Karl Shapiro

(10 November 1913 – 14 May 2000 / Baltimore, Maryland)

A Garden In Chicago


In the mid-city, under an oiled sky,
I lay in a garden of such dusky green
It seemed the dregs of the imagination.
Hedged round by elegant spears of iron fence
My face became a moon to absent suns.
A low heat beat upon my reading face;
There rose no roses in that gritty place
But blue-gray lilacs hung their tassels out.
Hard zinnias and ugly marigolds
And one sweet statue of a child stood by.

A gutter of poetry flowed outside the yard,
Making me think I was a bird of prose;
For overhead, bagged in a golden cloud,
There hung the fatted souls of animals,
Wile at my eyes bright dots of butterflies
Turned off and on like distant neon signs.

Assuming that this garden still exists,
One ancient lady patrols the zinnias
(She looks like George Washington crossing the Delaware),
The janitor wanders to the iron rail,
The traffic mounts bombastically out there,
And across the street in a pitch-black bar
With midnight mirrors, the professional
Takes her first whiskey of the afternoon--

Ah! It is like a breath of country air.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Friday, July 29, 2011

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  • Buck Mulligan (12/5/2009 11:54:00 AM)

    Shapiro is a genius...
    (There is a typo in the fifth line of the second stanza - should be 'while' not 'wile' - I don't know how to fix it) (Report) Reply

  • Mauta Peter (3/27/2009 8:25:00 AM)

    excelent marrying of nolstagia for the country cool and beauty of solitude in a chaotic city environment. (Report) Reply

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