Monthly Archives: July 2013

Boat on a Lake

I found a faded picture of you
The creases and cracks obscured my view
It was something about that last mistake
I think you were sitting in a boat on the lake

I tried to reach out to touch your smile
You’d been there in my hand for a more than a while
I just don’t know how I made that mistake
I wish we were back in the boat on the lake

But I have something silly to prove
You have your pride and you’re not going to move
Still I wish you could see what I’m trying to find
Or get that last picture out of my mind

I found a battered Polaroid
It wasn’t that much but still it filled in the void
There’s this emptiness that wraps all around me
There’s one more puzzle that somehow confounds me

I found a faded photo of you
The grays and the white blended into a blue
You said there was something you were wanting to take
I think you were sitting in a boat on the lake

But I have something stupid to say
You and your thoughts won’t get in the way
Still I wish you could see what this all means to me
Will you take a minute and set the words free

I threw away my pictures of you
Probably not what you expect me to do
They were just too much for my heart to take
I dropped the pictures from my boat on the lake

I Will Lift You Up

When your heart is finally broken
And the final words are spoken
When you feel you’ve had enough
I will lift you up

When the flames of love have died out
And your tears have all been cried out
When the course is getting tough
I will lift you up

I will put you on my shoulder
Comfort you if you get colder
I will lift you up and bring you home.

Come with me – take my hand
When you need someone to love you
I will lift you up

When the promise loses reason
And your love’s accused of treason
When you’ve finally had enough
I will lift you up

When you’ve been held down for so long
I will sing you one more love song
When the going gets too rough
I will lift you up

I will put you on my shoulder
Comfort you if you get colder
I will lift you up and bring you home.

Come with me – take my hand
When you need someone to love you
I will lift you up

Red is for Christmas

(for James and Lois)

Red is for Christmas and saturated Polaroid pictures
And for clothes we couldn’t wear today without being ironic

Red is for sisters in skirts that show their dimpled knees
And for brothers who look like miniature versions of fathers

Red is for memoires of toys long gone – but dreams still close
And for love – that great provider when comfort is needed

Red is for Christmas and for pictures and for family and for love

The Great Blue Heron

for Kristina (again)
July 24, 2013

My love is like an in-the-park home run on a perfect evening in July
It is sudden and exciting and rare and everyone pretty much stands there – looking surprised

My love is like a Great Blue Heron in a Japanese garden on a perfect afternoon in July
It is rare and grand and graceful and we watch it fly away – but it always comes back

My love is like a perfect day in July in Chicago with a sweet song on the wind off the lake
It is soulful and rare and I promise if you spend the day there – you will never forget it

The Cracker Jack Guy at the Ball Park on a Tuesday in July

(for Kristina)
There is no one lonelier than the Cracker Jack guy at the ball park on a Tuesday in July
He doesn’t have the heart to call it out the way the beer guy does with evangelistic passion
He can’t deliver the overhand fastball-bag of peanuts like the old black lady with plastic visor
He doesn’t get the kids circling him – pointing at the pink clouds offered by the cotton candy guy
He just has a wilted plastic duffle bag full of waxy cardboard boxes of crunchy goodness
(A prize in every box – they say)

No one seems to remember how important Cracker Jack is to the game of baseball
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack is a mandate not an ambiguous statement
If you’re going to take me out to the ball game –you better buy me some Cracker Jack
I don’t want Dipping Dots or Ropes or Vines – or a helmet full of nachos and cheese

No one notices the tired young man trudging up and down the stairs wishing he it was peanuts
Past the optimistic kids with the oversized mitts and the red nosed ballpark vets in faded jerseys
Past the candy-wielding grammas who know how to save a buck and still get the kids sugared up
Past the stat-fan in the retro jersey and the pencil stub working the program – keeping score

Enough Cracker Jack has been sold to stack end-to-end more than 63 times around the earth
And the sad truth is this
There is no one lonelier than the Cracker Jack guy at the ball park on a Tuesday in July

Peace on 51st Street

They’re calling for peace on 51st Street
From the Islamic Circle Center to Family Food and Liquor
Angry eyes shoot arrows at the unfamiliar moving eastbound on 51st Street
Bonila’s Tire Shop glows – a brick and mortar flame against the dying light
The El Shaddai Miracle Center is in need of a miracle and a bottle of Windex
The Universal Grocery has something for everyone under their royal blue awning
But Harold’s Chicken is still the last best hope for a piece on 51st Street these days
Repairer of the Breach is filled with promise but hope for the repairs seem unlikely
People sit on milk crates that support their weight but neglect their dreams
Someone whispered in my ear about peace on 51st Street
I can only hold out hope for Harold and his amazing chicken.

Westbound on North Avenue

There is a crescent moon hanging over Wicker Park
It is like a pregnant tear drop bursting with sadness
The awkward mating rituals continue fueled by alcohol
And by a day too long in the summer sun
North Avenue is quiet for a Friday night
North Avenue is quiet for the only perfect night in memory
These spirits aren’t even from here – but they want to be
That will have to be good enough for them
On this perfect Friday on North Avenue in Wicker Park
Floating past the melancholy crescent moon

I Just Couldn’t

(for Nelson Algren)

The last time I saw Nelson
He was wearing khaki trousers and an old Navy P-Coat
He had a wrinkled cigar in one hand and a silver pocket-watch in the other
One of the lenses in his glasses was cracked

He was getting into an old blue Chevy he had thumbed down in the rain
On North Avenue near Wells Street by the Wagon Wheel
He looked over his shoulder and half-waved good bye
I just kind of stood there and rocked on my feet
I sort of watched the Chevy pulled away

I turned to walk home that’s when I saw the copper flash
Lincoln looking up from the curb but I just couldn’t pick it up
I just couldn’t pick it up

Old Town: Today

Still trying to figure out why Old Town still smells of piss and Fritos
The whites with the greens tried to erase the blacks
But they couldn’t eradicate the smell of piss and Fritos
This isn’t Bucktown – where the smell is more integral to the scene
This is Old Town which hardly seems as old today as it once was
Everything relevant that once made this neighborhood sing is gone
Everything relevant has been replaced by shitty bars and golden arches

When we were kids our parents would take us to visit this exotic land
People – unlike our neighbors – strutted about like dirty peacocks
People – unlike our neighbors – crept into the littered alleys at dusk
Back then – none of us noticed the smell of piss and Fritos as much
We were kids – we were visual – we were amazed
Now a couple generations and everything amazing removed
I have to wonder why old Town still smells like piss and Fritos.