I was like an oscillating leaf that’s blustered up the street, constantly bungling back and forth onto my falling face, and then propped up again by gusts of God, with moments of brief flight before sojourning on again, whilst staying out of harm’s way and trying to do what’s right, in a city that’s first (in my heart/mind). And even though a river runs through it, it has a never-ending thirst. It’s where I’ve arguably been at my best, and agreeably been at my worst. I got caught in its paradoxically negative feedback Loop, with the weight of the world on my broad shoulders, and never could quite scrape the sky. Hopefully I break its fourth wall of public solitude before I die.
I’ve always gravitated towards the southwest side of things, and knew from an early age that that had significance. In Six Flags Great America, I rode the Raging Bull & Giant Drop the most, but little did I know—that my roller coaster of a life would soon emulate such understandings. Notwithstanding the fact that I’m waxen, I waned in ebony neighborhoods, partly because their outer sheath resembled my inner wreath. The abandoned buildings reminded me of me, a shell of what once was, with all life inside jumping ship in order to survive. The boarded up windows were like blotted out eyes, waiting for some savior to restore their sight, or at the very least—a change of perspective and plight. No gardens grew here, just weeds with bodies wilting amongst them. The west side of second city is like being in a world condemned.
I used to go to the Garfield Park Conservatory and pretend that I was in a fairytale moor, only to wake up when I walked out the door. No poem can do this city justice, but hopefully some semblance of justice will one day be restored. We’ve all spent too much time seeing people get floored. Despite its senseless death, life can still be cultured in its eclectic breadth. I appreciated being cocooned in the dark, dirty, and dangerous, yet comfortable pockets of the conurbation. Although, at times, the idea of ever blossoming was mental masturbation.
It was there in that pure, primal myriad of death that I felt most alive; and in spite of the fact that the proverbial pigs and I did a never-ending jive—I reveled in it like a pig in filth, which, helped cultivate my tilth. I jumped and scrapped fences, brought stolen goods to my fences, all while fencing my fears—which filigreed into a metaphorical fence that encircled me like the youth center in St. Charles.
I prayed to be saintly, but I was slowly martyring myself in the name of self-destruction. Instead of reading the gospel, I read graffiti. Sometimes I thought of myself as a performance piece of urban art. I should have been slamming poetry, but was instead slamming dope. Now, the only thing that keeps me running and gunning is hope. The people who sold it to me were gritty, and their substance wound up strong-arming me like Frank Nitti.
I used to drive on presidential streets with dead presidents in my change purse, hoping for someone to present me with a present that could get me out of the/my present; but then came a time when I knew that this young man had to go west in order once again to be his best. I had to transcend the crime, which, was nevertheless sublime.
So, like the Great Fire, I moved to Phoenix where I rose from the ashes, until I entered into another Death Valley.
I can still smell the flaming saganaki, and feel the excitement of the saying after the spark.