June 10, 2017

A Poem by Joseph S. Pete: "City Elder"

Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in "Indiana Voice Journal," "Prairie Winds," "The Grief Diaries," "Dime Store Review," "The Five-Two," "Chicago Literati," "Dogzplot," and elsewhere.

City Elder

The haughty patrician
insisted the company town
bear his name,
though he never left New York City
and never took more than
a casual avuncular interest
in his namesake burgh
of tarpaper shacks and ticky-tacky shanties,
of tough immigrants and rough rail-riding itinerants,
of Old World taverns run by mustachioed barkeeps
with tipplers stacked 10 deep.

He insisted
these gaunt, pallid, bag-eyed men
wanted to put in 84-hour weeks,
wished to spend 12 hours a day
forging hot metal at the mill,
and hoped for nothing more
than sweat-drenched brows in
the amber glow
and blazing hearth
of the undying, eternal blast furnace.

Why, these men
would work longer and harder,
he sneered to the tweedy stenographer,
If those distant bureaucrats
didn’t always hold them back,
tamp their ambitions down.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,
I must go pheasant-hunting
while the day is long.”

His bronze statue
now looms over a
boarded up chop suey joint
That’s sat vacant since the 1970s.

© Joseph S. Pete

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