I Speak of the City: Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks
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[Chi-town sure does produce some good poetry. I’ve only been to Chicago a few times but each time has been memorable especially my first time in the dead middle of Logan Square (circa 1995) spending the week in what would kindly be called a hotel (OB: Cabbie, drop me off right here. CABBIE: Here? OB: Yeah. CABBIE: You sure you don’t want me to take you somewhere else?). The place was a wreck but the neighborhood was great with some of the best mornin’ café con leche and warm buttered pan de sal I’ve ever had in the states. It also gave me a great chance to walk around and get a feel for the history of Chicago architecture and city planning with its long alleys and wooden fire escapes reminding me of the BX but not at the same time.

This Gwendolyn Brooks poem is giving me the same feeling, like I’ve been in this building and heard the same conversation but under different circumstances. An artistic feat that Ms Brooks seems to be able to accomplish in every line break.]

Kitchenette Building

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” mate, a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent”, “feeding a wife”, “satisfying a man”.

But could a dream sent up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms,

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

© Gwendolyn Brooks

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  1. Happy New Year to ya, Betts!

    I just got through “Selected Poems” and am making it a point to add more Ms Brooks to my literary diet.


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