Photos over, under and around the Loop. Plus literary treats.
Twenty feet above the street
By Stuart Dybek
Workmen in coveralls are painting miles
of kinetic geometry, the electrified back-alley
Silhouetted twenty feet above the street.
Color doesn't matter where light
is the shade of girders sunk in recollection.
(I see el stations and I want them painted black.)
At Monroe, the accordion can't make change.
It's a day for snatches of free music: bells,
sirens, a saxophone echoing the spheres,
industrial-strength percussion from a tribe
of project kids, the techno beat
of sprockets as trains reel overhead
like runaway strips of film. But despite
the public soundtrack for the private movie
of reflections gliding shop windows along Wabash,
the buildings insist on telling their own stories.
For a modest fare, you get to hear
the voice-over of a digital conductor;
you get to see a northbound Ravenswood
releasing pigeons like blackbirds from a
A roller coaster on the straight and narrow
is how you get from here to there
while you further your secret degree
in Daily Ecstasy, eight miles high,
twenty feet above the street.
--- Stuart Dybek is the author of "The Coast of Chicago" and "I Sailed With Magellan."
By Kevin Coval
silence is pending a din
a death rattle caught
in the lungs / a pigeon
orchestra tuning in the cage
of beige bones
shadows box on Wabash / black
and it comes
the roar of drums / ten thousand
marching / a pendulum speeding
through the body / breath's pugilism
the champ's cry rocking iron / thunder
rumbles to a standstill
hawk claws over metal
workers empty train lines
mister charlie don't ride
his office / children / bed linens
clean at the Palmer House
Frank and Philip's barbershop
news stands / proprietor stools
franchised delis / cup clinkers
futures determined here
traded with pork bellies
orange vested surgeons
dance the high wire act
can Metropolitan Correctional inmates hear
economic shifts wheel through window slits
dreams stalk beneath the canopy of tremble
multitudes rush routed in the iron Lasso
the round resumes
and from time to time
amazed this old
fighter won't fall
--Kevin Coval is a regular contributor to Chicago Public Radio's program "848" and will appear on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" Aug. 8.
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