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Brandon Brazel May 2015
If the label on a bottle of poison were more pretty,
More people would choose it over the **** antidote.
This is a problem we face,
When the vision is blurry.
I can't stand when others say "you don't look like a regular person" as if there is a way we are entitled to look. We are our own selves.
<Insert Poem Here>

<Insert Silent Sympathies Here>

<Insert Spiraling Tenancies Here>
   (Wait...No. Not that.)
<Delete Line>

<Insert Self Doubt Here>

<Insert Friends Here>
   [File Not Found]
::Comment:: What about me?

<Insert Apology Here>

<Insert Regret Here>

<Insert Pain Here>

<Insert Poem Here>


<RvL>
Eleni Jul 2017
'Are you pleasing those Lions?'

She thinks to herself under Nelson's Column.

'I am no hero of the Nile, nor of Trafalgar. I am an empty vessel.'

City of Angels, yet full of devils. Will she find the exit from Oblivion, in those molten, vermillion revels?

'And will you climb that stairway to heaven? Is it true that what glitters is gold?'

That golden dust, which lies on her beside table, sedative for her sorrows.

'Oh he was a foul coxcomb. England expects every heart will follow its duty!'

She is followed, by those feral eyes;
Those on the underground, those in the streets

And those who she will wish
her eyes will never meet.
This short poem was partially inspired by one of my favourite songs from The Doors called 'Hyacinth House' whereby Jim Morrison expresses loneliness and the nature of being judged by others based on careers, personalities and relationships. I combined this with the strong presence of the lions in Trafalgar Square in London, which have a intimidating appearance and represent the strength of the British Empire. These eyes of judgement seem to pierce through the speaker in this poem who is being criticised by the personified statues for being unworthy of recognition.
Bob B Sep 2018
A female tennis player might give
An umpire a piece of her mind
When she disagrees with him.
Consequently, she is fined

Or penalized in other ways.
However, if the player's a male,
He can spit, destroy his racket,
Yell, and viciously assail

The umpire at a tournament.
He could even resort to calling
The ump an "abortion," and little or nothing
Happens to him. Now THAT'S appalling!

A candid man might be considered
"Direct" or "outspoken." Isn't that rich?
But if you are an assertive women,
You are basically called a "*****."

A man who loudly demonstrates
At a Senate hearing in an angry fashion
Could be considered "aggressive" or even
Be called a man of "impetuous passion."

A woman, however, who interrupts
A Senate hearing with passion hears
Herself being called "hysterical" when
She's led away to Senators' sneers.

Sexism? Discrimination?
Inequality? Status quo?
It certainly appears that way.
The double standard has got to go!

-by Bob B (9-11-18)
Onoma Nov 2018
an electric blue forehead

wears a rusty-gold garland

of leaves.

age old in the youth of heaven...

no nearer to November than

this window to that sky.

or wisdom to that dye.

yet the view's pulled inward,

and the circle implodes.

only to marry the rim of a

brighter sun...scattering the

curiosities of leaves and birds.

glory's the tallest order, firmly

foundationless--with no height to

be taken by a season's standard.

fall on Fall...endear the bare to the

naked eye.
zebra Aug 2018
The new # 69 hoochi coochi smoochi
rubberized *** robot ****** sucker model 2.0
now available

*******
feelin lonely
tired of spats
credit cards charged up from dates that don't put out
don't like the same restaurants
not ***** to your taste
cant stand the in-laws
you wana live costal, they like Kansas
or
tired of internet dating
and no time for a quickie

when the one you love tells you they aren't in the mood

well bunky
its a brave new world
take a spin in our new model
robot 69, 2.0
they talk
they walk
warm all ova inside and out
scented oiled perfumed *** optional
and flavored
to include
chocolate crunch, vanilla, strawberry
and
phooey
replete with an array of assorted interchangeable
*****, *****'s and butts
extra sturdy for ware and tear
and those little irresistible spankies and whoopins
you just cant live without
plus any colors, or rainbow rubber chasse
*** straight or mix it up how eva
trans trans gender

buy out right
or rent ala cart
deluxe or standard
voice activated

advanced multi lingual
baby talk and hits the high notes
talks back software program
and
NO always means YES
plus
screams
cu cu cu cu cu cummmmming
cooes I love you
**** me now *****
shred me you ****** ******
and many others
in over 50 languages

Other optional features include

age play
ethnic fetish
banjee
blow jobs
tipping the velvet
**** to mouth
salad tossing
*******
spit roast
bare back
chicken head
death grip
*******
mammary *******
*******
Netflix and chill
*******
*******
brown bath
cream pie
*******
motor boating

and the shocker  
two in the pink and one in the stink
adult ***
As a little girl she always knew
That she lacked something special
Her own mother reminded her constantly
And the lass is now a grown woman

Adult experiences confirmed what was true
That she was just ordinary and dull
A woman with no it factor
Invisible to all before and around her

She's heard and hears stories of other women
Who use their wiles on hungry men
'If only I had that gift I'd feed a hundred of them'
Instead she's bypassed like she's not even there

Old age is catching up to her now
She may as well be thin air
The only ones who see her are other women
But never the men she dreams of

Ordinary is boring and typical
Nothing exciting about this creature
She might as well be dead and buried
Along with any hopes of truly being seen
i dragged the blade across my skin
and bled the pain away
the curse that flowed around within
no longer had to stay

i huffed and could no longer feel
if i was still alive
and asked for beatings hard and real
to help me then revive

my face had blackened here and there
i morphed into one dead
i had no time to eat my hair
had left my waning head

in time i withered like a leaf
as autumn did arrive
and knew just by the weight of grief
my corpse was still alive

but one day as i sat in bed
and found an empty pad
i wrote the tale of my life's dread
the mourning of the sad

i cut the forms of letters there
the pen unstopped had bled
the curse into the morning air
and i would live instead

(C)2019, Christos Rigakos
King Panda Aug 2017
your hair appears darker
when wet.
black, corded,
thick as puzzlegrass.
a companion in contrast
to frosted
cupcake blue eyes and
incense burning
in the ashtray.

memories thrown
in the laundry pile
with the wet towel
swirling upon
your head.
your smile
bitter as asparagus,
staining my *****
for the next two days.
your frame
soft and slender
as balsa wood.

I’d eat your air
freshly oxygenated
and bend you into
an arc.
the waves would split
on your bow
and shower my face
wet
dark
corded
thick as puzzlegrass.
then
from your finger
the standard of a
dove leaving
olive branch in
mouth
into the frosted
cupcake blue
sky.

a miracle in
the eye of the
waning storm.
the down keeps me up
needing to crash but thoughts beckon
i know i must pay tomorrow
full moon tonight
what’s your excuse?
if you’re a woman don’t misconstrue
i’m not a  misogynist
true misogyny neccitates great admiration
full moon tonight
what’s your excuse?
i don’t care tonight
gonna stay awake till collapse
i dreamed Apple traded
$99.00 monday morning and i bought it
i’m not your type
not your type not your type
i read Flaubert, Zola, Nabokov
i know it’s hard to see
i imagine angels
what do you like in your cup of tea?
while taking care of neighbor’s cat Oskar
decided to replace porch standard white with green light bulb
i hope they like it
they’re burners
they’ll be gone for two weeks
JV Beaupre May 2016
The Standard Model is full of sticky, quirky Quarks,
perky little Fermions, and the Boson Higgs,
the reigning King of Mass of towering might;
who, by spontaneously falling off in any old direction,
gives ad hoc Masses to nearly all, and to all a birthright.

And for all normal matter in creation,
the Boson Higgs is the physicist's salvation.
Alas, we could have learned more,
but a Weasel ate through the Collider core.
Commentary on the Standard Model of Particle Physics.
Commemorates the 2015 shutdown due to animal intrusion.
D Awanis Apr 2017
We were born in different shapes, colors, and size
Not a single embryo was able to decide their DNA or blood type
But that shouldn't make us less humans than the others
It's the diversity that makes us exquisite and beautiful

Break down the stereotype that beauty is fair skin,
that beauty is a skinny and blonde-haired lady
that beauty is wearing clothes with branded labels
that beauty is applying tons of foundation and mascara

Who are we to determine the standard of beauty, anyway?
While each of us is God's creativity,
authentically made by His hands

Who are we to judge God's taste in art, anyway?
While each of us is uniquely magnificent,
as His creations are never less than a masterpiece

Keep in mind that the real beauty lies within ourselves,
beneath our skin, between our thoughts, and inside our soul
Embrace your inner beauty
karin naude Feb 2014
my 3rd vice
my catalyst for food restriction
desperate to sooth my shattered self image
daily bombarded by airbrushed perfect female beauty
braking my image of beauty and showing my cellulite
followed by overloading information about fixing me
regular exercise, beauty routines and Cal restricted diets
insecurity the new female epidemic
we fight for women's rights
and threw the baby out with the bath water
a basic human need
unmet and exploited
our legacy
the English standard
geneticly out of reach for women of color
Mr Quiet Nov 2018
"No one will accept you."
Said my conscience to myself.
So what's the point of not being alone?
When no one's there to say you're not going to hell.

And you define my identity as a tragedy,
You don't want my truth so you just deny.
So for once in your ignorant life,
Please have an open mind.

And if you decide to stop your fight,
Maybe we can settle this conflict,
And have a good time.

"You're just confused, you're too young for this."
Yet you expect me to give chocolates to a girl,
And give her a kiss.
Double standard at it's best,
Just accept me as myself.
Don't think I'm perplexed,
I know who I am and you can't change who I am and tell me to be someone else.

You say you worship Him,
You say that He is LOVE.
You say He washed my sins,
Stop acting like I'm a criminal.
Stop saying that we'll go to hell,
You're like the Pharisees.
You spread the opposite of what He tells,
Hypocrites,
You homophobic, extremist wannabes.

And I'm a Christian kid,
I believe in Him,
And if you think He hates me for my sins,
Then go ahead,
Let's settle this.

Let me believe,
That He still wants me.
And let me see,
From your actions,
He still wants me.
The "You" stands for every homophobic people i know
karin naude Jun 2013
we all collect pain, desire, love, wounds, questions ect
it makes us unique, insane and human
our every action dictated by our subconscious
constantly reminding the awake mind, you don't rule
i realized today how me, my collection is
most women collect wedding and baby pics
i collect mommy and me moments
something i long for so deep its indescribable
unconditional protection
always knowing "i" got backup
unconditional love
no matter how messed up "i' get
she keep the lights on, so that i can find home
unconditional existence
no matter what i will always be here for you
always real and true in action and presence
always real no double standard

i stopped taking my anti-depression medicine
it allowed me to live life with muffled screams
never giving outlet to my wordless emotions
so raw, i lack the vocabulary to express
so raw, i don't recognize it
so raw, i struggle each day to keep it together
False Poets Jan 2018
readily acknowledge our highest standard of luna loving madness

we treat our luna connection with equality -
great affection as well as sensible trepidation,
for its transgender nature, though well disguised,
is but surficial,  that we all ken, when compared to
***** bewitching covens who in the forest deepest dens,
exclaim their aroused allegiance over and over and over again

but so so many lunatics lurking in the poetic coven, who knew!

do not ask all the luna~ticced poets to step forward,
unless you wish to crash the internet's servers whom I'm told,
who too, are silent secret devotees

who  among us has not scribed truth and lies, when standing outside, greeting the divine presence
flowing rivers simulate the virtual reality of love
warriors topple over forgotten
like cartons of used milk
silk worms speak sovereign messages and warn us of our fate
are we ill or are we healthy
stealthily imprisoned by our visions
finish the sentences and sever your attachments
respecting tradition leads to detachment
a semblance of serenity
the giver of the dawn used shards of standard force
hover in the mind’s sky
houses pass you by
in finite allegories
gardens blossom
governing movies and seating our jobless
go outside now
remove the shades from your eyes
breathe in soma and drink from the sky
sightless sorrow forges on towards tomorrow
art is a balancing act
she came out of her shell in order to tell you a story
of garlands of silver and gold
woven finely into ribbons
greased with oil from a rare toad
Hannah Sep 2017
Entry ~
You were the first man that ever broke my heart. It was the day I was born. You held me in your arms and made me a promise that would rip us both apart. You promised to love me unconditionally from the start. But time passed and over the years those words faded from your heart. In the presence of a war when you had one foot out the door. There are vacancies in my memories where a father should have played a part. Like teaching me to drive a car, or telling me don't believe boys that say I love you from the start. Instead, I looked at every boy with tears in my eyes and willingly accepted every single lie, thinking maybe if I part my thighs they'll learn to love how broken I am inside, but they never do. Just like you they leave without a single clue and I'm left alone, used, wishing my daddy would have loved me too. And I'm not writing this to blame you, or break you, or tell you I hate you. I've made mistakes too. Ones deeply rooted in my relationship with you. And I get that maybe you didn't have a clue that your daughter was struggling in the world without you. But I relied on you to set the standard for boys I would let into my heart. By the time I was sixteen, I felt like a tortured piece of art. I learned to love myself of course. Over the years of ripping myself apart I learned to chart the darkness in my own heart. I don't blame you anymore for my broken parts. I'm healed from being angry at you. I'm writing this to tell you I'm sorry for failing you, and I'm sorry you failed me too.
The apple never does fall too far from the tree.
**
absinthe Jul 2018
sat next to the man with two phones
i asked him to hold my hand
and he laughed  

sitting in his ‘96 civic
for three hours we fell asleep
till six since three

he’s one of the many men
whose substance
far from the moral field
leaves many men with little substance
and you and me victims
of victims of you and me

he’s the type who feeds fiends
and he’ll keep making a killing
off children we perceive
as grown men and women
living to **** themselves
it’s how he makes a living

don’t him you belittle
for you are no different  

i know the thought makes you livid
you wish he was lined up and shot with the likes of him
but your white lies are their white lines
and the front lines in his line of business
so you would lie alongside and
wrong right
where you were digging

as far as i’m concerned
he’s not a man without substance
and one of much substance
one of few and far between
and certainly could you defeat

because while you let savages ravage me
he held my hand for free
and never demanded their standard fee
of an arm  
and a leg
and everything in between

.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
By any normally accepted standard
three words are scarcely sufficient
to be considered a poem.
The Japanese, who have a gift for conciseness,
might be sympathetic.
(Haiku, after all,
    at seventeen syllables,
       are pretty compact.)
But three words! It's not so much concise as,
to put it bluntly, short.
If I say that, when I try to write a poem for you,
"I love you" is all I can think of,
that is no excuse.
And the fact that my meaning is new and unique
(for me and for you)
makes no difference either.
If only there were some way out of my difficulty.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
There, that's nine words.
Will that do?
Written in 1984 and only just re-discovered in the booklet of the competition it was written for.
Micro manage
Call me standard
But i cant stand to stand
Cant stand to sit
Im overjoyed and poised
In all the wrong ways
Its constant disarray
These days were prone to fainting
And waiting around
For something that helps us feel "in place"
Guess it back to basics
Matterhorn Feb 1
I wonder,
Do you hold others
To the same exacting standard
As your razor-sharp bangs?
Is that why I've never
Heard your voice?
Why I've never seen your mouth
Form any other expression than that
Pretty, perfect grimace?
"You have beautiful eyes,"
I want to say;
But they remain downcast,
Accentuating your general
Aura of discomfort.
© Ethan M. Pfahning 2019
Robert G Page Dec 2015
A Christmas Thought (short story)
by
rgpage

This time of the year,  when once giving from the heart has since melted like the snow in Spring to the meaningless demand for expensive toys and gadgets;  and Santa has waned to no more than the all-giving sugar daddy to each and every child,  and a tireless crutch to the mindless parent during the year; “Santa’s watching so you’d better be good.”

And alas,  there I stood in this huge department store amid a vast forest of toys, colors, and noises, fallen prey to this modern day hypocrisy known as Christmas.  Being of a lower middle economical standard,  and having with such stealth blindness juggled expenses and bills to afford myself the opportunity to plunge even deeper into dept.  I pondered these playful wonders of modern day technology.  All about countless numbers of people were doing as I in efforts to reward their children for their year of good service.

This was when I saw her. As fast as this seasonal frenzy had overtaken me just days earlier,  it vanished for a time as I watched her. It must have been that she seemed so out of place in this hurry-scurry festive scene of Christmas shopping that she caught my eye.  She was very old and her tattered,  worn out clothing all too obviously reflected the fact that she couldn’t afford much.  While others struggled about her almost comically laden with brightly colored  packages, this old woman had nothing more than an old purse dangling from her arm.  Slowly she moved, seemingly pained with the infirmities which accompany old age.  She appeared overweight for her stature which I’m sure added to her discomfort.  When she stopped in front of the doll section  her old, pudgy face glowed with joy.  Undoubtedly a doll for a little granddaughter,  I was  sure no more as she couldn’t possibly afford more.  I watched as she studied each doll
and its price tag,  going from one to the next.  Finally she stopped to give particular attention to one little doll adorned with colorful ribbons and big bright blue eyes.  Then putting the doll back,  she opened her purse and I watched as she counted the small amount of money that she had.  

By this time I had become so unexplainably absorbed with watching the old woman,  who with a smile closed her purse, retrieved the doll and walked slowly and painfully to the checkout counter to wait in line.  Around her the noise of parents and children alike waiting their turn to check out didn’t seem to bother her as she patiently waited, holding the precious little doll for an equally precious granddaughter.  Finally when her turn came, an all to cruel yet human trait appeared in not only the people waiting behind her but the checkout clerk as well. Their impatience to maintain a steady flow of human traffic through the turnstiles came to the forefront almost obliterating this seasonal spirit.  This didn’t seem to deter the old woman from slowly and surely counting out the correct change,  leaving her very little to return to her purse.

With this done and the doll tucked away in a shopping sack,  she proceeded through the large glass doors and out into the cold December night.  A passing thought, “one special gift for one special person,” went through my mind as I continued my own, now more selective tour of annual duty.  Looking over my shoulder for one last glimpse of the old woman, I suddenly felt as if struck by a jolt of electricity as I saw her on her back in the slushy snow, struggling like an over-turned turtle.

Bolting out the door hoping to be the first to reach her,  I almost found myself lying next to her on the slick sidewalk.  Nothing was said as I struggled to lift her up.  Once this was accomplished I asked her if she was alright.  Instead of answering  she started looking around for her package.  I spotted the torn, soaked paper sack some ten feet away in a slushy puddle and went to retrieve it.  The doll had come half way out of the sack and her little blonde curls were now filled with water and slush; and as I handed it back I searched the old woman’s face for even a trace of sadness, there was none. Instead she looked at me smiled and said, “thank you young man, it’ll dry out, it’ll be alright, Merry Christmas.”  Then holding the doll in both hands, she turned and went on her way, much slower and much more cautiously.  I just stood there and watched her until she finally disappeared in the crowd and darkness and thought to myself, “maybe Santa Claus isn’t a man after all.”
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
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