Wednesday, December 7, 2011

we are the unimagined facts

Kansas anymore

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Friends, we are the unimagined
Facts of love and disappointment,
Walking among you with faces
You know you should recognize,
Haunting your deaths with the England
We speak for, which finds you
No home for the moment or ever.
You will know what we mean, as you meant
How you lived, your defeated majority
Handing us on to ourselves.
We are the masters now. The park's
A rainy country, ruining
The shoes you saved to wear to death,
In which we buried you.

"Revenants," Sean O'Brien

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In the nighttime

[California Avenue at Chicago Avenue]

Friday, October 28, 2011

where you're caught for an instant in the brightness

Bus stop
Heavy rain

Don't tell me you've never dreamed of this –
of waking in a room with a wide open window,

the air clear and ringing after night rain;
of needing no other reason than a sky

the unbelievable blue of which
sends you flitting deftly through the house

past the year-old jar of nails and flies,
the pile of dishes in the sink, and out the back door

where you're caught for an instant in the brightness
because the future's so much easier than you'd thought –

slipping your heart under the rosebush like a key,
everything you need in the canvas bag

resting lightly at your hip
and life as simple as turning left or right

"As I Walked Out," Esther Morgan

[Ukrainian Village]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ticking like an electric fence

Night bike

Had I not been awake I would have missed it,
A wind that rose and whirled until the roof
Pattered with quick leaves off the sycamore
And got me up, the whole of me a-patter,
Alive and ticking like an electric fence:
Had I not been awake I would have missed it,
It came and went so unexpectedly
And almost it seemed dangerously,
Returning like an animal to the house,
A courier blast that there and then
Lapsed ordinary. But not ever
After. And not now.

"Human Chain," Seamus Heaney

[Chicago Avenue at Damen Avenue]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

spirit is a far cry

Trick r

What do you call
the muscle we long with? Spirit?
I don’t think so. Spirit is a far cry. This
is a casting outward which
unwinds inside the chest. A hole
which complements the heart.
The ghost of a chance.

"Twinflower," Don McKay

[Damen Avenue above Haddon Street]

Friday, October 7, 2011

full of ghosts tonight


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

"What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)," Edna St. Vincent Millay

[Chicago Avenue east of California Avenue]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

a blue light radiates


A blue light
radiates from my clothing.
Clattering tambourines of ice.
I close my eyes.
There is a silent world
there is a crack
where the dead
are smuggled across the border.

"Midwinter," Tomas Tranströmer

[Damen Avenue at Chicago Avenue]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

shirtsleeves the whole night

Rainbow weather

The train stopped far south. It was snowing in New York.
Here you could go about in shirtsleeves the whole night.
But no one was out. Only the cars
flew past in their glare, flying saucers.

"Oklahoma," Tomas Tranströmer

[Chicago Avenue west of Winchester Street]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

a sort of bloom on them


The dog barks, the caravan passes on.
The words had a sort of bloom on them
But were weightless, carrying past what was being said.

"Grand Galop," John Ashbery

[California Avenue west of Chicago Avenue]

Friday, September 23, 2011

memories in groups


Lone chimes speak silence, memories in groups beneath the trees,
cows sad in the dusk. Behind the young shepherds a cloud
was bleating at the sunset.

"Engraving," Yannis Ritsos

[Chicago Avenue and Damen Avenue]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

out so early

Go Go

“One summer morning at sunrise a long time ago I met a little girl with a book under her arm. I asked her why she was out so early and she answered that there were too many books and far too little time. And there she was absolutely right.”
~ Tove Jansson

[Chicago Avenue east of Damen Avenue]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

blue nights


"Vanish. Pass into nothingness: the Keats line that frightened her. Fade as the blue nights fade, go as the brightness goes. Go back into the blue... I know what the frailty is, I know what the fear is. The fear is not for what is lost... The fear is for what is still to be lost. You may see nothing still to be lost. Yet there is no day in her life on which I do not see her."

"Blue Nights," Joan Didion


Thursday, September 15, 2011

acquainted with the night


I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

"Acquainted with the Night," Robert Frost

[Armitage Avenue looking east at Spaulding Street]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

most delusive

One kiss


When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.

George Bernard Shaw

[Chicago Avenue west of Damen Avenue; Damen Avenue and August Avenue]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

i just don't have the time

We Are Always Writing Stories

The odd thing about my life is that I have three full-time jobs and none of them really mix. In the theatre I'm known as a playwright. In Hollywood I'm known as a screenwriter. At the BBC I'm known as a writer of "quality TV drama". None of the people I work with know who the other people are or care. It's like bigamy. I have three jobs which I try to do all at once and it's sometimes hard to explain to people why I might be busy in LA or New Mexico or Shepherd's Bush next week, and therefore unavailable. In my house in Somerset where I write, I don't have a phone, TV or the internet. It's annoying, I admit, and it drives people crazy, but I just don't have the time.

~ Joe Penhall

[66 CTA bus, west of Western Avenue]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the only response


The only response
to a child’s grave is
to lie down before it and play dead

"Minor Poem," Bill Knott

[Damen Avenue at Chicago Avenue]

Monday, September 5, 2011


How little we know,
and when we know it!

"Like A Sentence," John Ashbery

[Chicago Avenue at Hoyne Avenue]

Sunday, September 4, 2011

debauched irreparably by hollywood

Patio Movie Theater Is Now Open "[I]nterspersed randomly throughout all of this, action shots from various poster advertisements for Technicolored and black-and-white movie epics wherein mayhem, sex, blood, torture, sadism, and skulduggery had reigned supreme—the bachelor's pad of a man who had been debauched irreparably by Hollywood..."

"A Fan's Notes," Frederick Exley

(Patio Theater)

[Chicago Avenue east of Hoyne Avenue]

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a man with a fin-tailed car

OK'd Cars

"Some people have more gadgets than others. Naturally you consider a man with a fin-tailed car more successful than the man who's driving a model five years old. It's false to judge people that way."

~ Nelson Algren

[Western Avenue above Chicago Avenue]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope


“Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years! And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there's no fate, but there is, it's what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead, or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain wasting years for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right, but it never comes. Or it seems to, but it doesn't really. So you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along, something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel cherished, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is is, I feel so angry! And the truth is, I feel so fucking sad! And the truth is, I’ve felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long, I’ve been pretending I’m okay, just to get along! I don’t know why. Maybe because... no one wants to hear about my misery... because they have their own. Fuck everybody. Amen."

The priest's monologue, "Synecdoche, New York," Charlie Kaufman

[Chicago Avenue east of Winchester Street]

Friday, August 12, 2011

slow as a cloud


One day
she fell
in love with its
heft and speed.
Tough, lean,

fast as light
slow as a cloud.
It took care
of rain, short

noon, long dark.
It had rough kin;
did not stall.
With it, she said,
I may,

if I can,
sleep; since I must,
Some say,

"The Monosyllable," Josephine Jacobsen

[Chicago Avenue west of Damen Avenue]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

the hand holds no chalk


"Its existence
Was real, though troubled, and the ache
Of this waking dream can never drown out
The diagram still sketched on the wind,
Chosen, meant for me and materialized
In the disguising radiance of my room.
We have seen the city; it is the gibbous
Mirrored eye of an insect. All things happen
On its balcony and are resumed within,
But the action is the cold, syrupy flow
Of a pageant. One feels too confined,
Sifting the April sunlight for clues,
In the mere stillness of the ease of its
Parameter. The hand holds no chalk
And each part of the whole falls off
And cannot know it knew, except
Here and there, in cold pockets
Of remembrance, whispers out of time."

"Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," John Ashbery

[Chicago Avenue west of California Avenue]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a bicycle that glitters like the wind

Cell phone pocket

This girl
Waits at the corner for
This boy
Freewheeling on his bicycle.
She holds
A flower in her hand
A gold flower
In her hands she holds
The sun.
With power between his thighs
The boy
Comes smiling to her
He rides
A bicycle that glitters like
The wind.
This boy this girl
They walk
In step with the wind
Arm in arm
They climb the level street
To where
Laid on the glittering handlebars
The flower
Is round and shining as
The sun

"Girl, Boy, Flower, Bicycle," M. K. Joseph

[Chicago Avenue at Winchester Street]

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

some specific something that's no longer required

Donald Trump live

Necessity being one of invention's many mothers, I have a certain faith in our ability to repurpose almost anything, provided it becomes sufficiently necessary. Then again, I suspect we've abandoned cities in the past because they were too thoroughly built to do some specific something that's no longer required."

~ William Gibson, Scientific American, September 2011

[Damen Avenue below North Avenue]

Monday, August 8, 2011



"One can summarize a plot in one sentence, whereas it’s fairly difficult to summarize one frame." ~ Raymond Durgnat

[North Avenue east of Milwaukee and Damen Avenues]

Sunday, August 7, 2011

every time you watch a movie


"Every time you watch a movie you become part of its moment, whenever it may have been, and you live the moment over again rather than simply remember it."

~ Steve Erickson on Monte Hellman

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Saturday, August 6, 2011

a perpetual setting forth


"Barthes' preferred way of presenting his hypotheses was in the form of linked aphorisms, and, as Susan Sontag noted, 'it is the nature of aphoristic thinking to be always in a state of concluding.' The paradox, then, is that this man who liked first words (and adored paradoxes) offered his provisional findings as if they were the last word. Needless to say, this last word was always susceptible to further elaboration and refinement, to further beginnings. This is how Barthes' prose acquires its signature style of compression and flow, a summing up that is also a perpetual setting forth."

~ Geoff Dyer on Roland Barthes


Friday, August 5, 2011

days before the injury was expected


You might remember trying to read
The notes scrawled on the decaying leaves
Of the branches whizzing upwards
As you tumbled down the yawn
Between mountains, irresistible
As the urge to bandage your chest
Days before the injury was expected.

"And About Time," David Lehman

[Chicago Avenue west of California Avenue]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

a minor light, a cooling star


"The madness of an autumn prairie cold front coming through. You could feel it: something terrible was going to happen. The sun low in the sky, a minor light, a cooling star. Gust after gust of disorder. Trees restless, temperatures falling, the whole northern religion of things coming to an end."

"The Corrections," Jonathan Franzen

[Haddon Street at Damen Avenue]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

constantly lapsing into oblivion


"I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power or memory is never heard, never described or passed on."

"Austerlitz," W.G. Sebald

[Damen Avenue below Haddon Street]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

figureless landscapes drenched in the light worked through the presumption of sentimental memory

Sunset in a flooded gutter

“Just how powwrful is art? Can it put you off your food the way love or grief or fear does? Can it slam the brakes on the relentless business of life, fade out the buzz and cut straight through to our most basic emotions: anguish, desire, ecstasy, terror? For most of art's history, it was assumed that if you pitched the stakes that high you would need stories, or at least figures, to deliver the poetic rush of feeling: weeping Madonnas; voluptuously vulnerable nudes; soulful self-portraits; embattled heroes laid low. Even figureless landscapes drenched in the light worked through the presumption of sentimental memory, briefly passing felicities. But Mark Rothko believed that tradition was all used up; that figurative art no longer had what it took to connect us, viscerally, to the human tragedy. In the century of mass incinerations, who cared about a few darts in the side of St Sebastian? The problem of modern life, especially in consumer society, he thought, was that unspeakable things had been done and contemporary culture’s answer was to dull the pain with distraction, with the daily satisfaction of the appetites. The problem of modern art was how—with such elementary material as paint and canvas—it could throttle the relentless chirpiness of contemporary life and reconnect us with the strenuous drama of the human condition... Only a completely new visual language of strong feeling, Rothko thought, could wake us from moral stupor.”

"The Power of Art," Simon Schama

[Chicago Avenue and Damen Avenue]

Monday, August 1, 2011

no moon and the stars sparse


Long ago in Kentucky, I, a boy
Stood by a dirt road at first dark
And heard the great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them
There being no moon and the stars sparse.
I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart.
It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore, they were going north.
The sound was passing northward.

Tell me a story.
In this century in moment of mania
Tell me a story.
Make it a story of great distances and starlight.
The name of the story will be Time,
But you must not pronounce its name.
Tell me a story of deep delight.

"Audubon: A Vision," Robert Penn Warren

[Chicago Avenue at Winchester Street]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a perennial social imperative

Outdoor Impact

"Kitsch-making (the urge to generalize and sentimentalize) is not the personal defect of some American professor or any one person, it is a seduction that comes out of the collective unconscious; a command from the metaphysical prompter; a perennial social imperative, a force. That force is aimed not at art alone but primarily at reality itself... it throws a veil of commonplaces over the present moment in or that the face of the real will disappear."

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Milan Kundera

[Damen Avenue below Chicago Avenue]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

well advised


“We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.”

~ Joan Didion

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

Sunday, July 3, 2011

by the bay and bay

BlackBerry photo of a Michael Bay perspective on a skyline shortly to be under attack at the theater behind me.

[Illinois Street east of Michigan Avenue.]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

constant jeopardy of decay

Hailstruck neon

"Against the constant jeopardy of decay there is the necessity of constant renewal."

"The Unforeseen Wilderness," Wendell Berry

[Chicago Avenue and California Avenue after June 30 hailstorm]

Friday, July 1, 2011

beauty makes sex sex


Not ashamed to say I loved him for his beauty.
As I would again
if he came near. Beauty convinces. You know beauty makes sex possible.
Beauty makes sex sex.

"Beauty of the Husband," Anne Carson

[Damen Avenue above Rice Street]

Thursday, June 30, 2011

comic complication


[California Avenue and Chicago Avenue]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

an only child above the measured thunder of the cars


By nights when the yellow salamanders of the El bend all one way and the cold rain runs with the red-lit rain.
By the way the city's million wires are burdened only by lightest snow;
When chairs are stacked and glasses are turned and arc-lamps all are dimmed.
By days when the wind bangs alley gates ajar and the sun goes by on the wind.
By nights when the moon is an only child above the measured thunder of the cars, you may know Chicago's heart at last.

"Chicago: City on the Make," Nelson Algren

[Chicago Avenue at California Avenue]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

anybody live here?

Michael Myers' Parole Officer Lives


A police car pulls up in front of the Myers house. Brackett
and Loomis get out and stand by the front gate.

Anybody live here?

Not since 1963, since it happened.
Every kid in Haddonfield thinks
this place is haunted.

They may be right.

HALLOWEEN, John Carpenter & Debra Hill.

[Oakley Boulevard below Chicago Avenue]

Monday, June 27, 2011

in a good mood


"I can't tell my jokes if I'm in a good mood."
~ James Fritz

[Chicago Avenue at California Avenue]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a handful of dust


What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

"The Waste Land," T. S. Eliot

[Chicago Avenue At Damen Avenue]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

the shunting of trains far away in the freight yards


"He walked down into the main square, where he could hear the fountain gurgling. In the middle he stopped indecisively, his coat unbuttoned, his hands pushed to the bottom of his trousers pockets, where they encountered nothing but the cloth. He listened a long time to the gurgling of the fountain and to the shunting of trains far away in the freight yards. 'An' this is the war,”he thought. 'Ain't it queer? It's quieter than it was at home nights.' Down the street at the end of the square a band of white light appeared, the searchlight of a staff car. The two eyes of the car stared straight into his eyes, dazzling him, then veered off to one side."

"Three Soldiers," John dos Passos

[Chicago Avenue at California Avenue]

Friday, June 24, 2011

the pub crawl that stops, looks and listens

Chicago History Museum Polite Pub Crawl

At dusk on the second-longest day of the year, a Ukrainian Village pub crawl sponsored by the Chicago History Museum, paused across Chicago Avenue to take instruction. They were unaware there was an impromptu meeting of the Chicago Man Kilt Club at their destination.

[Chicago Avenue at Winchester Street.]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ingen blandade allt annat än whisky och öl på tug & maul


Ingen blandade allt annat än whisky och öl på Tug & Maul. Att be Antek för en martini hade varit motsvarande be honom om en kyss.

~ Nelson Algren

[Damen Avenue below Division Street]

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Chicago, Illinois, United States

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