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A Sea Of Melancholy

She sailed upon a gentle sea of melancholy-brave oars dipping.

She was awash with long ago laments which I could not guess.
Her movements were slow.
Her eyes never darted-they oozed from side to side-
tiny lagoons abutting her sea-
and languidly
she spoke to me.

'I have had so much sadness in my life
young'un and time was I was a bright young thing
but life can wear you down-only so many things can go wrong
before you put your finger to your head and imagine its a gun.'

Friends die, she said, I'm 93 and three husbands buried,
even most of the children dead.
Yet God keeps me lingering on, I think, way past my time.'

My great grandmother had this sad dignity, layers of laments
speaking to herself as much as to me.

'I wanted to know her, her life, and I was her great-great grandchild
eager to know who and where she came from.
She would sit, in her high-backed chair smoking little cigars
starting a story and then abandoning it. Some times she finished
a story but you never could be sure, because her voice would drift
off into memory.

'I was rambunctious' she was saying.' ran off the reservation, barely 20-
they were trying to marry me off to an old white man, half blind, and crazy.

'I was having none of that.
Walked right out and hopped the 401 freight, cap down passing myself off as a boy.
Had me a good old time too.
Them days people hunkered down in the freight cars and never spoke, looking
for a gin bottle and the next stop.

I was fine from the Dakotas to Chicago where in the last leg, a man noticed me
saying 'you ain't no boy are ya? '

Cutest boy, not much older than me, his pockets full of bread loaves and he
handed me one saying ' You look hungry.'

Gave me one of those big-as-a -house smiles of his and I was a goner from the start.
That is how love is sometimes just comes over ya and you just hold on for dear
life because you are not in control. It was like that with me and him.

Called me his 'box-car baby' and cuddled down with me for the final ride into
the city, eating bread and spinning dreams.

'Oh he was a dreamer, on the way to Chicago he said to get his share of some land his grandfather had left in in Alabam'. He was going to take that money he said and do big things-travel high wide and handsome, make him some money and find him a life mate cause times were too rough to travel through life alone.
When I die he said 'I want to die in the arms of my honey, just like this, ' he said squeezing on me.

It was not exactly a marriage proposal, but, he acted like it was and after a month of haggling with his kin in Chicago over who got what, he came out of the lawyer building waving a check saying 'let's go get hitched.' Just like that, he said it. just like that.

'We was together 30 years and God saw fit to take him early'
Great great grand looked at me with those melancholy eyes and said 'things
since have never been the same with me. Never got over God taking him.
Didn't seem fair.'
'Yes' she said 'life has a way of giving you a bit of heaven on earth and then for me heaven just went away.
A single tear formed behind her closed eye-lid, and, I imagined, dropped into her sea.
Lonnie Hicks

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Santa Fe

The sky is bluest
in the clean, thin mountain air
of Santa Fe.
Seven days in the city
of Holy Faith,
but my faith is anything but holy.

It's 3: 30 a.m.
The cottonwood's roots are buried deep
underneath the adobe house.
Its arms scrape the skylight.
Raindrops tap against the window.
She sighs and says,
'I always loved you.'

I roll out of bed
and, in the dark, reach for my clothes.
By 4: 30 a.m. I'm on the road to Albuquerque.
My thoughts are on the hot air balloon
that, for awhile,
will suspend me above earth,
above the candle burning on the horizon,
above the rattle and hiss of the world.

The clouds are icebergs
floating in an azure sea
carried past Sandia peak.
'How's the weather in Chicago, '
the pilot asks.
'Heat wave is blasting the city, ' I reply.
'My brother says the sky is hazy, dirty.'

'Do you like the Midwest, ' he continues.
I shrug, ' I love the city.'
The roar of the flame drowns my voice,
and the hot air balloon rises.
My thoughts are of the adobe house
at the foot of Cristo De Sangre mountains
and the soft warm body waiting for me.

'I drove by Chicago back in '94, ' the pilot says,
'So, how do you like living in the Midwest? '
The balloon brushes a tree top,
the Tampa Bay newlyweds squeal.
I shrug, 'It's okay.'
No one listens.

Coyote sings to the vanishing moon
then streaks across open space.
The young lovers scream with excitement.
'So, how do you like Chicago, '
the pilot asks.
I mumble, 'I loved a woman there once.'
But no one cares,
as the hot air balloon descends
and the land of enchantment unfolds
before an ascending sun.
Esteban Arellano

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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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sany okk

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Poems On / About CHICAGO