Archives for posts with tag: Chicago writers

candy heart mask
by Shontay Luna

The Shy Girl could not believe her luck,
the popular kids were suddenly nice to her
on Valentine’s Day.
After trading cards among themselves,
one of them approached her.
All smiles, pigtails, and bangs.
Shy girl thought the universe had
somehow reversed its axis,
causing everything to be the
opposite of what it normally
And that the bully had a change
of heart and was human,
after all.
Popular girl handed Shy Girl
candy hearts.
The multi pastels like springtime
in her happy hands.
Gleefully, she tasted one.
Savoring the sweetness,
happy that things would
finally change,
until it turned bitter.
Confused, she took it out
to look at the blank
And saw the marks where
it was scraped across
the floor.

Photo found at thefacemaskstore.

luna s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shontay Luna, a lifelong Chicagoan, is on a personal mission to enlighten others that her city consists of much more than deep dish pizza and Al Capone stories. Not that there is anything wrong with those things. Her poetry has appeared in, Black Book Press, and, most recently, The Literary Nest and The Daily Drunk.

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.
SOURCE: “Windy City” appears in Streets in Their Own Ink by Stuart Dybek. Copyright 2004 by Stuart Dybek. Available at

PAINTING: “Chicago Takes a Beating” (1989) by Roger Brown (1941-1997).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles.  His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry.  Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded the a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.


“A rumor of neon flowers bleeding all night long, along those tracks where endless locals pass…” NELSON ALGREN, Chicago: City on the Make

Photo: “Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sign lights up Illinois Central Railroad freight cars parked in Chicago’s South Water Street freight terminal” by Jack Delano, 1943

Wishing a very happy 176th birthday to the Windy City!


“Chicago is an October sort of city, even in spring.”

From Chicago: City on the Make by NELSON ALGREN

Photo: Nelson Algren, Chicago, circa 1940.


“In our beloved Windville we curse the cold and revel in being the most senseless spot in North America to spend the winter in. But the air feels new, and all things still seem possible, as they did to Willa Cather and Sherwood Anderson and Willard Motley and Hemingway and Frank Norris and Saul Bellow and all the other Chicago writers who — when speaking of Home — finally wrote the same story. It was and is a story of possibility, because the idea in the air is that the West is beginning, and that life is capable of being both understood and enjoyed.” DAVID MAMET, Excerpt from essay entitled “Chicago” in Writing in Restaurants (1986)

Note: Like myself, David Mamet is a Chicago native. I know of few other places in the world that inspire such deep and abiding affection among its current and former inhabitants — especially its writers — as does our beloved Windy City.