Friday, April 30, 2010


for the transplanted poets calling Chicago “home”

I understand, the taste of all that blue collar
makes you want to sing
makes you see yourself
in the heart of the broad-shouldered, meatpacking city
a city of cheap beer and losing baseball teams
and you think
“i can be the voice of this”

the way every Brooklyn newcomer
spits out subways and brick and Coney Island
like they built the place themselves
but I know something you do not.
Your city is a grave

I know the way the fat and jolly polacks
call you “nigger” when your back is turned
I know the way the catholic schoolkids call you “dyke”
you think “i am in the northernmost city of the blues”
you do not hear the talkradio venom
dripping like ballpark mustard
all over your dream of a new and historyless new york

you do not know how many fiefdoms you walk across
a tourist, Disciples and Counts and Kings
White Aryan Resistance,C.A.S.H.
a forest of upside down tridents
and six pointed stars,swastikas
the way Cabrini Green festered
like a rotten tooth, the rats at water tower place
the hollow winter echo of holy name cathedral

your mouth is full of pizza, and Old style
you don't know the way
the streets you walk on end,
in cornfields in shithole towns,
in the hellfire belch of indiana
I-80's ruined artery in a diseased heart

in the south, past the quaint
where they used to make pianos
and bury mobsters, down a gravel road
are the roots I cut, a burned down house
a handful of dead, ashes

you may have them

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