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FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
In school
Looking through our literature book
At the poetry selections
I always liked the ones by
Carl Sandburg
Because they looked and read
The least like poetry
I didn't like poetry back then
With it's sing song meters and
Pregnant metaphors
I was just a kid
I like poetry a lot more now
Though I don't understand too much
I know enough to think a lot less of
Carl Sandburg now than I did then
Which is no reflection on Sandburg
I'm sure I'll eventually come back round to him
Smoke Scribe Sep 2017
Dear Mr. Carl Sandburg,

Once, you wrote:

"The lucid and endless wrinkles"
Draw in, lapse and withdraw.
Wavelets crumble and white spent bubbles
Wash on the floor of the beach."


Having observed often, the exact phenomenon you reference
in the words above, the undulating action upon a sand white beach, patient waiting the greetings of the all-day wavelets, which reminded you, which reminded me, of the lucid and endless wrinkles sea worn upon our faces, it is my happy duty incumbent to inform your spirit, that we have yet in this the 21st century, to invent, a machine that does it better than you man, hu-man, connecting our aged faces to the timeless stroking of the Earth by the water that sustains life.

Yours truly,

Mr. Smoke Scribe
I’ve been hearin a lot of bad mouthin about socialism ever since the president tried to provide affordable healthcare to the working poor… I also hear some carping when someone suggested that the minimum wage paid to workers should allow them to buy the necessities of life… I don't hear too much bad things about medicare and social security…. I guess thats not really socialism…. I don't hear too much about the big bailouts of the bankers with government money after they put us in a recession… privatized gain and socialized risk must also be a strain of a special kind of entitlement...

We’ll I think this whole socialism business needs some clarity about what its all about…. so I made a list of socialist heroes so my fellow American’s can get a better feel for what going on with this red menace...

Heres a list of socialist heroes….

Jesus Christ of Nazareth...I just can't get past the Beatitudes thing. Since all the po folks of the earth get to inherit all the good stuff when they pass on.... I figure heaven gotta be some kinda socialist paradise....Some don’t buy the idea that Jesus is building a Mar-A-Largo estate for Donald Trump... while having the rest of us live in our cramped apartments…. Jesus did say he’s building many rooms but the po folks get first dibs on everything… For all the doubting Thomas’s and Thomasina’s get Sean Hannity’s fastidious fact checkers to read the good news in the Gospel of Matthew.

Jack London... To think he’s been spreading the Red Menace in the mind of America’s innocent children for near a century now…. When Michelle Bachmann finds out about this she'll introduce a bill to change the title of The Call of the Wild to the Call of the Commies... I don't think it will affect Sarahcuda because she don’t read at a sixth grade level yet. Alaska is safe for now....And all comrade citizens are doing just fine thank you.... spending their annual royalty checks they get from the state for all the North ***** oil drilling...  Hell during Sarah's half term governorship... she did what every self respecting socialist despot would do... she paid out a special $1,200.00 Permanent Fund royalty dividend to all comrade "North to the Future" citizens.....

Carl Sandburg... The People Yes? Sang the songs of the People Yes! Celebrated a broad shouldered, hog butchering America who wrote a biography with love and affection for our country’s greatest Republican President....  Whats that about?...And his treatment of Billy Sunday...a back in the day,.. aw shucks,... from the backwoods holler... Kenneth Copeland like... Believer's Voice of Victory preacher of his day... who hurled fire and brimstone at cowering congregants so when he passed the plate they filled it up with hoards of heavenly manna to fatten his bank account overstuffed with moth eaten earthly treasure… I'm sure even Pat Robertson believes Sandburg’s soul lies beyond the sweet redemption of Jesus...

George Orwell… Unlike **** Cheney... who said he had better things to do when his country called on him to serve during the Vietnam War... Orwell’s fervor for democracy was so great he left his native land to lay his life on the line to fight against the fascist menace in Spain... When he got into a battle he came across an enemy combatant taking a ****. He later said, “I let him go. How do you shoot a guy with his pants down?”... A deep respect for the humanity of others is clear evidence of a socialist's fatal flaw and why the righteous laissez faire American’s hate it so....Unfortunately Orwell and his comrades lost this one to Franco and his sugar daddies Il Duce and Mein Fuhrer… but we’ll keep up the good fight…..

Dorothy Day… This saint of the proletariat kept the soup kettle brewin to feed the working poor during the Great Depression... She spent her own money to build shelters to house catholic workers and didn't make a **** dime off the vulnerability of their screaming want... A squandered opportunity maybe…. definitely a coocoo loon according to the weltentstehung of Ayn Rand… so popular around these parts these days...but Dorothy laid up some serious dosh in heaven for her labors here on earth…. for where your treasure is…. there you will find your heart also… Anyone who knew her said Dorothy's heart was always in the right place….

Albert Einstein…. this guy was no dope….he knew enough to make make moral distinctions of exploitation and greed… and the self condemnation of conspicuous consumption...the destructive capacity of unfettered power….and worked hard to figure out equations to end the wastefulness of war... he did teach at Princeton though… more proof of the red infestation of the universities…. greed is good…. knowledge is bad….

Eugene V. Debs…. went to prison for his beliefs… got a million votes from jail… thats how devious these reds are.... even from prison they run for president and fool the working people into participating in the democratic process…. he believed everyone should vote… and would probably be imprisoned today for violating all the laws being passed that take voting rights away… gotta watch the reds…. next thing you know they'll close the electoral college and force politicians to pay a 100% poll tax on all the money they take from their corporate sponsors….

WEB DuBois… the souls of an oppressed people is the soul of a nation...ain’t it written that a nation is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable?.... Mr. DuBois fought to bring justice to all those lacking the means and rights in a nation teeming with diverse groups with needs and wants… it ain’t just about afro american jazz… its about the blues sung by all people on the outside looking in… he believed it unjust that only a small portion of American’s held the keys to the doors of prosperity… everyone should have a key to unlock the doors of opportunity… everyone…. that includes workers, immigrants, women, gay folks, religious minorities, disabled and the poor and lots other people I haven’t thought of yet…. but what about the real Americans...whose gonna stand up for them??????????

Woody Guthrie…. this country belongs to us… next time a frackin jacker comes to tear up your land and dump poison in your well… next time a strung out strip miner wants to plow away the top of your mountain and dump arsenic in your river…. next time a GMO attorney says the crops you planted don’t belong to you because they are contractually patented to him…. next time a big oil company says that they got a right to pollute the oceans and **** the fish so they can pump out a passel of fossil fuel… next time a bankster comes knocking at the door to take your house away… next time a tea slappin Teabagger starts screaming that the Koch Brothers should be allowed to own the national parks so they can cut the trees down for firewood…. tell em...you heard it on good authority…. that this land is your land…. not theirs….. if thats socialism…. I’m liken it….

American Socialists

Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land

Oakland
10/21/13
jbm
if i was a pearl i’d feel itchy scratchy stuck inside an oyster shell if i was a tree i’d  be a big fat redwood fantasizing about Julia Butterfly Hill living and peeing around me if i was a dog i’d be a Catahoula hound if i was Italian i’d be Sicilian if i was pasta i’d be spaghetti if i was Icelandic i’d be Bjork if i was a rock star i’d be Elvis Presley Bob Dylan Jimi Hendrix Jim Morrison John Lennon Bruce Spingsteen Maynard James Keenan if i was i writer i’d be Herman Melville Mark Twain James Joyce William Faulkner Thomas Bernhard Yukio Mishima Naguib Mahfouz Phillip K. **** Gabriel Garcia Marquez Annie Proulx Lydia Davis if i was a poet i’d be Walt Whitman Sylvia Plath Ted Hughes Gwendolyn Brooks Pablo Neruda  Heather McHugh Carl Sandburg Robert Frost Arthur Rimbaud Dante Alighieri Homer if i was a painter i’d be Leonardo Da Vinci Michelangelo da Caravaggio Johan Vermeer Rembrandt van Rijn Paul Cezanne Marcel Duchamp Jackson ******* Mark Rothko Ad Reinhardt Anselm Kiefer Susan Rothenberg if i was a photographer i’d be Man Ray Ansel Adams Edward Weston Diane Arbus Robert Mapplethorpe Sally Mann Helmut Newton Richard Avedon Annie Leibovitz if i was a philosopher i’d be Socrates Plato Aristotle Jean Jacques Rousseau Sören Kierkegaard Immanuel Kant Karl Marx Georg Hegel Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau Ralph Waldo Emerson  Jean-Paul Sartre Jean Baudrillard Michel Foucault if i was a singer i’d be Woody Guthrie Otis Redding Grace Slick Bob Marley Joni Mitchell Marvin Gaye Johnny Cash Patsy Cline June Carter Patti Smith Chrissie Hinde Nick Cave P J Harvey Beyonce if i wa a band i’d be Velvet Underground Ramones *** Pistols Clash Cure Smiths Joy Division Uncle Tupelo Pixies Nirvana Nine Inch Nails Madrugada Sigur Ros White Stripes Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra Justice of the Unicorns if i was a boot i’d be Chippewa Frye Ariat Red Wing Tony Lama Wellington if i was a shoe i’d be Christian Louboutin Jimmy Choo Kedds Chaco Chuck Taylor p f flyer if i was a dress i’d be Channel Dolce & Gabbanna Giorgio Armani Marc Jacobs Comme des Garçons if i was a cowboy shirt i’d be H bar C Rockmount Temp Tex Karman Wrangler Levis Strauss Lee if i was a hat i’d be a Stetson Borsalino Stephen Jones if i was a fruit i’d be a mango apple banana blackberry if i was an scent i’d smell like fresh perspiration jasmine sandalwood ylang ylang the ocean if i was a doctor i’d be a gynecologist neurosurgeon if i was a flower i’d be a hibiscus rose orchard if i was a stone i’d be a sparkling ruby diamond opal if i was a knife i’d be a k-bar switch-blade machete if i was a gun i’d be a Remington Winchester Beretta Glock AK-47 if i was a car i’d be a Lamborghini Ferrari BMW Saab Volkswagen GTO Ford Mustang Dodge Challenger if i was a  TV show i’d be Law and Order if i was actor i’d be Charlie Chaplin Humphrey Bogart Steve McQueen Robert De Niro Ed Norton Shawn Penn if i was an actress i’d be Marlene Dietrich Ingrid Bergman Natalie Wood Audrey Hepburn Marilyn Monroe Helen Mirren  Meryil Streep Brigette Fonda Robin Wright Julianne Moore Angie Harmon if i was a female comedian i’d be Gilda Radner Lily Tomlin Nora Dunn Joan Cusack Sarah Silverman Tina Fey if i was a  football player i’d be Sid Luckman George Blanda Walter Payton **** Butkus Mike Singletary Joe Montana Jerry Rice Payton Manning LaDanian Tomlinson  Drew Breeze if i was a celebrity i’d be Charlotte Gainsbourg if i was a rapper i’d be Tupac Shakur if i was a movie director i’d be Sam Peckinpah Robert Altman Stanley Kubrick Roman Polanski Werner Herzog Rainer Fassbinder Louis Bunuel Alfred Hitchcock Jean-Luc Godard François Truffaut if i was a bird i’d be a eagle hawk sparrow bluebird if i was a fish i’d be a dolphin shark narwhal Charlie the tuna if i was breakfast i’d be a French toast pancake folded in half with 2 strips of bacon in between if i was a cold cereal i’d be snap crackle popping rice crispies shredded wheat cheerios oatmeal if i was tea i’d be Japanese green matcha Irish breakfast Tulsi Thai holy basil Lapsang souchong Luzianne Lipton if i was a soap i’d be French hand milled ayurvedic Avon Ivory Dove Pears Aveda  if i was a man i’d be a football basketball baseball tennis swimmer athlete if i was a woman i’d be a track star runner writer painter gardener doctor nurse yoga mom i'm just scratching the surface and the beat goes on lahdy dah dah
Firefly Oct 2014
The double moon, one on the high back drop of the west, one on the curve of the river face,
The sky moon of fire and the river moon of water, I am taking these home in a basket, hung on an elbow, such a teeny weeny elbow, in my head.
I saw them last night, a cradle moon, two horns of a moon, such an early hopeful moon, such a child’s moon for all young hearts to make a picture of.
The river—I remember this like a picture—the river was the upper twist of a written question mark.
I know now it takes many many years to write a river, a twist of water asking a question.
And white stars moved when the moon moved, and one red star kept burning, and the Big Dipper was almost overhead.
Nat Lipstadt Feb 2014
The Sounding Foam of Primal Things

*(The title and the poem, taken from and inspired by
Carl Sandburg's "Who Am I?")


wind and rain pound the surf.
snow falls on the beach, on the shore.
man-observer cannot tell:
has the earth gone mad, all wet?
do the seas rise, whipped up, filling the heavens,
or does the white rain replenishes the very body,
from whence it came, and now returns?

this matters greatly, yet nothing answers this, his question.

the furious soundings, the green foam churn,
the silence of no response inebriates,
drunk on the tempest's hard wet liquor,
weighed down, sodden with the despair,
solitude, silence, absent answers,
his natural walking companions!

No Stopping signs on almost every corner,
Do Not Pass, Do Not Enter,
One Way, Two Way, No Thru Passage,
but the one sign he seeks,
"Stay On The Path" absent.

Eluded,
dispassionate endings,
the essential quietude among
furious surround-sounds of creative destruction
he ceases to ask, for unanswered, undirected.

Concluded,
either
their is no one listening, or,
there is no one caring, or,

Deluded,
illusion is truth,
he is an illusion.

------------------
Who Am I?
By Carl Sandburg

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
     universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
     reach my hands and play with pebbles of
     destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
     reading "Keep Off."

My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive
     in the universe.
Jodie LindaMae Dec 2013
We writers are insane.
All of us.
We revel in our own sad mess
While picking green grapes
Off the wallpaper,
Smecking away like mad
At the wondrous juices
Of the imaginary, judicial
Forbidden Fruit.

We, like Hemingway,
Take our scotch in the morning
And our gin at night
And try with brutal, lashing effort
To make it through
Everything in-between.

We have put ourselves in shoes
We will never be able to walk in.
We must walk miles as
Linguists, as
Assassins, as
Outsiders, as
victims, as
AIDS sufferers, as
Brutalizers of women.
We must deal with their pain
As if it were housed in our own entity of being.

J.D. Salinger wrote that
His literary son, Holden,
Wore a “people-shooting” hat and
Made it **** clear that he suffered from wild
And erratic fits of overwhelming depression.
Writing from a bunker
Far from his wife, kids and home,
His stories sparked ****** in the hearts
Of already oppressed men
With “people-shooting” hats of their own.
We must toil with language;
Put it in the corner,
Love it, hate it,
Shift it and slave daily with it.
We must lose hours upon hours upon
Days of sleep
Before we find ourselves
Dangerously asleep at the wheel in front of us
In order to make the slightest change in our regular ways.
Even then,
Our handwriting only becomes sloppier
And our words,
Only fiercer.

Kaysen, alone in a psych ward
With women who slept around and
Tried to maul each other,
Wrote diligently
To try to release the the demon
Boiling the very blood inside her veins.
But demons do not disappear easily
And unfortunately,
Neither do the tortuous memories.

Even today,
They attempt to label me
With words of the disturbed.
Anxiety
Floods my synapses and neurons.
Depression
Happily urinates on my serotonin levels.
I bring myself to write
The effigy of the ******
Day by day
As my pen scratches paper
And the doctors expect razor to scratch skin
Though it never has
And never will.

Writers are psychos.
We all are.
We remain the mad, psychotic, literate monsters
Who worm our ways
Into your head.
We nestle beside your dreams and fantasies,
Waiting to strike
And tear them apart or,
If you’re lucky,
Build them up.
A woman writer named Sylvia
Once put her head in the oven
Because the writer-demons were driving her to madness
And they wouldn’t leave her be.

Handling us is a torture
Only the most eloquent and experienced reader
Could enjoy.

Love Always,
Salinger and
Plath and
Kesey and
Vonnegut and
Burgess and
King and
Sandburg and
Snicket and
Hemingway and
Palahniuk and
Kaysen and
Gaimen and
Green and
Trumbo and…

Holtry.
C S Cizek Sep 2014
I'm studying real poets.

Shelley, Sandburg,
Frost, and Wordsworth.
Coleridge, Blake,
and William Butler Yeats.

Do you know why they're
considered real poets?

Because they made art,
not hashtag trends.
Wrote from Experience
with black quill pens.
Sure, they got high,
but wrote on instinct.
And The Road Not Taken doesn't
mean what you think.
They wrote about about life
and the world that they heard,
not ******* in the margins
of Microsoft Word.
This was the first rhyming poem I've written in two years. I thoroughly enjoy tearing into the people whose "poetry" trends just because it's about a boy not loving them back. *******.
Dreams of Sepia Jul 2015
We meet by the lockers
at break
I'm still amazed
that this school
has Cheerleaders
that basketball
not rounders & netball
is the sport played
that we study
the Cold War
' Of Mice & Men'
& the War in Vietnam
that we have 'Hitzenfrei' days
that our German teacher
always forgives our mistakes
that boys & girls
hang out together
that we put on musicals
I've never heard of
That we celebrate the fall of the Wall
that we take school trips
to Concentration Camps
that there's no uniform
that the teachers
rarely explain anything
that the word ' rubber'
doesn't mean ' eraser'
here but something else
that there are stereotypes
like 'nerd' & ' prom queen'
that we welcome grafitti
that we believe in Love
above any kind of Study
that we have the freedom
to pick & choose our failiures
without being sent
to the Principal's office
that we read Kerouac
Carl Sandburg & Ginsberg
that nearly everyone
has lived in at least
two or three
different countries
that we rarely fight
that my crush
plays trumpet
in a ska band
that we go
to the nearby Lakes
on weekends
& the English language cinema
on Tuesdays
that we celebrate Halloween
bit by bit I nearly forget
my All Girls school days
in soggy Britain
where I had no friends
where we sang hymns
every single morning
where we didn't practice
the Love we preached
where our future
was crumbling old Oxbridge
where we had a coat of arms
where we had houses
named after the merchant ships
of our Founder  from the 1600ds
where we didn't dream
of becoming Presidents
or Astronauts but Academics
forever lost in musty books
the flower of our youth, wasted


Hitzenfrei days were days in summer when we were let off school because it was too hot.
Wall - Berlin Wall
Dan Feb 2016
There are railroad tracks
That run through my town
And at night when I finally receive
The silence I wished for during the day
I can hear the faint whistle
And hum against my bedroom windows
I hear the whistle now.

All my life I have heard the trains
And I find beauty in the fact that even when I'm not listening, they are there
The trains carrying coal, chemicals, lumber, and the better parts of my childhood
As a child I loved the idea of the caboose
Allowing any stretch of rail
Any length of land
To be your home
Your bed
And it was probably through this my wanderer spirit grew.

All my life these trains meant something
Escape
But not without possibility of return
I romanticized the long web of rails connecting all the land and Souls in the American night
I have always loved such pieces of antiquity

So in the latter years of my childhood in high school it's no suprise the love I had for Steinbeck, Sandburg, and Woody Guthrie
I would lament to friends that the trains became too fast to hop, but I never tried
I always sat back and watched
Or listened on quiet nights

Now my childhood has passed
I am nearly 20 but wrapped in my head is the idea that the young boy who had train posters and pictures covering his walls was nothing but a stranger or a character in just another awful coming of age rerun
But deep down that child turned to Ginsberg who wrote of boxcars boxcars boxcars
And Kerouac who followed the long stretches of road to the western edge of America
And it was through Kerouac I found
Thomas Wolfe

I feel I have Thomas Wolfe in my bones
Thomas Wolfe who left home rejoicing train rides to the North
Then realized he couldn't go home again
Thomas Wolfe who never wrote a bad train scene
Not all of Wolfe is in me
Not the 1900s Southern prejudice
Or the raving accusing of friends of great treasons, only to have to apologize the morning after
But I can feel his need
To write all I can
To never take away
To add add
To never reduce because who tells Van Gogh "yes yer paintings alright but I need you to reduce the amount of stars by 30 and I expect it on my desk Monday"
I won't take anything away from myself
Only add
So at nights
When I hear the train whistle
And soft rattling on my window
Thomas Wolfe is with me
And he loves the sound too
A look into my childhood and a comparison with my contemporary interests
Joel M Frye Jan 2011
Another poet, reading Sandburg,
claimed the challenge of a poem
is a sense of sound and structure.
Blank verse not verse at all,
but wolfish prose in sheepish clothing -
tennis played without a net.

To me, a net's a barrier;
a woven cage of twine and rope
spread to catch me taking risks. It
keeps me safe, keeps me angry,
feeds to full my fear of falling
graceless, from taut wires of passion.

I come to love the fear and anger.
Days of process, days of progress
unwind cords of prior *******.
Rule by rule, step by step there
comes a danger, comes a freedom -
writing poems without a net.
(c) 1985 Joel M. Frye

— The End —