Chicago Verses




I wanna get drunk

and get into a bar brawl

Then hold the man I beat to pulp in my arms

(and he who beat me down as well,

but I just bested him for I am the better man)

kissing him on the cheek with brotherly love

(bloody noses and all)

we both laughing

to order another round


I could use a friend in the city


In Chicago for business

Trying to get the rhythm of the people

In the rush of the train

I felt like I knew the rhythm in Mannahatta

But I’m off the cadence here

I feel lonely and jostled

In the throngs bound for Union Station

Over the trash strewn girders

Of the Chicago River bridge

I could use a friend in the city


I follow a tall non descript gray suit

To break my way

It’s beginning to rain

Hey Chicago, if I wanted rain, I’d be in Seattle

As the crowds come towards me

I look people in the eyes and smile

I don’t care anymore,

Damn us all for acting,

I’m sick of acting like I’m not looking up,

I am, and you should be as well, have you seen

The Civic Opera or the Sears Tower (I will not call it Willis)

Or the Trade Exchange or the Rookery lately?

Well damn you, you should!

Look! Look!

Look up there and over there,

your head should be on a swivel at the wonders!

All the giants and nudes and masks and

Great god pillars of rough or smooth stone

Looking down upon us swarming rushing faceless

Man, I could use a friend in the city


I meander through the massive library on State St,

Saying hello to security guards and the homeless at tables

One of them says hi back, god bless you brother,

You’re black, I’m white, who gives a good goddamn, we don’t

I walk through the reference books, dating back to the 20s,

I touch the spines and glean the random pages,

Advertising Age, amateur radio, Chemical Abstracts, ect

I walk through the children’s rooms,

 God bless you Harold Washington library

for books published in the 30s with still the paper slip

stamped with the last date of check out

The librarians watch me with averted eyes,

I wave at them and they falter but wave back

In fiction, I ask where to find Ray Bradbury,

The young librarian knows exactly where,

In the back corner of fiction nearest State Street,

And I’ll be damned if he isn’t there,

Two full shelves (is it 3?)

A fire extinguisher in between book rows in glass on the shelf,

a wink to the Fireman?

Here I feel Bradbury’s spirit from Waukegan

Floating an hour from the north,

I could use a friend in the city


I love the women of color in the coffeeshops in Chicago,

I love the color of their speech and color of their skin,

They holler at the usual’s and laugh and scold,

They know how to spell my name when I tell them

It’s Old Testament

I go back to these coffeeshops 4-5 times a day,

I could use a friend in the city


Sitting in a bar at the foot of the L train stairs on Wells Street near Madison,

Horning in on locals conversations

With hockey on the tube

Drinking high life in a bottle

As a pigeon bearing homeless man with a walker peers inside the window,

Forehead pressed to glass

He could use a friend in the city


You see, I have lived too long

Being transient and unfriendly,

Acting uncurious when that is what I really am,

Acting undrunk when that is exactly what I am,

Being bottled up

When I just want to explode with love

You see, I am more my momma’s daddy than I am my dad,

Gregarious and full of shit

I will bend your ear back of you will let me,

I will look you in the eye and laugh at my jokes so you will,

I will hug you rather than shake your hand,

I am more Walt Whitman than Hemingway,

And I aint afraid to say

that I could use a friend in the city




Live with color


Live with color,

Live with blood and flame

With liquor unceasing

With laughter and weeping

With joy unceasing

Live live live


Ray Bradbury at my side


Drinking double gin and tonics on an empty stomach

Out of Styrofoam coffee cups two at a time

Shadow boxing

In the hotel room alone

Getting drunk on double gin and tonics on an empty stomach

Out of Styrofoam coffee cups two at a time

No worries, I’ll walk it off up Madison to the park

In the dark

Only to pass out after

With Ray Bradbury at my side


Rising up forever


I dreamt I walked with you beside me

Or rather,

I dreamt that I dreamt that I walked with you beside me

Through the park down to the Great Lake,

Turning back to look at the great rising city

Somehow knowing you would like the older skyscrapers

More than the sparkling new lit up like the 4th of July

We would climb on the children’s playground,

The scuttled pirate ship and the light house slide

The Great Lake on one side of us stretching into forever

The great city of Chicago on the other side of us,

rising up forever


Chicago Chicago


Chicago Chicago

Smoking suits on phones in revolving door alcoves

From the rain

Near the great lake Miller’s pub

Two beers and breakfast on a plate with the spirit of Harry Carey

Kept company by ghosts

Ducking back to the hotel under the L’s steel girders

I stray to the Rookery and Chicago Board of Trade

Despite the rain

Then back to the hotel touching stone foundations all the way

I drink gin and tonics two by two

Missing my beautiful wife and children

Chicago Chicago

I aint no Carl Sandburg

But I am a very blessed man


Saying goodbye to a friend


In the cab to O Hare

The humid stop and go giving me a headache

Saying goodbye to all the buildings

The drunk poem is over

The sober editing will begin

Hell, I aint no Carl Sandburg

but Chicago,

you are my friend