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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

OH CHICAGO! Suite White City

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Suite White City,
May 2011, Rewrite

Chicago, I see you,
Though to be there, I must recover scenes,
Which now are very long ago, and what I share, here,
May be more dream, fiction, than actual historical event.

My life enfolds in pictures,
And revelry takes me from present-day circumstance,
The computer's screen and the key pad, to,
To lake-front parking, a lover’s lane,
Way down at east end of Foster Avenue,
At the time, I date the mother of my future son,
(It was early evening)
That woman with me is to become my first,
My one, my only wife, though
From her today I count over two decades, divorced.

We heard a galloping, thrashing noise,
And when we looked over the dashboard
And out the windshield, we saw
A man, he came from within the bushes,
A stranger, his demeanor was wild
And mayhem seemed his intent.
Clenched by two fists,
He held a great length of metal rod, a gaffing hook,
Then, from a big, an over-the-shoulder swing, bang!
He punctured the hood on my Dad’s white Chevrolet,
Which was a brand-new,1960, four-door, hard-top.

We survived the attack,
Intact, secure behind the doors and car in reverse,
We were lucky, I guess.


I remember the time in the high rise, near North Side,
Up on the 18th floor, where my buddy and I,
We knew this cop, yes, she was fine.
Oh my, Chicago, I remember her, the fond delight!
I liked the way she let her 9MM sleep with us.
(She placed it under the pillow.)
And her blues, her uniform with its badges,
And her leather belt and boots, whether she wore them,
Or when they were thrown, scattered and heaped.
A pile of clothes and accessories,
Her lengerie accented the top of the jumble;
I need not close my eyes to picture it.

The ensemble looked good at the bottom of the bed,

Piled-up on the rug of the bedroom floor.

Later, in the back seat of a Chicago,
Blue and white police cruiser,
I joined the convergence, while she drove,
And her partner sat shotgun, chasing the culprit,
All sirens and beacons blazing,
Down the back alleys, behind the bungalows, fast, 30mph,
Galvanized cans crashing, their lids off,
Flying, like saucers,
Garbage was everywhere all over the concrete.


River View, the amusement park, sat down the block
From my first high school, its Ferris Wheel dominated
That side of the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Readers, please, excuse the free thinking.
I leap here and hope to attain an insight and meaning,
Back to the time in 1893,
The year my great grandfather, John,
Came the one hundred miles from La Salle, Illinois,
To Chicago, he wanted to see the lights, the World's Fair,
The white city, magic, and when he returned, home,
He told tales about the town on Lake Michigan,
How great its marvels twenty-years after the Fire.

He, my great grandfather, he returned home
To the dark of the Illinois Valley, to gas-lit streets,
And when he told the family about alternating current,
The city ablaze in the middle of the night,
He ignited in my grandmother lust, she wanted a part,
She sought the grandeur; She was no longer happy at home,
What darkness, the narrow, a woman’s common lot,
The drudgery of hand laundry, the knowledge that,
As she often had openly lamented,
“Yes, I was born too soon.”

No easy task, ironing the household’s attire
With an implement heated atop a wood-fired stove,
Early to bed, early to arise, the great bore,
Small town life, it was said she would bed the devil
-- And many claimed she had -- she wanted out, escape.
She married my grandfather, an itinerant painter,
Who went from town to town painting church murals.

And following the grand cliche,
Grandpa drank his liquor as others might milk from a jar.
And he added to his cocktail’s already heady mix,
The family’s romance says, he had bad habit,
He moistened the stylist between his lips;
And we know, the paint those days had lead for its base.

Her husband, my grandfather promised my grandmother
Life, incandescent, excitement, magic,
And the possibility of dreams come true,
Right there on the flat lands off the shore of the Lake.
Remember, the new town rose up from the old,
Up from the ashes, why, it was a resurrection!

Please, was there not real truth to the story of the Whites,

Had they not been rescued? Was it not a miracle?
They had escaped from the massacre at Fort Dearborn.

My grandmother sought energy, electric, the moment,
She wanted a big-time story, no small-town idyll.
She desired city burning, burning bright, resplendent.

Oh Chicago! It is from you that I have my life!

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