July 2006/Volume Seven/Issue Two
Rae Dachenbach
the city
 
chicago begins when 
the train takes us 
from the suburbs 
or an out of state 
dream 
  
past scrawny life that grows 
too close to old factory 
windows and a barbed 
wire fence and a man  
on his bike that is saving 
gas because his face 
is tired,  
his basket's empty, 
and the cemetary says,  
"yes! we have room"   
and towards the river
union station looms 
and slows over us and 
that is where we get  
off 

into the city that breathes tomorrow   
and tomorrow smells like whisky and           
tastes like marmalade and it sounds
like the collars that walk
down the mile,
turned up against the wind 
and beggars' sympathy, 
mainstreaming fear, lost 
in their own echo  
over cement 
and time 
and ticket-stub 
debates. 

the city counts them and
they count us and we count
shades of gray,
asking if good is good 
or good enough
because hoping for more
is so much worse than failing
at less.

and there is a prophet
on the street corner
and the penny in his cup
says the only secrets anymore
are the promises we keep
from ourselves

and when nothing  
will ever be more  
real than that,  
let us run from this
city too fast  
over rocks with  
fingers blinding eyes  
until stone makes bone  
and blood spits truth.

let us set the smog aflame
to warm the homeless,
feed forgotten babies to starving
empires, and sacrifice god
in the name of religion. 
  
let us call it all a joke  
and run.
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