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Sep 27, 2007

September 27th, 2007

A thunderstorm passes
through the city.

The rich soil of the fields
is no longer the color
of dried blood,
but a deep brown,
earth ripe for the seasoning.

The street in front
of the elderly man's house
is washed clean of blood,
as is his front lawn.

The heavens
weep at his plight.

September 27th, 2007

Still no leads this morning. The elderly man who was shot yesterday lay critically wounded in the hospital; he is the detectives' only witness, but as of yet unable to be interviewed.

I stared into my cup of coffee during a morning cigarette, watched my dark reflection wobble in waves, hand trembling.

Across the street, the farmer has reaped this year's crop, has plowed the soil in preparation for another great sowing. The rich underbelly of the earth is a deep brown, the color of dried blood. This all signals another changing of seasons, one rung on the ladder in the great, churning cycle. This natural cycle.

What does a bullet lodged into the abdomen of a defenseless elderly man signal? What sort of storm brews upon the horizon? Should I not be angry? Am I too pampered, living here in my small city, shielded from violence for so long, that these recent acts have me greatly distressed? There is nothing natural about murder, the progression of violence; there is nothing natural about birds on wires rising from the roosts when the morning silence is shattered by a gunshot.

Sep 26, 2007

September 26th, 2007

The morning silence was broken around 7AM, just before my alarm roused me from sleep. An elderly man, a vendor at the local farmer's market, was shot while loading flowers into his van. I transposed in my mind the images of a bullet and of a white rose. Within each one's domain there is no room for the other.

The incident took place about a seventh of a mile straight down the street I live on. Having grown up in this city my whole life, I know that there have only been a handful of times where guns were used in violence (other than suicides), maybe just four or five. What troubles me the most is that four of them have happened in the last three years, three of them happening in the last year.

There is a disease, runs rampant across the parched earth; one so persistent, strong, and blind, that even these harvested fields that I stare at now are no longer out of reach. There will be a time, soon enough, where there is nothing left to be held sacred. My hope is at that time I will have long since returned to dust, the earth having reclaimed one of its sons.

Sep 19, 2007

Tuesday at Fitzgerald's

Fitzgerald's is a beautiful, old club; rich, dark wood everywhere: the walls, the stools, the bar, the window frames, everything. Many people have been to Fitzgerald's without even realizing it: Parts of the films Blink and A League of Their Own were filmed there.

It is located on Roosevelt about a mile outside the city limits of Chicago, about a mile away from where the neighborhoods begin the deteriorate, and the crime increases. I circled the club once, unable to find the entrance, and found myself walking down a dark alley lined with rotting garbage. Three men watched me enter the alley from across the street.

After finding the entrance, I learned that Fitzgerald's was actually comprised by two buildings. The band Euforquestra would be playing in the larger hall, and in the small bar housed in the building not even twenty feet across the lot, an open mic night was about to begin. Lots of people were arriving, and it was early.

In the larger hall, the parents of one of the members of Euforquestra, and their friends, were opening up with a folk set; a nice four piece: two guitars, a mandolin, and an upright bass. Afterwards, mom, dad, the son from Eufor, and three of his brothers played a string set in the tradition of the old south. There was a dobro. Three bands for the price of one. I figured then I'd dropped two dollars on each act, and was thoroughly satisfied.

I'm not even going to try to describe Euforquestra. All night long I swayed and bounced to the reggae, to the funk, to the Afro-cuban beats. They even chanted and sang in an Afro-cuban dialect, these white boys who came together in the middle of Iowa. And it was real. I knew as I was sitting there, that it was real, that this is what's happening, what's good. And it was a Tuesday.

Somewhere near the last song, a woman approached and asked if I'd like to dance. I took her hand, telling her that I don't dance, I make the music. We danced. No. She danced. I tried to follow her lead, clumsy as a toddler. She was cute, had a nice smile. Her name was Vanessa. We parted after the song ended, and shortly after she left with her friend.

Despite all of the pitfalls of the city, and the five dollar beers, and the six dollar cigarettes, I knew then I could get used to Tuesdays like this.

Sep 18, 2007

Semptember 19th, 2007

Going to see a show tonight, one-hundred and fifty miles from home; going to see the music make the room glow.

This morning the sun tore at my eyeballs. Excruciatingly bright, and warm, and appreciated. A slight breeze kissed my cheek on the walk from the hotel to the car. And the roads this morning here in Illinois, one-hundred and fifty miles from home, surprisingly open.

Yet, this area is much different than back home. The suburbs of Chicago seem overpopulated, but houses don't often litter the area; just commerce, places to throw the dollar down. Restaurants, shopping centers, some sort of service offered every block, every corner. Lots of fluorescent bulbs, traffic lights, streaks of rubber on the pavement. The smell of diesel fuel. Plume upon plume of smoke from eighteen-wheelers shoot up out of the exhaust pipe, floating up into the air like a thick swarm of gnats.

Impossible to walk anywhere. There are no sidewalks here. There is no life in place that will allow such a slow movement. If you want fitness, you go to Bally's. You go to some huge building that houses an indoor sports zone. The land is meant to be traveled, not learned, not felt. And it saddens me. It makes me long for home, for nights swimming in blackness, the deafening shriek of crickets. Here, the crickets are quiet; the only chirping you'll hear is the chick-chick-chick of a sprinkler watering the lush lawns of a four-thousand square foot house.

I yearn to drink the sunshine underneath the shade of elm; to bathe in starlight within a blanket of warm conversation. I want the world back.

Sep 13, 2007

September 13th, 2007

Each day this week I've arrived to work between five and ten minutes late. I've also been sleeping in my clothes, sometimes shoes and all. Not sure why this is happening; maybe it's the slow onset of fall, although, not so slow it seems this year. It's like someone flipped a switch, and overnight patches of brilliant fire have arisen amongst the leaves in the bows of the maple, oak, and ash. The season here in Wisconsin cools, drags, slows movement. Warmth gives energy, the cold eats it. See it in the insects, the flies that zig-zag through the air as if in slow motion; bees huddle together on the metal doorknob on the exterior of the building to hoard up as much warmth as they can before cool, creeping death unleashes. We're returning to the rhythm of a rotting season.

Sep 3, 2007

September 3rd, 2007

- to Jade, on her birthday

The midnight moon hangs tilted at half-crescent, yellowed, in the hazed eastern sky. Shadows fall across it just so I swear that I can see craters. Thin fingers of clouds shroud the lower half of the moon and for a moment it appears like a brilliant sail has lit up in the skies over the lake and I think about this picture, and the fog, and of riding out over open water, and the dampness in the air that kisses my arm that's resting on the ledge of the driver's side window; yet none of it will match this manifestation of woman.