Chicago is the flat prairie lake
wild onion breeze
slow canoe  by
DuSable  Indians and Anglo fools
paths of occasional bloody portage.


Wooden shacks
wooden mud
wooden swamp roads
a fine speck on eastern maps 
where bankers strap gold
on beaver pelts.


A foggy betrayal
eyes crossed 
deeds signed 
in sandy saloons
the  forged history lesson 
a paper chase
through an epic sea


Coal burning
lumber from Michigan woods
neatly stacked by the river
kindling 
for a dry 
October evening.


A bribe
a wink of the eye
a casual palm
greased by stockyard manure
a big shouldered exit
a sooty silhouette
under elevated tracks
where pigeons feast.


In your face city
distant from eastern disdain
laughing bughouse anarchists
billy clubbed again and again
on fast trains toward the gallows.


Swimming backwards
belly up to the gulf
a fishless glide.
A machine
gunned
politicians
dusty Black Sox
running and losing.


Chicago is the whitest of cities
and the darkest
always separate and unequal
streetcar tracks divide the
century-
death by knife
gun or rope
a jazz sunrise on the south side
stumbles into a bootleg
sunset.


A welcome 
to Jim Crow refugees
with shadow freedom 
amongst crowded factories
where streetcars drop passengers
going in different directions
gates locked for the night.


Sky art clouds
conceal masterpieces
without paint or easel
where the avant guarded their literati
in pickle alley.


Casting a long shadow
over beefy faces
tattooed opera and champagne
sipping galleries
masquerade silk kittens.

Postwar flight
without tickets
or directions
coal stained apartments
remain as
construction
drain one by one
mesmerized by  white lawns
and riots.
what remains?


Redirection
resets
rearranges
bloody boundaries
panic peddles through
provincial neighborhoods
who remains?.


Chicago is generations
of lake prairie wetlands
reclaiming empty lots
as children
quietly
walk to school.
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About john raffetto


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JOHN RAFFETTO A lifelong resident of Chicago. Some of his poetry has been published in print and various online magazines. Has been writing poetry for over 30 years. Currently has an online poetry Facebook site Bongo Wilderness Poetry. Holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Northeastern Illinois...read more University. Worked as a horticulturalist and landscape designer for many years at the Chicago Park District. Currently a professor at Triton College.
2 comments
Discussion
  6 days ago
there is a lot of this to like, need to see more John
  1 week ago
Great descriptions! Sandberg would approve!!

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