|Nelson Algren, Chicago City on the Make (1951/1961/1983/2001)|
Cove Photo: Art Shay
With heart at rest I climbed the citadel'sSteep height, and saw the city as from a tower,Hospital, brothel, prison, and such hells,Where evil comes up softly like a flower . . .Whether thou sleep, with heavy vapors full,Sodden with day, or, new appareled, standIn gold-laced veils of evening beautiful,I love thee, infamous city!
From Page 60
Every day is D-Day under the El.
From Pages 72 - 73
By nights when the yellow salamanders of the El bend all one way and the cold rain runs with the red-lit rain. By the way the city’s million wires are burdened only by the lightest snow; and the old year yet lighter upon them. When chairs are stacked and glasses are turned and arc-lamps are dimmed. By days when the wind bangs alley gates ajar and the sun goes by on the wind. By nights when the moon is an only child above the measured thunder of the cars, you may know Chicago’s heart at last:
You’ll know it’s the place built out of Man’s ceaseless failure to overcome himself. Out of Man’s endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making it the city of all cities most like Man himself -- loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth.
From Page 76
A rumor of neon flowers, bleeding all night long, along those tracks where endless locals pass.
From Page 77
While we shall leave, for remembrance, one rusty iron heart.
The city's rusty heart, that holds both the hustler and the square.
Takes them both and holds them there.
For keeps and a single day.