CHICAGO POEMS

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Freedom's Plow

When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
.....
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes
Song At Sunset

Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic-hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat-you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.
.....
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
For Selma

In places like
Selma, Alabama,
Kids say,
In places like
.....
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes
Brass Spittoons

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlantic City,
.....
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes
Burbank With A Baedeker: Bleistein With A Cigar

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-laire-nil nisi divinum stabile
est; caetera fumus-the gondola stopped, the old
palace was there, how charming its grey and pink-
goats and monkeys, with such hair too!-so the
.....
T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot
Nebraska

April doesnt hurt here
Like it does in New England
The ground
Vast and brown
.....

Jack Kerouac
Fear Is What Quickens Me

1

Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.
.....

James Arlington Wright
Old Indiany. Intended For A Dinner Of The Indiana Society Of Chicago

Old Indiany, 'course we know
Is first, and best, and most, also,
Of all the States' whole forty-four: -
She's first in ever'thing, that's shore! -
.....

James Whitcomb Riley
Histrionics

-Albert Parsons
went to his death
singing Annie Laurie;
didn't another have
.....

Lola Ridge
Picnic Boat

Sunday night and the park policemen tell each other it
is dark as a stack of black cats on Lake Michigan.
A big picnic boat comes home to Chicago from the peach
farms of Saugatuck.
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Whirls

NEITHER rose leaves gathered in a jar-respectably in Boston-these-nor drops of Christ blood for a chalice-decently in Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Cinders-these-hissing in a marl and lime of Chicago-also these-the howling of northwest winds across North and South Dakota-or the spatter of winter spray on sea rocks of Kamchatka.

.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Siren

I became a criminal when I fell in love.
Before that I was a waitress.

I didn't want to go to Chicago with you.
.....

Louise Gluck
Welcome To The Chicago Commercial Club

January 14, 1880

CHICAGO sounds rough to the maker of verse;
One comfort we have--Cincinnati sounds worse;
.....

Oliver Wendell Holmes
Mediums

THEY shall arise in the States,
They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and happiness;
They shall illustrate Democracy and the kosmos;
They shall be alimentive, amative, perceptive;
.....
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
Paterson

What do I want in these rooms papered with visions of money?
How much can I make by cutting my hair? If I put new heels on my shoes,
bathe my body reeking of masturbation and sweat, layer upon layer of excrement
dried in employment bureaus, magazine hallways, statistical cubicles, factory stairways,
.....

Allen Ginsberg
A Poem For Myself

I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.
.....

Etheridge Knight
Lambert Hutchins

I have two monuments besides this granite obelisk:
One, the house I built on the hill,
With its spires, bay windows, and roof of slate;
The other, the lake-front in Chicago,
.....
Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters
Three-legged Man

Well now friends you'll never guess it so I really must confess it
I just met the sweetest woman of my long dismal life.
But a friend of mine said, 'Buddy, just in case your mind is muddy,
Don't you know that girl you're fooling with is Peg-Leg Johnson's wife.
.....
Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein
Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Changing Of The Seasons

Oh the changing of the seasons it's a pretty thing to see
And though I find this balmy weather pleasin'
There's the wind come from tomorrow and I hear it callin' me
And I'm bound for the changing of the seasons
.....
Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein
Fellow Citizens

I drank musty ale at the Illinois Athletic Club with
the millionaire manufacturer of Green River butter
one night
And his face had the shining light of an old-time Quaker,
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
A Proper Trewe Idyll Of Camelot

Whenas ye plaisaunt Aperille shoures have washed and purged awaye
Ye poysons and ye rheums of earth to make a merrie May,
Ye shraddy boscage of ye woods ben full of birds that syng
Right merrilie a madrigal unto ye waking spring,
.....
Eugene Field

Eugene Field
Mamie

Mamie beat her head against the bars of a little Indiana
town and dreamed of romance and big things off
somewhere the way the railroad trains all ran.
She could see the smoke of the engines get lost down
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Portrait

(For S. A.)TO write one book in five years
or five books in one year,
to be the painter and the thing painted,
... where are we, bo?
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Carl Hamblin

The press of the Spoon River Clarion was wrecked,
And I was tarred and feathered,
For publishing this on the day the Anarchists were hanged in Chicago:
“I saw a beautiful woman with bandaged eyes
.....
Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters
To Hon Jesse Holdom Of Chicago, On Receipt Of His Picture And That Of His Baby In His Arms

Far from the great lake's pride,
Over the ocean vast,
Two faces picture, side by side,
The future and the past.
.....
John L. Stoddard

John L. Stoddard
Sunset From Omaha Hotel Window

Into the blue river hills
The red sun runners go
And the long sand changes
And to-day is a goner
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Poem (chicago)

'My age, my beast!' - Osip Mandelstam

On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind
The light drifts like dust over faces
.....

Bill Knott
Of Him I Love Day And Night

OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love--but he was not
in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial-places, to find him;
.....
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
This, My Song, Is Made For Kerensky

(Being a Chant of the American Soap-Box and the Russian Revolution.)


O market square, O slattern place,
.....
Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay
John Horace Burleson

I won the prize essay at school
Here in the village,
And published a novel before I was twenty-five.
I went to the city for themes and to enrich my art;
.....
Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters
Poems Done On A Late Night Car

I. CHICKENS

I am The Great White Way of the city:
When you ask what is my desire, I answer:
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Hoodlums

I AM a hoodlum, you are a hoodlum, we and all of us are a world of hoodlums-maybe so.
I hate and kill better men than I am, so do you, so do all of us-maybe-maybe so.
In the ends of my fingers the itch for another man's neck, I want to see him hanging, one of dusk's cartoons against the sunset.
This is the hate my father gave me, this was in my mother's milk, this is you and me and all of us in a world of hoodlums-maybe so.
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
The Great Chicago Fire

The great Chicago Fire, friends,
Will never be forgot;
In the history of Chicago
It will remain a darken spot.
.....

Julia Ann Moore
Chicago Poet

I saluted a nobody.
I saw him in a looking-glass.
He smiled--so did I.
He crumpled the skin on his forehead, frowning--so did I.
.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Youth

Strange bird,
His song remains secret.
He worked too hard to read books.
He never heard how Sherwood Anderson
.....

James Arlington Wright
Hymn For The Fair At Chicago

O GOD! in danger's darkest hour,
In battle's deadliest field,
Thy name has been our Nation's tower,
Thy truth her help and shield.
.....

Oliver Wendell Holmes
In Flanders

Through sleet and fogs to the saline bogs
Where the herring fish meanders,
An army sped, and then, ‘t is said,
Swore terribly in Flanders:
.....
Eugene Field

Eugene Field
Chicago

Men said at vespers: 'All is well!'
In one wild night the city fell;
Fell shrines of prayer and marts of gain
Before the fiery hurricane.
.....
John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier
Off The Turnpike

Good ev'nin', Mis' Priest.
I jest stepped in to tell you Good-bye.
Yes, it's all over.
All my things is packed
.....
Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell
The Sins Of Kalamazoo

THE SINS of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson.

The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab.

.....
Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
Visiting A Dead Man On A Summer Day

In flat America, in Chicago,
Graceland cemetery on the German North Side.
Forty feet of Corinthian candle
celebrate Pullman embedded
.....

Marge Piercy
John Hancock Otis

As to democracy, fellow citizens,
Are you not prepared to admit
That I, who inherited riches and was to the manner born,
Was second to none in Spoon River
.....
Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters
An Account Of The Poem Games

In the summer of 1916 in the parlor of Mrs. William Vaughn Moody;
and in the following winter in the Chicago Little Theatre,
under the auspices of Poetry, A Magazine of Verse; and in Mandel Hall,
the University of Chicago, under the auspices of the Senior Class,-
.....
Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay
Chicago Weather

To-day, fair Thisbe, winsome girl!
Strays o'er the meads where daisies blow,
Or, ling'ring where the brooklets purl,
Laves in the cool, refreshing flow.
.....
Eugene Field

Eugene Field
Nikki-rosa

Childhood rememberances are
always a drag if you're Black
you always remember things like
living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet
.....

Nikki Giovanni
To John J. Knickerbocker, Jr.

Whereas, good friend, it doth appear
You do possess the notion
To his awhile away from here
To lands across the ocean;
.....
Eugene Field

Eugene Field
A Jack-at-all-views

So, Estee, you are still alive! I thought
That you had died and were a blessed ghost
I know at least your coffin once was bought
With Railroad money; and 'twas said by most
.....

Ambrose Bierce
Prophecy Of A Ten Ton Cheese

In presenting this delicate, dainty morsel to the imagination of the people, I believed that it could be realized. I viewed the machine that turned and raised the mamoth cheese, and saw the powerful machine invented by James Ireland at the West Oxford companies factory to turn the great and fine cheese he was making there. This company with but little assistance could produce a ten ton cheese.


Who hath prophetic vision sees
.....

James Mcintyre