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the pictures all move in silent circles
forming messy representations of
thoughts, feelings, reality
turning mere images into
real art, like paintings
but it has taken over
everything around me
from a mile up,
peering from a window seat
lights of tokyo beneath us
and we're sat, soaring
amazing, isnt it?
like a looking glass
this little round window
on a way-too-big airplane
Jane Doe Oct 2014
He misses me still, but that's old news.
He's missed me for so long now - he can do it in his sleep.

He does it while he eats alone at his desk,
while he runs for a train,
while the rain is coming down in sheets.
While a girl takes off her dress and he reaches for her,
his hands hesitate a decimal. He turns off the light,
and misses me.

It grows inside his chest, like a bonsai tree -
something natural but stunted.
Snipped and pruned carefully, but not allowed
to grow outside it's box. Not allowed to put down roots.

He hauled it off, across the sea.
Across China and the Middle East, he misses me.

Half a world apart, in Amsterdam I walk
with my eyes to the ground, all brown and grey.
Thinking of the planes and trains that bore him
This has become second nature for me.

It's midnight in Tokyo, he sits at his desk
in the light from the street
thinking of trees, canals, red bricks, me
and when we sleep, he and I both,
it's with ghosts in the sheets.


Who wanted me

to go to Chicago

on January 6th?

I did!

The night before,

20 below zero


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 ***

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 ***,

I’m not walking

the Wabash tonight;

but if you do cover up,

wear layers.


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,


Kansas City,


St. Louis,





New Orleans,






Mexic­o City

and Montreal

salute her.



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.


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 café 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 Valley

all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet

guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.


Midwest from where?

It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,

east of Fairbanks,

west of Dublin

and south of not much.


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.

He 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.


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

countrymens 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


A teacher named Heidi

gives all she has to her students.

She has great expectations for them all.

Heidi believes in the future.


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


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.


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.


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.



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.


an important fossil fuel

denominated in

good ole greenbacks.


not just hogwash

on the Wabash,

but bacon, eggs

and flapjacks

are on the menu

of every diner in Jersey

as the “All American.”


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

***** labor

spin it into

gold lamay.


I think its hardy.


the new age substitute

for hamburger

goes great with tofu lasagna.


ADM creates ethanol,

they want us to drive cleaner cars.


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.



and Istanbul's

best traders

are only half as good

as the average trader in 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,



and estuaries

it’s tentacles reach.


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


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!



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


and how

they mastered

the 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


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,


long underwear,



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,



















and more.

Always more.

Much much more

in Chicago.



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 everyman 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

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


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!


The Loop’s El

still course 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


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


all layers,

on which



is built,



then dies.

To be

returned again

to the lower


where it can

take root


and grow

out onto

the great plains.


the nation,


its people

with its


A blessing,


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!


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,


row houses,


and you’ll hear the Blues.

Tidewater Blues

from Virginia,

Delta Blues

from the lower


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.

**** 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,


for a new start.

Poor and


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



The family

begins to


like a snail

sprinkled with salt;

and a mother

and her children

just disappear

into the pavement

at the corner

of Dearborn,

in Chicago.

You tube music video:

Muddy Waters

I'm Ready

Robert Johnson

Sweet Home Chicago

Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Megan Sherman Oct 15
Dear Friend, it has been long, how do you do?
The season's turn, are lonely for you gone
No doubt you have some tales of Love, of fun
But distance turns my heart from red to blue

Lady, belle, beau babe, you are a light
Of majesty towards which I must fly
For you are dancing in a freer sky
Than that which cloaks me in the darkling night

The devil haunt and topple my sky which
Brilliant, bright with dreams, by tortures crushed
But when with you the memory of him hushed
For you bring Love, for you superior witch

For you I beget sweet and tender psalms
Would regale thee hours long with drams
Let's see the world from Tokyo to Amsterdam

Be forever happy, forever young
At Heart, never such a passion sung
By saints or angels from illustrious tongue
Is it raining in Tokyo
is it sunny in Sydney

I haven't asked
where you are
in a far away country
or a closeby city

don't let me disappear
love me
touch me
I don't want to vanish

wherever you are
I'll wait

there's no forever

stop walking with your head down
the chains wrapped around you
lay you down inside a puddle

I created a place
forever rain

I'm your hero

clouds inside my bedroom

— The End —