The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto,
I’ve lived all over this town
I know I know Shaman’s Sage grows elsewhere
in the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, no doubt
closer to heaven. But here salvia
everywhere is divine
in spring, and, seeing all
these cousins, I see things every time.
North, quiet, no sign of an occupation
today. Purple clematis clings
to an iron fence. There is
an occasional flag, an uprising
now and then, but nothing like the field of them
year after year on my granny’s half acre.
Mansions of the sort
the leaders of the occupation
gathered here for a weekend must inhabit,
far from the street behind iron gates.
Signs warn passersby not
to loiter, not to cross the line.
A mosque and a BP station face off
like guard towers, each at a corner
of an imagined world.
Mansions turn to row houses,
row houses to apartments
that must be section 8,
then elegant old homes
boarded up now
and a field of weeds for sale.
The next sign the city is occupied is
a helicopter brooding over the face of the water
at the tomb of Stephen Douglas, the spirit, they say,
of a middle way on slavery, evolving. There is
yellow tape across the path to mark a police line
just beyond Soldier Field, just beyond the simple marker
that says a riot is the language of the unheard
near the spot where there was a race riot in 1919,
which I suppose could have been placed at random
in this country. Iron and steel fences
have been erected around a museum
draped with Genghis Khan’s face,
gates ready to slam
if things get out of hand.
Two blocks of snow plows
on the sidewalk at Balbo,
A crowd in Daley Plaza, around Picasso’s old baboon,
smirking as he always does, no larger than the one
at Wrigley today for crosstown baseball.
Bob Marley sings “Stand Up,” Beatles “Can’t Buy Me
Love” while people in Robin Hood hats looking
for all the world like elves dance.
People take signs they did not make
with slogans they did not think
to wave for cameras everywhere.
Chicago cops cluster at the corners,
a line of state troopers behind barricades
on the north, between the crowd
and the city’s seat of power.
One person after another stops
to take a photo of the line of troopers,
who have an official photographer
to take photos of every one
who takes photos.
somebody’s photo op.
Someone talking on a cellphone passes,
saying what are you guys protesting about?
A trooper marches by with a cluster of plastic restraints
clipped to his belt…
reminds me of the line of old buses
I passed earlier at McCormick Place, empty,
waiting for detainees to move away from here.
Pigeons are frantic. This crowd may be as generous
as the everyday, but there are fewer orts and fragments
a pigeon might be inclined to consume.
After an hour, I walk to Monks,
consider my options.
The server says you want Revolution,
and I say damn right. She
with grilled cheese
and sweet potato fries,
and I believe that has done
as much to change the world
as the long walk on the lake
and standing anonymous
in a crowd that is most surprising for nothing
if not how much it looks like business