer, Ivan, the newcomer, hastily added:
'I am on my way to Minnesota, then to Oregon...,
I am sure I am going to meet Americans there...
Goodbye Mr. Joe! '

Then, he got in his old beat up GMC and drove away...
I yelled: 'Ivan! Wait a minute! You asked me a question!
I have to answer you! Ivan! '

Then, again! I really didn't have an answer...
Ivan had to find out for himself!
 
Joe Sadeghloo

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  206.     

Riding Schwinns in '56

You had to have a Schwinn
to lead this pack of boys
riding bikes full speed
baking under the Chicago sun
laughing after senior year
heading to the local park
to play a game of ball
or lob a cane pole
in the park lagoon
with stinkbait on the hook
to catch a bullhead,
cousin of the catfish,
small but just as tough.

Riding Schwinns was High Mass
in the summer after high school
before everyone would join the Army
or wait to be drafted.
Maybe one or two of us
had sober fathers working
and we would go to college.
I was one of those.
Going to college was something
I was told I'd do from third grade on.
So do the homework, my father said,
or he'd wash up and visit the nuns.

Korea ended not too long before.
Two guys ahead of us
would never ride a Schwinn again
or go to college on the GI Bill.
One guy did come back.
For years he walked in circles
around his family's back yard
smoking real Pall Malls,
unimpaired by filters, very long.
Butch was shell-shocked,
neighbors said.
We'd have to pray for him.
They didn't call it PTSD back then.
 
Donal Mahoney

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  207.     

Go for a Walk

Nik Wallenda, King of the Wire,
Chose Chicago to take a walk
'Twixt and 'tween the twin corncob spire,
Marina Towers. Wind would knock
Against big shoulders daring to
Keep balance 'cross a hundred feet,
Hundreds of feet below in view
Of one misstep and death to meet.
A massive audience watched live,
The city and the world held breath.
Would or would not the will survive?
Nik once more walked away from death.

A first awesome sight to behold,
Walking the wire with a blindfold.
 
Ima Ryma

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  208.     

Oh, The Hats

The cities, oh, the cities,
Chicago, New York and St. Lou,
Sacramento to Pittsburg to Boston,
Upward and outward they grew.

The shoes, oh, the shoes,
The pairs had no left and no right!
Clumping in streets of wet clay and mud,
I shudder, appraising their plight!

The hems, oh, the hems,
Of multiple ankle-length skirts!
And oh, those cantankerous corsets,
Resolutely drawn in till it hurts!

The wool, oh, the wool,
Some folks would have never survived.
Though itchy and scratchy and rough,
It kept many adventures alive!

But the hats, oh, the hats,
On peacock feathers they splurged!
When pheasants and quails donated their tails,
The ladies all fluttered like birds!
 
Connie Yost

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