28 July 1999

A Day on the CTA
December 18, 1998

Part 1

Now I know. The day on the CTA is today. Scott tries to make breakfast. Nobody is awake. I'm in pain. Clank. Clunk. Slice. Rattle. Paul & Molly laugh in the bed. It hurts, but two hours on the floor is all I get.

Ride this rail of steel into the morning.

Ride these wings of iron.
Make the city go.
Push play. Be a cog.
Turn: consider this a revolution.
Make the skyscrapers grow.
Crack this metal whip,
and carve an arc of sparks over the rooftops.

The sweaty December of 1998 breaks a puzzled grey day. Scott is managing breakfast skillfully, one turn of the omelet at a time. I am thinking about Adam and how to get him up and upstairs. Across Chicago, the nauseating jolt of alarmclocks prods the cattle from their hay-lined stalls. The grumbling, terse, crude, quasiliterate finance machine topples into motion. Rettberg cracks eggs, quarters apples.

I take in as much coffee as I can & contemplate my day on the CTA.

Last night, we stood on the roofs of Bucktown & looked over the square spires of the city. Cancerous city. Bootprint of inland waterways. Through what it means is it interconnected. And at what cost to whom? Adam's here.

All in the past month: Newt Gingrich resigned, Barnes & Noble bought Ingram, the Supreme Court overturned an Iowa law allowing police to search vehicles in the case of any traffic violation, without probable cause. Champaign's Gypsy tavem, where a murder occurred, closed quietly. Clinton bombed Iraq again again. Tomorrow he may be impeached. And William Gaddis died of prostrate cancer at age 75.

It's all fucking crazy.

Good morning, Chicago, you feed on slaughtered animals.
Your toxins are immune to us.
Your infestations have reduced tracts of blocks to rubble, razor wire, and tires.

Tell me my route, for I am fleet and have tracks beneath my wheels.
I'm rising to the level of an impeachable offense.

In Rettberg's lair, the brood has gathered. On the radio, impeachment hearings stumble on. And bombs fall on Baghdad. It is December 18 and disturbingly warm, although the Chicago wind is still bitter.

We spread maps and anticipate Chicago, as it is revealed to us in its richness. Strong expressways named after men. A city of zombies who hunger for real sleep. I have no plan other than to chase this pen all day. I have no analysis either. I don't understand the gravity that pulls people together to form cities.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books