Archives for posts with tag: Chicago

Jesse Kunerth
South Shore
by Chuck Kramer

wrapped in a blanket of joy
that cold, February morning
when I was nineteen,
I roared through
the sun-sparkling cold
of Northern Indiana
grinning at the snow drifts
through the ice-veined window
of the South Shore train
hurtling into the heart of
Chicago, bringing me to


your lips
your gentle, reassuring touch,
your arms that
enfolded me in a loving grasp
which left me gasping, rejoicing,
astounded by love,
amazed at the fresh,
clean landscape of my life
transformed by that night of kisses
and whispered admissions
which were the keys
opening the door
to a previously undiscovered world
of lush, dense ecstasy

PHOTO: Chicago skyline as seen from the tracks of the South Shore Line. Photo by Jesse Kunerth.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Love is a journey, and crossing cold, winter miles for the warmth of open arms is always irresistible.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chuck Kramer has an MA in Writing from DePaul University and taught writing in the Chicago Public Schools at the Communication Arts Center. His poems and short stories have appeared in many publications, both online and in print, most recently in The Raven’s Perch and The Good Men Project. Other published writing includes memoir work in Sobotka Literary Magazine and the Evening Street Review, and journalism in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, and Reader.

wrigley field 1
Baseball Before the Apocalypse
by Leah Mueller

Cluster of bodies, soap
bubbles at a Cubs game:
1983, our bicycles shackled
to poles outside, entwined in

a steel snare. To saw through
tempered metal would
give thieves the pick of several.

We smuggled imported
beer in white bottles, eight
bucks a pack, and salads
in sturdy plastic containers
from the Bread Shop.

Bleacher seats three dollars,
nicknamed the “Animal Section.”
No one at the entry gate
ever checked for weapons.

We were good to go, unless
bottles protruded from the
sides of our backpacks,

or we spilled marijuana
on the sidewalk by mistake
as we entered Wrigley Field.
A friend once said,

“If you were one of the lucky
people who got to change
the scoreboard by hand, you’d
be so cool by default.”

We drank beer, passed
joints, ate salads, and
when the game was over,

we took our trash home
and disposed of it properly.
We were good citizens.

No one patted our thighs,
thrust their hands up our shirts,
groped under the waistbands of
our shorts, searching for explosives.
No one checked our health records

for evidence of compliance.
It was just a goddamned Cubs game,
a few 23-year-old kids,

and a summer that would end
like all the others after.

Previously appeared online in Rusty Truck magazine.

PHOTO: Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois, 2006).  Bleachers are under the green scoreboard. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem depicts a fond memory from my youth, a time when memories tend to be hazy. When I was a 20-something Chicagoan, I enjoyed many lazy afternoons at Wrigley Field. The days were long, security was lax, and bleacher seats were dirt-cheap. So much has changed since then, but not for the better.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is the author of 10 prose and poetry books. Her story collection, The Destruction of Angels (Anxiety Press), was published in October 2022. Her work appears in Rattle, NonBinary Review, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and others. She is a 2022 nonfiction nominee for Best of the Net. Her flash piece, “Land of Eternal Thirst” will appear in the 2022 edition of Sonder Press’ Best Small Fictions anthology. Visit her at

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

“At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;”
“Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

corot wounded eurydice
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

licensed ian whitworth
The Bean
by Steve Bogdaniec

Get up close and you see yourself, stretched and pulled, along with all of the other people around you. From farther back, you see a famous skyline reflected in an oddly rounded way.

But with repeated viewings, it becomes a magical mirror.

Something a little different each time.

In daylight, clouds, faces, the tan concrete tiles underfoot, and buildings can share focus. At night, the lit-up buildings and streetlights take over.

Sometimes, I’ll walk up to it with the rest of the crowd and inspect my own reflection, and others, I’ll want to ponder it from farther away.

Sometimes, its message is clear, and other times, not. Is it trying to tell me something, or am I trying to get it to tell me something?

It changes every time. But it’s always something.

PHOTO: Cloud Gate (The Bean), stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Millennium Park Chicago. Photo by Ian Whitworth, used by permission.

Sondra and Steve at The Bean - December 2014
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Downtown Chicago didn’t need another landmark. It’s a city full of them, full of steel, of decorative and imposing and very tall buildings, of bridges dressing up an otherwise dreary river, of weird big public art instillations. But The Bean IS impressive. Its official name is Cloud Gate. But Chicagoans don’t care. It’s ours, and we’ll name it what we like. According to Chicago’s website, The Bean (Cloud Gate) is a public art structure designed by Anish Kapoor and was unveiled in 2006. It is completely rounded, curved in on itself, and is covered in polished stainless steel that creates a “mirror-like surface.” It is 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and has a 12-foot arch in the middle you can walk under and through. (The website says that arch is the “gate” part of the name. I still don’t see it.) The sculpture is located in Millennium Park, on Michigan Avenue, in the busiest part of the third biggest city in the United States.

PHOTO: The author and his wife, Sondra Malling, at The Bean — an engagement photo taken by Shad Pipes (December 2014).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College, Chicago, Illinois. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Eclectica Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Jellyfish Review. His work can also be found in the Nancy Drew Anthology: Writing & Art Inspired by Everyone’s Favorite Female Sleuth. Check out for links to published work and updates on new stuff!

Summer sun shining through the canopy, ecology background
Under the Arch of Elms
by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

The breeze would float elm leaves
like the little oval pancakes
we hoped for each Saturday morning
venturing out on a heat buttered griddle.

We’d lie on the grass in the front yard,
count as many as we knew numbers,
think of the serrated knife,
the bread knife,
try to slice pebbles
with elm leaves.

Summer heat trapped the upstairs
of a Chicago bungalow,
made us tired-cry
to sleep out under the arch
of elms.

We pedaled trikes, bikes
in their safe tunnel,
played hopscotch,
four-square, concentration
in the street
of their protection.

Summer green to fall yellow,
we blanketed our dollies
with elm warmth.
November gone, March emerged.
We followed their pattern
and grew, too.

I packed a suitcase
within their shadows,
moved my childhood to the suburbs,
heard they were ill.
Their dying did not open the sky.
Their dying did not open their limb-arms.
Their dying only offered emptiness, youth gone,
a grave under the arch of my elms.

PHOTO: “Elm leaves” by ST8, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Traveling back to a childhood home, on a street now empty of trees, was like going to a funeral. Gone were the beautiful elms of my childhood, their lives taken by Dutch elm disease. Gone also was my youth, but not my memories of it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Zelke-Windau is a Wisconsin poet and a former elementary school art teacher. She enjoys painting with words. Her poems have appeared in many printed and online venues including Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Your Daily Poem, Midwest Prairie Review, and several anthologies. Her chapbook Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and a full-length manuscript, Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press), were both published in 2014. She adds her maiden name when she writes to honor her father, who was also a writer.

north avenue beach
A Lake Michigan Swim
by Tina Hacker

Chicago summers vaporized saliva
so even speaking was painful.
Tourists raved about the skyline,
rows of yachts lazing in the harbors.
But kids knew the lake
was the true attraction, fun and relief
in one package whose ends were open,
spilling thrills.

Bone-chilling waves roared out
like a siren to children being slathered
with sunscreen at the sandy edge.
A few raced in, ducked under,
pretended the water didn’t stab them.
Most approached baby step by baby step,
made genuflecting dips, kneeled to thighs,
then waist, then dove under, exulting
as their bodies embraced the cold.
Hands waved; legs leapt into sky;
imaginations spun bodies
into dolphins, mermaids, great white sharks.

After 40 minutes, parents on shore called,
“Time to come in.” Were ignored.
”Just ten minutes more.”
Wrapped in towels like burritos,
the kids’ lips
wore blue corn smiles.

SOURCE: Previously published in Imagination & Place: Weather.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard of North Avenue Beach, Chicago, Illinois.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and spent many days swimming in Lake Michigan. I don’t know how I did it. That water is beyond cold even at the height of summer. It wasn’t until my family took a weekend trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, that I found out that some lakes have warm water. You don’t have to freeze at the beach!

Tina at Magic Flute

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, both online and paper. Her full-length poetry book, Listening to Night Whistles, , published by Aldrich Press and her chapbook,Cutting It, published by The Lives You Touch Publications are available on Amazon. Since 1976, she has edited poetry for Veterans’ Voices, a magazine of writing by veterans across the country. This year she was given the honor of being a 2016 Muse of The Writers Place in Kansas City.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Tina Hacker posing behind a cutout at a performance ofThe Magic Flute.

Photo 1 - Shad Pipes
by Steve Bogdaniec

We live with manmade beauties
combined majestic standing above us
with their shadow light trails on the lake
world class models
gorgeous and overpowering
delicate features from far away
steel cheekbones perfect skin white lights
compelling blues and red and yellows
and up close, the kind of magnificence
that you cannot help but tilt your head and just
stare at

so outrageously beautiful
that often we take them granted
or try to deny their beauty outright
too tall too skinny too bright loud flashy
too accessible for the millions who live here
and millions more tourists
too familiar, too much to ever really process
so we shy away

but when we needed a backdrop
somewhere pretty to stand in front of
our models were available as always

Photo 1 was shot on the lakefront by the Adler Planetarium
looking back northwest at Chicago’s skyline
our photog stood us seven feet from the “no diving” stencil on the lake’s edge
he posed us facing him squarely
feet spread
like conquerors staking our claim on the land
but only an idiot would look at the picture
and believe we were any threat at all
anything other than an afterthought
to the immensity glowing behind us

Photo 2 was taken in front of Cloud Gate
or as anyone who has ever actually seen it knows it,
The Bean
a giant stainless steel kidney bean sculpture
reflecting everything along its curved surface:
clouds, tourists’ faces, our backs, us pulled close,
Sondra’s hand on my chest,
our photog and his camera and light stand tripods
the yellow streetlights of Michigan Avenue,
and again, the models in the background,
fewer this time, but more immediate, more imposing
distorted curved at the edges

the Crain Communications Building steals that picture
not the tallest model there
but the loveliest
its diamond-shaped face
outlined in bright baby blue neon
directly over my head in the shot

Sondra and I needed a backdrop to pose against
a couple of nice spots for nice engagement photos
instead, we found ourselves posing with professionals
who completely overshadowed us
Photo 2 - Shad Pipes
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I intended this as a tribute to gorgeous, imposing, wonderfully complicated Chicago, my hometown. As a typical Chicagoan would, I wrote the tribute as backhandedly as possible. In my mind, the pictures I took with Sondra Malling—my fiancée—are beautiful reminders both of our city and our coming marriage. This poem, however, is about my very slight annoyance that when I look at the pictures, I can’t stop looking at the skyline instead of us.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College in Chicago. Steve has had poetry and short fiction published in numerous journals, most recently Blood Lotus, Silver Birch Press, and One Sentence Poems. Follow him on Twitter! Just kidding—he never posts anything there anyway.

PHOTOGRAPH: The photographs were very ably taken by Shad Pipes on a warm night—for December, anyway—in late 2014. The photographs are used with his kind permission. For more information on Shad’s work, please visit

by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

SOURCE: “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg first appeared in Poetry (March 1914).

IMAGE: Poet Carl Sandburg visits a Chicago construction site, photograph by Leonard Bass (1957).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

The Gate Was Open

IMAGE: The Gate Is Open,” photograph by John T. Langfeld (12/17/2014).

ABOUT THE IMAGE: “Cloud Gate” (aka “The Bean”) is a public sculpture by Anish Kapoor, and is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois. The work reflects and distorts the city’s skyline.Visitors to the Park can walk around and under this work. It measures 33 x 66 x 42 feet. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. “Cloud Gate” was dedicated May 15, 2006.

jtl 2011 Santa Fe

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: A native of Minnesota, John T. Langfeld received a B.S. in Music Education from St. Cloud State University in Instrumental and Vocal Music and continued on to the University of Wisconsin/Madison for a M.M. and Ph.D. work (ABD) in Musicology. In addition, he studied aesthetic education and metacognition at Northwestern University (also ABD) with Benjamin Bloom and Bennett Reimer. Langfeld has written for “juried” journals and is a published poet. Visit him at His photography is represented by

Gregory_Lafferty Chicago Rain Ghazal
by David Mathews

. . . water in my hands becomes a reverence in the rain.

Rafiq Kathwari

 At the Art Institute, I have listened to the outside rain.
Inside, I see Caillebotte’s Paris street in the rain.

In Hyde Park, where I used to work, the side streets,
with so many trees, made it hard to get wet in the rain.

On Devon Avenue, I have pretended to be in Kashmir.
But how can I forget the smells and rhythms of Chicago rain?

Once, in Uptown, after Vietnamese spring rolls and spicy soup,
Why is it such an affair to kiss under an umbrella in her rain?

Chicago is an ocean—every neighborhood a different port.
One knows the same songs she whispers bathing in the rain.

In Andersonville, outside a Swedish diner, I take a break from my ghazal.
What is my obsession with smoking in the rain?

David, I say to myself, while exhaling, What’s next?
The passing Clark Street bus splashes, like a ship leaving in the rain.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Fellow poet Shadab Zeest Hashmi taught me that the ghazal form is about “The Beloved,” which for me is Chicago. I write a lot about my hometown, in the face of gentrification, because of my need to document the melting pot I know before it becomes milk toast.

IMAGE: “Lionsgate” (outside The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Avenue) by Gregory Lafferty. Prints available at


David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University, where he studied under Richard Jones. Recently, his work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, Midwestern Gothic, CHEAP POP, OMNI Reboot, One Sentence Poems, and Word Riot. A lifelong Chicagoan, he teaches at Wright College and College of Lake County.