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Ballots From The Dead

Poems by J.J. Tindall
Selected from The Beachwood Reporter


You have before you the greatest collection of American poetry published in the new millennium. By a Chicago author. For a Chicago website. If you like that sort of thing.

But then, maybe, truly, it is the best-in-class. After all, who else can claim Ode to a Hoover Bagless Cyclonic Action Quik-Broom with On-Board Tools ("Quiet machine, soft machine, I machine") in the same breath as Five Boys On a Golf Course ("We who remained drove a van to Arlington, VA, for the military funeral, smoking joints and telling stories. The Navy bore pall for us all.")?

ballots.jpgJ.J. Tindall's "Chicagoetry" collection is at once hyperlocal and universal, teenaged and adult, desperate and thoughtful, familiar and only sometimes a little bit strange.

"I crave release from the heft of dreams," J.J. writes in Carnivale.

J.J.'s dreams are heavy, but must they be so? No reader with any depth of soul could think so. His poetry is about the constant interference by outside forces of those things which we - he - really cherish. Or ought to. A life of dreams shouldn't be so hard when the dreams are so real.



It is the best of cities
And the worst of cities.
I checked it out, and I found myself a city
To live in.

where will let me
Be me?

I made a bet. You bet!
I knew I'd need
Big shoulders to cry upon,
Big enough for both

My dirty angels. I knew I'd need space
To spread my brittle wings. I knew I'd need a place
To sing.

When I was just a boy
In Naperville, Illinois,
I thought Chicago was a blown-glass downtown
Surrounded by
A vast, dissipated

Ghetto. Burlington-Northern got me where I need to
Get to: Wrigley Field, Chicago Stadium, the
International Amphitheater. I saw what I could see:

Led Zeppelin, the Stones,
The Foghat, Queen.

Wax Trax, Bizarre Bazaar, eventually

Tavern. I became
What I could be.

Hey: I didn't go
To college. I went to
Illinois State. There, I
Learned that middle-class, heck, even upper
middle-class people lived in

The city. Dick Roeper, Mick Caplan,

Salerno. Evan, Vinnie . . .
Phyllis', Rainbo, Czar

Metro, Club 950, Exit.

Checkerboard Motherfucking
Lounge (hi Mr. Guy! ok

If we stay?).

Souled American . . .
Tribe . . .

Then, I made myself take
A leap

Of faith, a virtual swan-dive
Off the Sears
Tower: I got up


In a
And read my terrified poem
To a handful of people who came
To watch the hockey game.

Not only did I survive,
I got a free beer, and got out

I found myself
I found myself
I found myself

A city
To live in.


Remarkably engaging, literate, provocative and funny poems by acclaimed Chicago poet J.J. Tindall, selected from his residency at the Beachwood Reporter, Chicago's most distinguished online journal of politics and culture.

"Gifted lyric-ranconteur J.J. Tindall's style is pure quicksilver. It glides unpredictably from ecstatic Beat testimony to Raymond Carver-esque elevation of the ordinary to the sublime." -

"Low on pretension and high on conversational accessibility. Similar artists: Charles Bukowski, Jim Carroll." -




Posted on July 26, 2010

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