Archives for posts with tag: Illinois

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!

Sunset in LITH
A Stroll Down Old Indian Trail Road
By Jacque Stukowski

Walk with me awhile, past the small quaint homes,
breathe in the stillness and fresh summer air,
follow the curve around bend or two until
we will come upon our town’s hidden gem.

It’s a quiet and unassuming view, and as we enter this beautiful space,
your feet sinking into the cool sandy beach.
You’ll feel the simplicity of older days, when things were just more
laid back. And something in me just bets, you’ll want to see a bit more.

The stillness of the water, mirrors the blue summer sky like
glass. I love the joyful sounds of children playing, as they splash
and dive off the pier into the cool, crisp water. And there’s always that friendly old man who waves from across the shoreline from his folding chair, waiting for a bite on his fishing pole.

Oh, living here, I need nothing more or less.
I live and breathe in this wonderful, peaceful place I call my home.
Oh how I rejoice on this summers evening!
Knowing that I’m just a guest here in these Indian hills.

In this town with its quiet lake in the hills, the setting sun heads to sleep under a blanket of blue moonlight. Tucked in tight among the emerald green hills of the creator’s magnificent design.

Yes, yes, I’ve shown you the place where I live my friend. I sure hope you’ll agree…Where the lake, hills, and sky become one for a moment in a blissful embrace, there is something so calming and sweet. As we softly kiss nature under the bright moon, and melt into the coolness of this summer night.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Evening Glow” (My secret treasure somewhere in Northern Illinois) by Jacque Stukowski.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacque Stukowski‘s blog God[isms] is her personal space to vent and share stories of growth through life’s ups and downs living with BP and ADHD. It’s a place where her writing and photos collide with spirituality, a dash of 12 steps, and a sprinkle of the daily trials of being a Christian wife, mother of two boys, and a full-time graphic designer. She frequently uses metaphors and symbolism to connect the reader to real life things in nature to convey the message she’s writing about. Her poetry has appeared in the Silver Birch Press May Poetry Anthology (June 2014) and Half New Year Poetry Collection (July 2014).

by Susan Baller-Shepard

I will go over land and tell of it.
I will traverse it until I know it right well.
Ribs in my chest become rippled snowdrifts in the field,
bones a plaster ceiling rippling to the edge, in the house
on the farm in a flat place, bones, my home here,
this land the bones I rest on, this land I know like bones,
know from the inside out, it’s how I knew your face.

I walk the prairie where the sun sits Indian style,
a pregnant woman sitting stretching out wide, nothing to stop her,
the prairie stretches out all ways, by silo and barn, field and track.

Should you speak of her, and shun her flatness, tell too of the green
of the corn, the light which moves and shimmers the green, until it has a      life
of its own inside your life; lighting you up there. Or talk fog settling in,
lying down, hiding distances, visibility just what you can see in front of       your own
face, then lifts and is off by nine. Or the blackness of the soil, when plant      shoots
break it again, awaken again, to light of longer days.

Fires raged here, ate it all up. Time and time again it grew back,
green, though only Burr oaks survived, knobby, thick, fierce
against the blaze. I will speak of the woman in the blue dress talking
by the arc of gold corn shooting out of the red combine. I whizzed by      her
in the field, in my car on the highway, acre upon acre of flatness      harvested.

Tell me again how you wish you had a piece of land? A hectare? An      acre?
Tell me how undone you feel without it? How you wish you had space
and time to know it, how you’d become a farmer, how you’d feed      someone
you’d never met, someplace you’d never been before. Land’ll do that to      you.
Make you better, for just knowing it.

IMAGE: “Illinois Cornfield” by Frank Romeo. Prints available at

buck in backyard by susan baller-shepard

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am the granddaughter and niece of Illinois farmers. I remember once a woman told me Illinois was the ugliest state she had ever driven through. I told her, “You’ve gotta have the eyes to see its beauty,” but she remained unconvinced. I traveled once to the interior of Brazil, near the Sertão. The soil there looked like lunar soil, it was so depleted from years of drought. When our Brazilian friends arrived here, they could not believe the richness of the soil. I never looked at the dirt in Illinois the same again. Plus, the autumn sunsets? They are something to behold, unobstructed, vibrant, amazing.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Buck in Backyard” by Susan Baller-Shepard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A graduate of the undergraduate Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, the award-winning writing and poetry by Susan Baller-Shepard has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post “On Faith,” Spirituality & Health, Writer’s Digest, Outrider Press Black and White series, and other publications. She writes for the Huffington Post, edits, and her poetry can be heard on WGLT’s Poetry Radio. In a warm kitchen, with the scent of baking bread, Susan’s grandmother Mabel Lake Baller recited poetry, illustrating words could be food, filling what was hungry.

by Richard King Perkins II

Now it is dark.
Glorious worlds of fireflies
lie scattered
on harsh, hungry pavement.
Phosphorescent bulbs burnt out
they crawl blindly
across oily blackness
at the edge of cricket night.

Croaking birds disappear,
dancing down into
the soul of Earth,
descending through the silent pond—
an unwavering monocle,
sentinel of falling dust
and bloody reeds

where a swan floats alone,
tender and sore,
dying in the blue shadows
at the side of an access road
no one uses anymore
except us
and a troupe
of harlequin nightingales
nesting in the throat of the world.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Abandoned Corn Crib” (Livingston County, Illinois) by Tom Phelan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois, with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in hundreds of publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Roanoke Review , Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, The Red Cedar Review, and The William and Mary Review. He has poems forthcoming in Sobotka Literary Magazine, The Alembic, and Milkfist. He was recently a finalist in The Rash Awards and a top-ten finisher in the Writer’s Digest poetry competition. His poem “Distillery of the Sun” was runner-up in the 2014 Bacopa Literary Review poetry contest.



Memoir/History by Neil Steinberg

There are only two ways to get to Chicago. You either are born here or you arrive. Those born here have a natural claim, the automatic ownership that emerging into the world upon a certain spot has granted people, at least in their own view, since time began.

But those who come here also have claim to the city, eventually, and some even become its icons if they stick around long enough.

…Does being born here make you a Chicagoan? That can’t be all of it. If that were enough, then Bobby Fischer, born at Michael Reese Hospital and promptly departing the city forever, was a Chicagoan, even as the hate-twisted chess master passed his final reclusive days in Icelandic exile, while Studs Terkel, born in New York but living decade after decade in his cluttered brick house on Castlewood Terrace, was not.

So being a Chicagoan obviously isn’t just a matter of emerging into the world here…So is it sleeping here? That has got to be it, right? It’s where you put your head at night that makes you a Chicagoan. That’s what constitutes “living here” in most definitions. your place of residence, where you get your mail. Do you have to both live and work here? That was the entire case against Rahm Emanuel — those who currently reside here are Chicagoans, while those who leave, even temporarily, even at the behest of the President of the United States, are not. You stop being a Chicagoan after…eighteen months, apparently.

But if that were true, if living here right now is the key then plenty of flight attendants and TV meteorologists perched in Presidential Towers between gigs in San Diego and Pittsburgh are genuine Chicagoans, at least for the moment, while Nelson Algren, passing his bitter last years on Long Island, or Mike Royko, residing in baronial comfort in Winnetka, were not.

Being a Chicagoan is not a matter of how long you reside here, but how it affects you. It is a process, an attitude, a state of mind. 



“In this wonderful book, Steinberg weaves a poetic mosaic of his life and the life of Chicago—past, present, real, imagined. Like many of its citizens, he came here from elsewhere, drawn by its brawny allure. He lives in Chicago and Chicago lives in him.” ROGER EBERT

“I grew up in Chicago. And reading You Were Never in Chicago reminds me why I still think of Chicago as home even though I haven’t lived in the city for more than twenty years. Steinberg brilliantly explores the historical and contemporary city and how each of us makes (or loses) our way in it. Whether you’re a native or you just arrived at O’Hare, read this book: it will make you feel at home in Chicago. Even better, it will you make Chicago yours.” DAN SAVAGE

 ”[A] rollicking newspaperman’s memoir . . . and a strong case for Second City exceptionalism.” NEW YORK TIMES

Find the You were Never in Chicagoby Neil Steinberg at

Note: Congratulations to Neil Steinberg on his book’s rave reviews and warm reception. I can’t wait to read this love letter to my beloved home town. Yes, I live in L.A., but will always consider myself a Chicagoan — and the beautiful, exciting city’s biggest booster.



by Ray Bradbury

“It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of…

And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
And all the houses shut against a cool wind.
And the town was full of cold sunlight.
But suddenly, the day was gone.
Night came out from under each tree and spread.” Blurb: Eight boys set out on a Halloween night and are led into the depths of the past by a tall, mysterious character named Moundshroud. They ride on a black wind to autumn scenes in distant lands and times, where they witness other ways of celebrating this holiday about the dark time of year…This is a superb book for adults to read to children, a way to teach them, quite painlessly, about customs and imagery related to Halloween from ancient Egypt, Mediterranean cultures, Celtic Druidism, Mexico, and even a cathedral in Paris.Fiona Webster  (Note: This 160-page illustrated book is currently selling for $5.50 at — that’s the price for a new copy. Sounds like a bargain.)