La Salle Street After Hours by Jeffrey Erlacher

blue in the lamplight
unmistakable soul
canyon wide
foreboding    city walls
O Chicago

hidden           hands                         knees worn out
on elevated track
hurricane gale          jericho looping
round an I beam center
of concretized lust

back to walls that should have collapsed long ago
colder now    even without valleys
wind raking through shuttered row houses
where people dare to live
harder to believe     in Heaven

her hair perfected for disneyland
(did the mortician dare touch it,
even to pick the grass out of it?)
pigtails following her winsome cheeks
there are no hills

but those made        by skyscraper ethos
train catacombs
magnificent miles
running into hollow orange glow stations
& sleepless intersections

in Back of the Yards
working men rioted for the hope of a better life
long after Union folded their mausoleum walls
in upon themselves
the too-young calf slaughter proceeds

O Chicago
is there resolve enough to congeal
into a scab of a hill
Heaven reminds me
of a girl I can’t find

bullets gnawed her bedroom wall while she slept
what I’d give for a hill
to escape
their faces
the heaving congestion


Jeffrey Erlacher, a former Chicago resident, is a writer and educator currently living in Denver, Colorado.

 

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