North Avenue beach Chicago
Chicago Beach at the End of Season
by David Mathews

“And if I do, perhaps I am myself again.”
from Frank O’Hara’s “Mayakovsky”

At first, I was happy it wasn’t packed or hot.
I pulled out a beach towel and opened up
my used bookstore find of Frank O’Hara.

I lifted up from my book to look around.
None of us are beach types. We make up
the land of beer bellies and love handles.
We are the ones who always go to a party
that ended when all the right people left.

Soon Chicago’s Michigan sea was blowing
chilling wet sloppy kisses right at me,
like a gross grandmother or ancient aunt
with too much cheap makeup.
Having the street-smarts of stray cats,
no one goes in the water.

I couldn’t write anything down
inspired by “Mayakovsky” like I planned.
It’s hard to focus or relax
when your world seems to be the world
at the end of the world, with a few
everyday survivors scattered like litter,
moving sideways like hermit crabs,
not knowing where to go next.

SOURCE: Previously published in After Hours: A Journal of Writing and Art (Summer 2015 Issue No. 31).

PHOTO: “North Avenue Beach, Chicago” by Helgidinson, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. He is a life-long Chicagoan that currently teaches where he teaches and writes.