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spacer.gif   Larry Winfield's Chapbook
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 04:10 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name (Poetry By Larry Winfield.)

1.....Wicker Park Sonata
2.....Transfer Island
3.....poem For Jimmix
5.....500 Years of Chump Change north
7.....another enroute poem
8.....Irish Black
9.....30 days, $25
10...incidents and accidents
11...Poem for Peace
13...between hippies and slackers
15...Oklahoma City
16...feeding frenzy
17...a cheer for the overdog
18...Mr. Sat. night
20...clock strikes Mar.
23...poem for Paul Robeson indescretion

About The Author


Wicker Pk. Sonata

valiantly (maybe),
writers musicians artists try to hold on
like the previous tidal wave of realtor shock troops -
the hookers and dope lord trainees
who did their jobs and split, on schedule.
i know how often a funkytown becomes
a Sandburg Village,
so i claimed early my piece of disinterred sidewalk,
put it in a box next to shards of stolen Berlin wall.
the homeless here have more roots than any
passing platoons of carpetbaggers;
they bear unwilling and taciturn witness,
trudging under the neutron-bomb afterglow
of phony gaslights,
ignoring the sparkle from fresh parking meters,
gleaning loose change as the place mutates
in presumed fashion:
broken-in hood to donut hole to
Haight-Ashbury/Greenwich Village/Soho
becoming Hollywood backdrop
becoming second-hand Seattle drowning in
Alternative Muzak
and Starbucks Blue Note Blend(tm).
the lumpenprivileged howl in...........protest,
anticipating the epitaph:
"apres moi, le deluge.".........not yet.
not while one sixth of six corners keeps shutting down;
not while the shuttling suits still stick out in the afternoon
like tired Conquistadors lost in the underbrush;
not while the neighborhood's dark half stands firm
against Gold Coast stench
and doesn't give a damn who's alderman, now.
there are still melodies visions whispered nightmares in the mortar,
waiting for breath....
some of us walk softly and stand on corners,

sounds like a standoff to me.


Transfer Island

standing on the slowly rotting jetty,
breathing in warm salt air.
i don't hear screams
from sea water salved on open wounds,
only the wind;
don't see rusted filthy shackles
trying to reflect hard summer light.
this is Transfer Island/
next stop the auction block,
where the savages spoke English and Dutch
while doing God's work....
no spirits here carrying dead weight,
no daisy chains of severed hands
that spell out 'lost inventory',
but....something's here, inquiring.
so i spill it, whispering into the wind:
the indignities suffered by grandparents and uncles,
bad dreams and last weeks' bullshit,
bankers barbers and insurance salesmen
grabbing the warpaint and kerosene
because some mid-level executive
buys a house....
my own flesh wounds from looks that kill....
a fist inside me unclenches,
but only one,
from my daisy chain.
i walk away from the jetty,
ready now to hear the tour-group lectures,
the history,
the twisting of touchy heartstrings.
no spirits here carrying dead weight -
instead, clustering among us
with open arms.
well, this is Transfer Island.


poem for Jimmix

the old man never liked any of my friends.
they were always like sharks,
in and out, up to no good, wild.
upsetting his smooth Basie moods.
much worse than mere street hustlers and fast operators,
we was "jazz niggers listening to that outside shit":
Ornette Coleman, McCoy Tyner, Bird, Diz, Monk, Dolphy,
anybody else who'd make you break a sweat standing still.
at home, Miles and Dexter were neutral turf,
but otherwise we agreed to disagree
(like so much else between us).
i think about the old man every now and then
when we all get together,
sleek sharks turned survivors,
reminising about wine, women, weed and dirty deeds,
and music; records in the background
blasting dissonant bliss from outside time and space.
he perches in ironic honor on the mantle
in a simple urn amid swirling libations;
smiles all around as Coltrane
pours pure sound
into the next dimension....



will poets and penthouses
ever mix
outside the realm of zombie dreams....
just once being above the clouds
instead of barely above the manhole covers,
getting drunk on shoe polish fumes.
crashing the tea party
in my workclothes,
downing hors d'oeurves,
licking my ink-stained fingers,
making upturned noses curl.
not rubbing elbows with anyone
who wants to small-talk about
the dignity of sweat -
don't talk to me about sweat
'less you want a blood-red-white-&-blue
history lesson.
this ain't about applause;
damn your spare change -
corporate culture petty cash.
i want sunshine and fresh air,
i want the international block.
i want the diaspora,
shake off the implanted memories
of feet of clay,
open up the cracks in their
genteel star chambers,
learn all my other real names
outside the realm of zombie dreams.


500 Years of Chump Change

it's time to talk about time;
half a millennium of self-righteous celebration
and half-hearted excuses.
new terms like
'black gold',
'new world'.
'manifest destiny'.
time to remember who owned the land,
who killed and cheated for it,
who poured blood into it.
time to talk about monuments to greatness,
about empires that crumble from within
because the official stories no longer staisfy.
it's time to talk about us, wasting time -
blaming Jewish banks Arab liquor stores Korean fruit stands
etc. etc.! ...
selling one-size-fits-all conspiracies;
selling klan hoods made of kente cloth.
meanwhile, homeboy trying to live large through shortcuts
ends up living behind bars or breathing dirt -
yeah, so cool. bigger and deffer.
it's time to talk about us reclaiming time,
the currency our ancestors put away -
because they didn't work for free -
they paid for the paper the Constitution was written on;
they fed and nurtured the Industrial Revolution
as their names went into the memory hole,
giving others the luxury of time
to sit and study and deduce and develop.
it's time to realize,
the brainpower that markets and distributes crack
also makes computers and slam dunks calculus;
it's time to grab the brittle skulls of every dead white male -
from Shakespeare to Shockeley -
crack them open and dig out every tasty morsel,
time to liberate every exiled figure from the historical gulag
and say their names!, LOUD -
fill the air with them -
like Thomas Edison's dark-skinned right-hand man;
don't know his name? look it up!
Frederick Douglass would demand no less.
it's time to reclaim time,
to rewrite and un-censor the official record
and collect on that overdue debt.
in other words,
after 500 years of chump change,
it's time to cash the check.


no north

ancestors came north to play the blues
instead of just livin' blue
but that's way back when;
now it's all day everyday generic motherf....
and no north to run to,
bit i tell myself, don't sweat it -
go easy, go cool,
slide big-shoulder style,
go walkabout through the back alleys
through the steaming entrails of the Loop,
smelling exhaust fumes and executive piss.
go past the empty suits
who've gained the world and lost their minds
lost their way in a maze of conformity.
remember the good old days, of
easy slogans
cheap dope
and clear enemies?
i do...
try to forget the thousand shocks
that flesh is heir to -
neighborhoods in decline
lives in eclipse;
try to forget furtive days
spent running in circles.
yeah, go easy, go cool into the sunset,
go sanguine, go glacial.
hold tight to daydreams of red-hot summers
boardrooms city halls covered in ash
bathed in crimson,
postpone your personal homeboy armageddon
one more day
and walk that walk -
the cool jazz acid house acid rock stomp;
dance through the pervasive demonizing
coonman boogeyman slop
like Stagger Lee
dancing strutting through blood and bones
and broken glass
like a ghost dog in the machine
like a shark trying to breathe,
like a fuse being moistened.
go easy, go cool on your appointed rounds;
long as you go forward
don't need to go north anymore.
go sanguine, go glacial.
stay sublime.


another enroute poem

too early in the morning,
on the cusp of hungry and fatigued.
step over the python-sized hoses
wriggling through the underpass,
up the wet steps.
one side shut down for maintanence,
station flooded with diesel rumbling,
throttling up and down in cycles -
a low E; A; E -
the noise of factories,
the double-shift growling blue collar serenade
of old industry
shoved down into the bowels
upsetting the rats under the rails;
this is a roar i could sleep to - cityman's lullaby
(gotta fight it).

(old man bent double held together by wrinkles
testifying about the ghosts of holy Teamsters
the glory days of Yellow Cab
the evils wrought by Mayor Jane,
trying to sell a Tribune 26 hours old. half price)

for the clattering of cars,
the moving diversion from weekend purgatory (again),
moving so i don't have to think about
the ash taste i'm taking to bed, again.


Irish Black

now is the time for reels and fancy steps,
to make merry, make melancholy;
pushing back the shortest month out of ken,
away with its tribal clatterings and dark revelry
in favor of pipes and strings and scattered lilting words
of a 'proper' ancient tongue rarely uttered.
now's the time to tap the fiddler,
to lean back into the raft of misty melodies
that evokes the heavy-footed heath ye starved on,
where the British practiced slavery first
before moving the enterprise south;
evokes the teeming stinking cities ye crowded into,
where 'Catholic' was a fighting word (and so be it),
but "be damned if we'll be shipped off in blue,
fight and die to free niggers - we'll burn down
the whole of New York first!"
(aye, tis what ye said, and nearly did).
sweet melodies lead to the promised lands
of bungalows and quiet dominion,
where bellies and pockets are always full.
now is the time for blood oaths and pledges of resistance,
fealty to the republic, boyos laid to sod,
promises to keep.
now's the time to lift a glass:
to James Joyce, for Finnegan and Molly! Bloom,
for reclaiming Eire's throbbing Gaelic soul
back from St. Patrick;
to Yeates, for admiring the recklessness of artists;
to Belfast - she often looks like Beirut
and wails like Sarajevo.
in a Bogside pub all is bliss;
one for the road is an insult to the road.
we all dance arm in arm, full throated,
our shoes smelling of beer,
all black and proud.
in stateside cities is where solidarity gets
tossed into gutters,
and color lines are as clear as accents;
only stateside am i compelled to remember
what 'black irish' doesn't mean.


30 days, $25

"you cannot leave your workstation
during the first and last hours of your shift."
Strategic Radio employee #5766 in Rm. 10.
i sit in another cubicle,
bargain basement, half sized,
not paid a salary or a comission,
phone crooked against a sore ear,
stealing dinnertimes and homework minutes
to ask about radio stations....
"radio stations? i don't listen to any/
i listen to 'em all/
that's a little damn personal/
don't eveah call heah again you sonofabitch/
this is a Mormon household/
this is a bordello/
This Is A Women's Shelter!/
i only listen to that nice Rush-Howard-Dr. Laura makes me sick/
i'm lying in a pile of puke
and i just shit my pants. call me back"
i roll different skins around my voice
to make the three minute non-sale:
in Philly and Boston i'm a snob,
in Dallas and Shreveport i'm Gomer Pyle and Jethro,
in San Francisco i'm vaguely British,
in Saginaw and Columbus i'm a trucker
with half a six-pack in me,
in NY & Chgo. i don't even bother -
we all get hung up on...
'there's a slight problem with your check,
we'll fix it next week.' -
when it was my turn to get
the Thursday night payday special
i knew; time for me to go.
done with phone work for good
with a cliche stuffed in my pocket,
waiting for the check in the mail.
still don't know how small it'll be.


incidents and accidents

i watch the moonwalker floating onstage.
i stop and rewind the adoring crowds, the magic,
stop and rewind his breaking the laws of showbiz gravity.
"man, why you playin' that?"
because, we won't be seeing him anymore,
not like this; only like now -
reduced to remnants, congealed bits of innuendo
and twisted myth,
another one put down, relegated to footnotes,
recalled only in prelude, like so many others -
entertainers and intellectuals,
movers and shakers
who forgot where they live.
like Lani Guinier before the soundbite slander,
like Jean Seberg, before telling the world
she liked Panthers.
like Henry Dumas, who spun words
of horror and beauty
before a cop unloaded into him in anger, in error.
like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark,
who never forgot
but they had to go to bed sometime....
like James Baldwin before he opened his mouth,
like Josephine Baker before she opened her mouth,
like Adam Clayton Powell before he opened his mouth,
like Marcus Garvey before he opened his mouth,
like Paul Robeson before he opened his mouth,
like Angela Davis before she opened her mouth,
like Anita Hill,
like Harold Washington,
like Malcolm, before the ballroom,
like Martin, before the balcony;
like there was a plot somebody cooked up,
crueler than fate
to keep the best shining parts of the collective us
intentionally unconscious,
below critical mass, off the critical path,
locked into kinescopes, ragged photos, yellowed memory.
successfully dismissed.

maybe it just seems that way.

i put another tape in the VCR:
Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield,
Marvin Gaye, Hendrix, Bird....
stop and rewind. stop and rewind.


Poem for Peace

there's a hole in the stream of Sunday morning babble -
the parade of corporate Caesars and think tank hustlers
exploiting pawns with casual impunity,
blessed by correspondents with portfolios to protect.
we wait for voices of discourse,
hungry for alternative takes on policy.
we wait on.
where i live
drunken battles and screams keep me awake at night,
something near the corner's been dead for a week.
where i live could be anywhere -
Mogadishu, Liberty City, E. Berlin, Port-au-Prince, 43rd & whatever,
half a mile from the Oval Office; does it matter?
we sit and wait for would-be captains to find the helm,
to make noise for the muted,
sick to death of crocodile tears poured out
for a dark continent under siege -
breathless coverage of massacres and assassinations,
"ancient ethnic conflicts" only as ancient
as the Berlin Conference of 1884.
in the absence of discourse
we sit absent-minded, caught in the entertainment web,
waiting for the day the revolution is sponsored by
Ultra Sheen, Kool and Old English,
waiting for the word to come down
in the only dispora language we know
because we can't be bothered with talking
to distant family firsthand
and taking action our damn selves.
in the absence of discourse
we're not told what to think,
but what to think about.
there's a hole in the stream
of Sunday morning babble
that needs to expand and intrude rudely into official opinion,
exposing the vacuum, making room for change.
we sit and dream progressive dreams, and wait


watching the cool red ball
emerge from Lake Michigan
as it simultaneously
wades into the Ganges river
slides away from wrecked buddhist temples
in Tibet
caresses mountain peaks
and turns its back on Krasnoyarsk.
in due time,
these slivers of earth
will resume their yin and yang existance,
for three minutes,
thousands of us
will hold
taste the same sky
bathe in mirror-image pools.


between hippies and slackers

When the streets were full of 60s strife
and scared boys in green stumbled through the jungle,
I was too young to burn a draft card
or plot a run to the border.
I was too young to wield a black leather fist
of Olympic defiance in Mexico City,
be bound and gagged in a convention city
kangaroo court.
I have an uncle who ws that age; I didn't miss much.
Streets now are full of hell -
little viruses and big guns.
The cloud forest is almost empty of frogs.
I'm too old to look over my shoulder during recess,
too old to watch death with a smooth face
lean from the passenger side of a car,
call my girlfriend a bitch.
I have a daughter that age, so I keep my eyes, my anxieties open.
I don't care that I'm a generation between supposed storms;
the eternal 'now' never changes, no room for remorse.
I don't need to be forgiven.


imagine you're hearing an old comfortable spiritual
that wraps around you like mama's arms.
imagine the song sung flat, squashed.
imagine lines,
timelines, bloodlines, family lines choked off.
time stops inside bloody chalklines,
spent shell casings on the sidewalk scattered
like spent commas, periods.
step on the line, be you next time.
slave ships end here.
reading moss on trees to find north ends here.
auctioneer's fingers poking inside mouths
hands probing under skirts ends here.
forty acres and a mule and finally allowed to go to school
ends here.
generation after generation spent enduring mundane malevolence
and deadly dismissal, till we said 'enough'
and tradition hit the fan, ends here.
standing, shackled, shuffling,
staring out from the point of no return on Goree Island,
shoved along, ex-child ex-parent non-person,
shoved into a bastard future
that somehow will be made whole -
all that ends here.


Oklahoma City

it's been a few months now.
a memorial diverts attention from the rubble,
bands of armed and camoflagued gremlins
still howl in the woods,
the raw bleeding urge to DO something
got choked on stumbling introspection.
righteous poets have pointed out what time it is,
wondering aloud why alleged patriots
don't get the same hot pursuit and grim resolve
as alleged foreign devils,
watched as the lynch mob came face to face
with one of its own.
i've done my libertine dance of excess,
of schaudenfreude, gleeful accusations;
now, i don't care.
this is just another atrocity,
like the rape of the Black Wall St.,
like Wounded Knee,
the sort of tragic spectacle your upstanding
granddads and great granddads
never lost any sleep over.
this time, motherhood and apple pie blew itself up.

so what.


feeding frenzy

the flyer said 'feeding frenzy' and caught me by surprise -
in two weeks, could i fake an obsession
or just write another poem about writing a poem....
my kinks don't twist that way:
never got a woodie from sniffing cinnamon buns,
don't know the joy of sneaking cheeseburgers and chili dogs
under a diet guru's radar.
had to sit in the dark and go back to the source -
to kitchens, sitting and playing amid circles of women
who rarely followed the receipes written down and passed on;
where children got bathed in the winter,
where hot combs made muffled sizzles on Saturday nights
for Sunday service;
where boys could still snuggle with grandmas and aunts
before hormones slammed them away.
in kitchens where family skeletons are shaken.
and out the back windows to gardens
watching mothers pour love and sweat into crops -
the care and concern they didn't extend to cotton fields
soybean fields
'cause that was merely work.
and away from backyards down rough asphalt roads
to the barbershops and pool halls of small town downtown,
Marianna, Arkansas
on Saturday afternoons,
listening to Rufus Thomas spin records on WDIA
behind the static buzz of clippers,
listening to grandfathers and uncles
sharing and laughing off a week's unspoken traumas,
running next door to the pool hall that was closed to hustlers
and open to children while the sun shone,
to the grill behind the the tables where a sweet old lady
fed me baloney sandwiches she called hot dogs.
she ate hers with sorghum.
a little older and food became seasonal work -
laying sheets under huge trees to catch bushels of pecans
i hated to eat.
at my unseasonal work i tapped other women's memories:
of hands that ached through the picking and cleaning
and fixing of greens
to get it all out of the way up front
and savor the flavor;
of blintzes and pierogies in Canadian Polish kitchens
and what real chicken used to taste like
and seeing olive oil in a shop for the first time
and asking 'how do you get extra virgin?',
hearing 'couple warts and a bad disposition'
from young geezers in a corner.
i don't have a kitchen where i live -
meals are a means to an end,
but i know what it means to break bread,
what it means to eat in solitude under an open sky,
what it means to settle for TV dinners.
like cliches for closure of rushed verses,
it all becomes food for the soul, i guess.


a cheer for the overdog

worn out on correctness,
the slow decline and fall of inpunity,
i whisper sweet nothings to myself, to myself,
to soothe burnt ears;
backsliding into primal machismo
looking for answers -
the comfort of angry white anecdotes
and supremacy sermonettes,
looking to fall in with outlaws,
real men who move fast never explain
make manly escapes,
real men - heroic, self-evident, psychotic,
real men who crave the mileage gained
from rough rides and wreckage
'cause some women dig scars.
wanna go back to playing on tightropes again,
cruising bars for throwaway bedroom eyes,
the backrooms of power for magic.

so much easier when you were all trophies.
or prey.


Mr. Sat. night

Mr. Saturday Night works underground,
sweats blood for change,
scrambles through classics and genres/poking transit apathy in the guts.
calloused fingers over strings
on skins
beating tamborines
beating skin
"damn, don't just walk past
throw me a smile if you won't throw a dollar..."
Mr. Saturday Night is Ms.
here and there,
twisting nylon strings around lilting French,
dripping electric blues down her back...
Mr. Saturday Night
carries a five-and-dime store on his back
hides religious tracts in his pockets
keeps three card monte under his hat.
Mr. Saturday Night walks to the last car.
punch the clock. Showtime!
Mr. Saturday Night waits for the train to leave,
waits for the next nomad shift.


around the corner and down the street
another clinic is under siege
in the name of righteousness -
acid sprayed in lobbies,
bombs hidden on roofs,
plastic fetuses displayed like dripping stigmata,
doctors' faces on posters:
"Wanted Dead or Alive."
the chanting begins as i approach the scene,
soon turns to screams;
the body language alone is enough to translate -
praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
clinic escorts run the guantlet,
their determined faces the only ones
showing care and concern for
scared girls and anguished families
shuttled past the mob.
i don't see mindless sheep
or wanton sluts
brainwashed by any 'abortion industry';
the only industry i see is out here
genuflecting for the newscameras -
an acceptable jihad
to turn unwilling women into the undead,
walking womb automatons,
or make them die trying not to be.
try to tell that to
the self-appointed anointed.
i pass through and keep walking,
brushing aside pamphlets,
stepping over and around human speedbumps
murmuring prayers like incantations.


clock strikes Mar.

the clock strikes March
and you can hear some of them sigh:
Nigra history Month is history
and we can get back to reality.
back to progress -
selling gin and skin lightener
in Ebony Magazine,
selling schwartze shadow-monsters
and gladiators to our children;
beating back all that nasty
anti-culture - those drums.
blaming us for evvvverything.

the clock strikes March
and we
get back to reality -
pushing up through
the cracks in the concrete,
dodging the heavy bootheels
very large feet.


muffled asphalt
crack of dawn silence.
rushing to meet the
marble and granite forest,
softened by blue fog.
you can even see the lake this morning,
alive with branches of surrendered heat;
drifting groves of white trees
feeding the forest of clouds.


tell me a story, grandma.
a story without commercial breaks
or an ofay guilt-free point of view.
the one i didn't want before
because there weren't any happy endings.
give it to me straight:
tell me how much multi is in my cultural,
how splintered is my past,
and why does it make me feel so alone, sometimes?
i've heard enough about Egypt, grandma;
tell me about Timbuktu,
tell me about Zimbabwe and Benin.
tell me about the middle passage
cause lately i've felt stinking cargo in a huge ship
set adrift. tell me what we've lost.
tell me a story, grandma,
cause there's lots of ways to be a crab in a bucket
and i'm getting too comfortable in mine.
tell me how it was before they came,
tell me about the peaceful utopia we....
well, not really utopia....
grandma, why did we stay here
if we're not really Americans?
how come them newly freed people
didn't just up and go
the first chance they got?
what promises and lies kept them here,
like hungry children waiting for morsels
doled out like crumbs;
or was it.....habit
taking us through lynchings and coon hunts
and cheap liquor and good music
and Sunday service and everyday atrocities
tell me why i should stay?


poem for Paul Robeson

a contrary patriot,
a philosopher king exiled,
an operatic athlete
revolutionary scholar,
an original 'bad mutha'
who would never use such language,
whose plain eloquence was more than enough
to set fire to democracy's dirty laundry
over and over,
who paid for it (still pays) over and over...
ok, is that enough ttribute for you?
we all know
genuine cultural heroes
get the establishment freeze-out -
slander is poured over their graves
before they're even dead -
so forget the insightful anecdotes;
a century after he came
and decades after being gone
'separate and unequal' still rules,
rebellion and subversion are marketing strategies
and righteous contempt is sexy,
aging libertines sit among herds of
smug bottom-line calvinists
taught the same old elitist hipster asthetics...
the day after we make solemn note
of this fallen beacon,
some of us will remember
that he would've had nothing to do
with any ceremony that didn't prevent
the next drive-by
the next useless diploma
the next knocked-up 14-year-old;
the day after, most of you will
again slouch hunched over, head down,
between paychecks,
waiting for the media hole
to tell you what he meant
and why he matters,
and think no more of it.


an indescretion

i remember Langston on a senate hot seat
in the bad old days of official thought -
the duration that outlasted the last good war,
when 'Judeo-Christian Tradition' was a new term
sliding off sanctimonious tongues.
i remember Langston barbecued before a panel of pharoas
for speaking freely,
for staring at icons on pedestals
and doing what pigeons do.
i remember the blacklist they threatened his black ass with,
the 'cultural revolution' style show trial
that put him in his place.
i know that no one else remembers;
American poetry history is fickle and spotty,
but i like to know whose shoulders i stand on
to be fashionable and iconoclastic...
it's so much easier for me,
in a different time, amid a different hive mind
to boldly say "i knew what he was getting at,
his reckless indescretion,
saying 'get lost, Jesus!'"...
i too come to bury the King James-conjured chimera,
the edited exulted divinity,
the government-approved
blue-eyed auburn straight-haired
middle eastern superhero
not to be un-worshipped.
i come not to banish but to expose the Holy Ghost -
the homeless man you spit on,
the wetback who tends your lawn,
the teen fag you wish AIDS upon,
the lumpen bloods lost marking time in the ghetto...
i try to remember our American dark ages
because the light is slowly getting dim again.
does anyone else notice?


the last poet in Wicker Park
is a walking clichée -
cousin to the 49'er down on his luck,
kindredof the ancient mariner
and other literary obscurities,
avatar of the pre-yupster baroque scene,
his celebrity gets him indifferent service
rather than a demand to pay first
at dead venues...
he can point to where
emanated from formerly cracked sidewalks
and used-to-be dives
but standing on the corner at night
makes him too visible,
evokes phantoms of Kings and Cobras
to jar invaders jogging to Blockbuster.
the last poet in Wicker Park
knows which street "The Real World" is on
and he don't friggin care -
he rides out the endgame of artist diaspora
in rent-controlled squalor,
living the junky life
without needle tracks or
the burned-out soul
the muse-monkey rides his back
just the same...
the last poet in Wicker Park
is an unwelcome time traveler
red-shifted at six corners,
hauling the ghosts of bohemia
in his pockets,
tagged and tracked by the industry
waiting to see where he lands


Maxwell St. memory
is near-corpse,
no longer news,
officially raped and resurfaced,
one corner of commerce left,
the 'University Village' flag
plunged into its bleeding wound.
the short-term urban apocalypse
is suitable stage
for the barely-dressed ultrahip
to slink out of limos
while satisfying
a porkchop sandwich craving
under a full moon...
...and Pilsen is too damn close...



time to confess.
time for truth.
time to face the doppelganger;
the portrait of the writer who doesn't write.

more ambition. less envy,
more sweat, less working slob mise en scene...

time to stop hiding in the mishigoss
of a normal life,
time to slay the fat dragon that sits on my chest
pins me to the chair
and whispers in my ear:
"give me next week's poem,
give me a book chapter, a character twist
and i'll give you hours of
bullshit fantasy and corporate dogma,
gossip and hyperreality.
keep changing channels -
you can tap that brainstorm tomorrow..."
time for truth,
time to let go of the truth of old loves,
lost loves,
time to reach back for the holiness of first love,
of indecision,
of adrenalin pumping in the face of mistery,
of childhood wonder and the possibility
of all things...

more ambition. less envy.

time to stop coy flirtations with fate,
waiting for starmakers and the topless muse
to ride over the hill
to save my ass from safe obscurity...
time for truth -
time to stop appearing just to be seen,
expecting applause and a wreath of laurels;
remember Bukowski's damnation of the
thin pretension of accepted writers,
the life-sucking trap of
fame, parties and self-belief...
heed the loss of editorial control
that money brings...
forget the chase for posterity,
for royalty checks and
a wicked culture hero rep;
do the damn work!
do the damn work!
do the damn work!

throw a rag over the TV
turn on the record player
and tell posterity to kiss your ass.

About The Author: Larry Winfield is the publisher of and a critic for and the print version of City Table Review. He is also the author of Rosedust. He is known for organizing the poetry protest at the Democratic Convention. Larry Winfield has been an active member of the Chicago Poetry community for over ten years as an emcee, featured poet, occasional traveling vagabond, a producer of short films, zine and book publisher and leader of the always mutating poetryband Brass Orchid.

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