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Ten Years Gone

TEN YEARS GONE

Again: For CDR Dan F. Shanower, USN, who was my friend.

I.

You linger in my mind, an art-deco
showplace

built in 1921,
recently restored to its original
cathedral-like glory,

where Frank Sinatra
used to play
seven shows a day.

You permeate my grief, designed by
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill,
completed in 1973

and still
the tallest building in America.
They actually evacuated it

after you were killed
at the Pentagon.

You recur in the landscape
of my dreams, originally a shallow
creek meandering
through a dank swamp
of wild onions

until Europeans discovered it
and began to settle there and

which is now
the third largest city
in America.

II.

There's a memorial to you
and the others lost
back home in Naperville,
on the river

which you used to call
"the Mighty DuPage."
It includes a post-modern sculpture

which reminds me
of the Object
from the cover
of Led Zeppelin's "Presence."

Your portrait, in full Navy dress,
is in a small corner.

Somehow, you are not quite
there. Nope: can't almost
hear you breathe.

I hoard
what I loved about you
in my being.
There, you are.

A presence.

There we are, piling into Speedy's mom's
van, after school, Hell-bent on the head shops
of Old Town.
Secret mission.

Bust outta Naperville
for the big, bad city,
the rush, the charge,
the fear.

When we'd hit
I-88 (and not a second sooner),
we'd punch in the tape of
"Houses of the Holy,"

kicking off with
"The Song Remains the Same,"
ideal epic saga tattoo.

Get to Bizarre Bazaar:
bongs, bootleg LPs and
groovy Civil Defense jackets.

Together, see what else
is out there.
We knew: in sleepy Naperville
there's just no place for
"street fighting men."

Now: I wonder how often,
on our way to a Cubs game,
we sauntered past the Doughboy statue,
the World War One memorial
at the Naperville train station,

oblivious, as they say,
"not a care
in the world."

Let there be
not a care
in the world.

III.

You burnish my soul, built in 1916
as a commercial port of call
for Great Lakes shipping,

taken over by the U.S. Navy
who converted it into
a training base for pilots,

including the first
President Bush,

in the Second World War.

Then it was the campus
of the University of Illinois at Chicago
and is now

the number one tourist attraction
in the state.

IV.

Remember when Speedy died?
That was rough.

Remember Baccalaureate?
He was co-Valedictorian.
In his speech, he challenged us--
quoting Frost--
to take "the road
less traveled."

I believe
we came through.

He always called us
"The Unholy Three." Remember?
Then, first week of September,

he was gone.

We became the
unraveling two,
bearing him
to his grave.

Our paths
were already diverging
as we struggled to become
our own men.

By the time
you were killed,
we weren't
getting along
so well

anymore.
O Lord:

I'm sorry.

Whenever I remember
this kind of September,
I get a little skittish.

Surly, pre-occupied,
churning with fleeting joys
and lingering sorrows.

I want to cry out--
fait un cri de coeur--
but I don't want
to attract attention.

So I thought
I'd write it
in a poem

so no one
would know.




Permalink

Posted on September 9, 2011


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Time For Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.
POLITICS - More College Aid Going To The Rich.
SPORTS - Bears At Peak McCaskey.

BOOKS - Before Breitbart.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: New Fucking Frying Pan.


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