Wet Rail: A Collage
by Peter Zelchenko October 9, 2009

Rain flushes down the El car's rear windows whenever we accelerate
We are not fast, but we are speed

That Sandburg Village, immortal buffer zone, looms over the haze.
Cold, concrete majesty
Dwelling divine majority
Selective souls' monotony

"Come show me another city with
lifted head singing so proud
to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning..."

(Sorry, Carl, but Hizzoner, a Hamburglar, named a half-mile wall of intolerance after you.)

Somber girders as we go
Large and composed

Yes, there is grey beauty here:
Creosote beams
Amphibian trees
Project rubble
Never so real
Never so rude:

"Now rivers fold their arms round my Manhattan.
Let their torrents flow from icy faucets long untapped..."

(What made New York or San Francisco or Paris so romantic, Mama?
Something we lack? Why have you never really been here?)

This train pauses, teetering atop Wells Street Bridge
Awaiting permission to enter

Perched three layers high
From this wet, black iron track,
My eye praises

For one frozen moment I examined my own river, being peppered by rain.

As we now lurch away,
the waters of Chicago shiver there below
under a cold
and downtown

(Grateful nods to Dave Eggers, Carl Sandburg, Emily Dickinson, Karl Shapiro, Alex Kotlowitz, Ezra Pound, and, er, Mommy. Jeez, is there anything original up there? Incidentally, read of Sandburg's concerns, and his poem. Only rain from on high stopped the 1919 race riots that Sandburg studied. They really ought to re-name that place.)

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