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Chicagoetry: Damocles In K-Town

Damocles in K-Town

A sharp sword dangles
Just above my head now,

Hung from a low, dark cloud
By a single strand
Of horse tail.

I can feel it
But can't directly see it.
Got me on edge.

My temper's been showing:
Snapping at friends, grousing at gods,
Slouching roughly, like a beast.

O: I glimpsed it
In the reflection
On the large glass windows

Of the lavanderia
Across from my old bank
On the western edge

Of North Avenue K-town,
The old Pioneer Bank,
Later Banco Popular.

I opened an account there
When I lived nearby
And had to return recently

For some paperwork.

The bank is
East of Pulaski now, in
A new strip-mall set-up

Replete with drive-thru.
But I still love to examine

The bas relief sculpture
On the old bank's southeast corner, built
When a bank looked

Like a goddam bank,
Like a Classical
Greek temple.

My familiar old bus stop
Is still right there, east
Toward my past, west

Toward my present,
Past Keystone, Karlov,
Kildare, Kostner.

The relief figures
Wait more patiently
Than us

For the next bus,
Quite constant companions,
Depicting timeless trades like

Mining by hand
And blacksmithing.
You can almost hear

The stone figures breathe.
While waiting, it's easy to imagine
Them whispering as well.

Perhaps some revelation is at hand.

I'm not the only one
Who feels the sword dangle.
You can see a glimmer

Of this dread in other faces;
They feel it, too, blinking
Maydays with their eyelids.

It's from an old myth about

The vagaries of power,
The precariousness of kingship,
The risks of rule.

A courtier asks
To temporarily assume
The throne,

Just to feel that power,
But all he feels is the tip
Of that fucking sword

Dangling inches
Above his skull
From a low, dark cloud

By a single strand

Of horse tail,
Inches away from agony,
Disaster and destruction.

So are these stone relief figures
The blacksmiths
That made the sword?

Like some Beaux Arts Brigadoon,
Do they come to life
And mock my innocence

Whenever my bus pulls away?

At first I thought the sword
Was my dread, my grief
At sensing my wobbly world

Dissolved, my innocence drowned.
I thought it
A symbol of enslavement.

One revelation:
Indeed it is a symbol,
But double-edged.

Also it is a symbol
Of reluctant empowerment
And a weapon for battle.

Ready or not,
I've been conscripted
And I mean

To show up
In sincere rebellion,
Sword well in hand,

Relying not on gods
Or governments, just my fellow
Frowning conscripts,

Ready for any
Rough beast


J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance


Posted on January 16, 2017

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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