Monthly Archives: February 2013

This is Where Love Lives

The aroma of bread baking in the oven
The tear welling up in the corner of the baby’s eye
The old men singing perfectly in four-part harmony
This is where love lives.

The ancient grey Sox hat wilted with wear
The unlabeled bottle olive oil from the flea market
The cracked and faded Christmas card in the dusty box
This is where love lives

The broken zipper on your favorite coat
The renegade ringlet that tickles your left ear
The crescent moon red wine stain on the white linen
This is where love lives

The long, stray eyelash stuck to your glasses
The burnt lonely sesame seed under the coffee maker
The lonely rivulet of water in the steam on the kitchen window
This is where love lives

This is a song to our city

We have come here to reclaim our city
Not from urban decay
But for what is left of the American dream
A dream that featured Daley’s highways
And streets that cross the muddy river
And the crooked cabbies and politicians
And the ghosts of Haymarket Square

We are reclaiming our city’s character
The facets of the jewel that adorn her crown
Her dazzling architecture
Her majestic churches
Her splendid lakeshore
Her seductive skyline

This is a song to our city
This is a song to the lady we love

She rises above her own critical past
To lead her children into a vibrant future
A future well aware of and shaped by the past
By the wit of Dreiser
By the wisdom of Sandburg
By the righteous indignation of Algren
By the vision of Burnham

She displays her peerless strength and beauty
In the corners of her crooked smile
A smile dividing her magnificent face
Forged by the heart of Cermak
In the soul of McCormick
In the mind of Mamet
On the back of DuSable

We have come here today
To turn our strong shoulders
Away from the faceless voices
That betrayed Randolph Street
That abducted Chicago Stadium
That stripped Madison Street
That destroyed Maxwell Street

This is a song to the borders that are drawn
Because the melting pot didn’t quite melt together

The borders that keep the Chinese at Wentworth and Cermak
The borders that keep the Greeks on Halsted
The borders that keep the Italian on Taylor Street
The borders that keep the Swedish up in Andersonville

We have united here today to remember
To pay tribute with our blood
To offer hope with our sweat
To offer life with our souls

We have come here today
To retrace what course we have left
What roads might still be open to us
Roads that will lead us back into the heart
Of the woman for which we sing

He Loves to Hear You Sing

He’s been asking for you
But no one was able to find you
We searched in all of the usual places
But they said you weren’t there
He says that he needs a pack of Camels
Maybe a Schlitz Malt Liquor tall boy
He said he wants you boys to sing for him
Maybe San Antonio Rose
No Wildwood Flowers – definitely Wildwood Flowers
And sing it loud boys
He wants to hear it loud
Because he loves to hear you sing
Boy does he love to hear you sing

Two Torpedo Sandwiches and Jackie DeShannon

We used to go for these long drives
My father and I
No destination – just long drives to nowhere
He spoke endlessly of his youth
I listened to each sliver of breath
Pink nosed cows in pastures fluttered by
The window of his large silver Chevy
We would always find a bar in a small town
A bar that served Torpedo sandwiches on crusty white rolls
And he would give me a quarter for the juke
Jackie DeShannon
What the world needs now
I played that old song on every juke I found

At the Seneca Restaurant – at Christmas lunch
My grandmother almost stopped giving me quarters
She knew what song I was going to play

But with my father it was always the same thing
Two Torpedo sandwiches; one beer and one coke
And he always gave me a quarter for the juke
And I played that old song – every time

What the world needs now is two torpedo sandwiches
And Jackie DeShannon and my father and an old Chevy

Every Time She Saw It

for Ami

My sister used to love to tell me
About the way my eyes looked when I was in love
She said she could see it from a passing car
She said I couldn’t fake it – I couldn’t force it
And she could always see it
If I was in love only for a moment
Or if I was in love for a million years
She could see it in my eyes
And she’s the only one who believed it every time she saw it

It’s Almost 2 a.m.

It’s almost 2 a.m.
The dog is in bed with me
She is hogging all of the blankets
You never hogged the blankets
What the fuck happened to us
Now you are changing your phone number
Now I’m losing sleep

I’m laying here wondering
If you have erased the orgasm tote board
I am looking up at your big pink sign
And wondering if it was ever real
Was our time together some fucking cosmic joke
What the fuck happened to us

I’ve got to erase all of the videotapes
Because I can’t look at you anymore
Without scratching my head and wondering
What the fuck happened to us

For a Short Time

I only plan to be here for a short time – for just a little while
While I’m here I want to touch you – touch your life
I want to tell you things that no one knows – or will ever know

I want to know you

I want you to touch me – touch my life
I want you show me things that no one knows – or will ever know

When I’m gone – when there’s nothing left here but these words

I want you to remember me

I want you to remember how I touched you
And remember how you touched me

Leaving Lookout Mountain

There was a single star in the Tennessee sky
We followed it north to Nashville
And then on toward Bowling Green
Before we moved on homeward – Chicago
Still my heart is winding around that scenic route
Flying off of Missionary Ridge
And bouncing back toward lookout mountain
Like the union soldiers did 100 years before my birth

I am charging up the side of that mountain
And like a good confederate soldiers
I leave a part of myself up on that mountain

Now I search the autumn Chicago sky
To find that lone Tennessee star
If only to let her know
That I have not forgotten her
And that I will be back to see her
As soon as I possibly can

Thinking of You

The first cold burst froze the sweat on my brow
as I stepped out – leather squeaking – snow crunching
somewhere a dog in a yard barked at nothing
a siren whistled past the front of the house
I thought of you for a moment

I saw you in that black sweater
The one with the pearls on the front
You were wearing that black felt skirt
And your shiny Paul Simon shoes

I took a step
Looking down
I took one more step

Night Falls; Bringing With it the Darkness

Night falls hard around my shoulders
Like a yolk I am forced to wear
It crushes the miniature bones
In my fragile, twisting spine

The darkness limits my vision
Putting my precarious journey in peril
I would try to smile for you
But you might know me by my pointed teeth
And the blood on my tongue