I recently wrote here about my decision to move from Israel, where I had lived for fourteen years, back to the South Side of Chicago, where I grew up and where my family has been since 1888. Leading up to that move, I wrote a suite of six poems about the South Side, White Flight, home, and exile. I have been posting them here all week, one each day, for National Poetry Month. Here is Part V; you can follow these links for Part IPart IIPart III, and Part IV.
South Side Suite, Part V: My Chicago
South Side Suite, Part V

  1. Born in a mic, y’know, Michael Reese Hospital
  2. Forgot where I’m from? Please, that’s farcical.
  3. The city feeds me, busy, cluttered
  4. Petri dish of high-low culture
  5. breakdown, raised me, bread & butter;
  6. favorite graffiti: “Bomb the Suburbs”.
  7. Didn’t drive much, took a year to take the test;
  8. my ride was the #6 Jeffrey Express.
  9. Haven’t driven in years — no need and don’t wanna —
  10. with the El on high, and that’s a double entendre.
  11. Rep the Chi; I’ve got Common Sense.
  12. South Side grown, but I’m not Mr. West.
  13. Smartmouthed rascal, Fiasco talk,
  14. Psalm One, Add-2, Sidewalk Chalk.
  15. The beverage I never ever drink I call “pop”.
  16. Not a nebish, got a fetish: South Side’s the spot.

1) So why is the Branding Iron my moniker?
2) South Side proper and I want to give honor to a
3) hot spot watering hole of my family
4) Local restaurant with its own bowling alley
5) You got me? You wait for table and roll
6) between frames they bring you hot, fresh doughnut holes.
7) What’s more, I name things, call ‘em like I see ‘em
8) a force of nature, like Morton Arboretum.
9) I’ll abort your bleating cuz you’re short on credence
10) with your sordid screeds why on the north you’re screened in.
11) ‘Cause hey, the old neighborhood’s doing fine,
12) even though you hotfooted, and made it Judenrein.
13) So save the statues, erect a snowman;
14) it’s alive and thriving, but December’s cold, man,
15) You’re full of — put it this way, get a rectal probe, man.
16) {beat} South side’s my ancestral homeland.