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Chicagoetry: The Conversation

The Conversation

Two Hispanic teenagers sat behind me
On the train, talking about
Their schools: the honors programs,

The bullies, the sports, the opportunities.
I think they got on
At Western, on the southwest Blue Line.

My mind was all Gene Hackman
In "The Conversation,"
Honing in on the equivalent

Of Cindy Williams and
Frederic Forrest,
Listening, remembering:

"I was struggling in my honors class
And my dad said I just had to study harder.
He's really proud."

"I was really quiet, you know,
I was good at English but
If you did well on a test

Or a paper the other girls
Would be all making fun of you
And being bitter.

So I just stayed quiet."

"Our sports teams were
Really good. Our baseball team
Came in second one year

And our basketball team
Came in first two years
In a row.

I really liked that school."

"We had this honors program
But you couldn't get in
Unless someone had to leave.

The parents
Would put their kids in
And not take them out

Even if they didn't belong."
Then both had to respond to their
Dads texting them, at the same time,

In Spanish,

Wanting to know where they were.
"Wait, what does that even mean?!"
She repeated a phrase

In Spanish.
"I think that's a typo."
"Oh, OK, I get it now."

She made a call
And had a brief
Exchange with her dad

In Spanish.

They got off at Austin,
Each to meet their dad
To continue on home.

I was freaking out!
Here's the deal:
They were good kids.

They were good kids.
I was thinking
This, too, is Chicago.

This, too, is America.
There's a lot of yammer
On the CTA, most of it

Not what you'd really
Care to overhear,
Let alone remember.

You clench, you scan,
You itch to get
The hell home.

I could have listened
To these two kids
All day.

They were good kids
And I'll never forget them.
This, too, is Chicago.


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 May 24, 2016

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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