Archives for posts with tag: Chicago poem



Poem by Stuart Dybek

The garments worn in flying dreams

were fashioned there—

overcoats that swooped like kites,

scarves streaming like vapor trails,

gowns ballooning into spinnakers.


In a city like that one might sail

through life led by a runaway hat.

The young scattered in whatever directions

their wild hair pointed, and gusting

into one another, fell in love.


At night, wind rippled saxophones

that hung like windchimes in pawnshop

windows, hooting through each horn

so that the streets seemed haunted   

not by nighthawks, but by doves.   


Pinwheels whirled from steeples

in place of crosses. At the pinnacles

of public buildings, snagged underclothes—

the only flag—flapped majestically.

And when it came time to disappear


one simply chose a thoroughfare

devoid of memories, raised a collar,

and turned his back on the wind.

I closed my eyes and stepped

into a swirl of scuttling leaves.

Photo: “Chicago Union Station,” by Jack Delano, 1943



by Joan Jobe Smith

Driving my green ’72 Dodge four-door with
green upholstery: a perfect getaway car for a
spy in a broccoli forest, I went to see my
lover for nine years every weekend 42 miles
away in L.A. and listened to my Sinatra tape
as I sped upon the freeways through the grand
canyon of all those Goliath-shouldered skyscrapers
and when Frank sang “Chicago,” I’d sing along
“My kind of town LOS ANGELES IS” because I
couldn’t wait to see my lover even though he
didn’t love me, wouldn’t take me to Chicago
where I wanted to go more than Paris or Rome
Chicago where he went all the time to see his
folks and I couldn’t go because he was ashamed
of me because I was married and wanted me
to stay that way and one day while I sang along
with Sinatra singing “Chicago,” right around that
freeway mesa in downtown L.A. where everyone’s
deciding where he’s going: Pasadena, Ventura,
Santa Monica, Bakersfield, a car older than mine
ahead of me had a blowout and its wheel rubber
black exploded all the way around and came straight
at me and my Dodge and I swerved into the fast lane
to miss it and found a miracle in the eye of the
hurry-cane: no pickup towing a speedboat, no
oil tanker, no RV loaded with kids and bicycles
just me and my green ’72 Dodge and Frank Sinatra
and Chicago: strange, lucky angels hightailing it
onto the Hollywood Freeway to the Echo Park off-ramp
to Sunset Boulevard and left onto Lucile to my lover’s
tiny garage-converted pad and our wows and what-ifs.
Later, after I divorced my husband and my lover got
cold feet and pushed me off the 100th story of a
heartbreak hotel, I landed into the arms of a
tall, dark, handsome poet and my ex-lover
went to Chicago with someone else.

“Chicago” and other poetry by Joan Jobe Smith is featured in the new Silver Birch Press release GREEN: An Eclectic Anthology of Poetry & Prose, available at