Spring Comes to Chicago

Spring Comes to Chicago

by Campbell McGrath
     
 

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Capitalism and American Noiseintroduced readers to the musical, comedic, and impassioned voice of poet Campbell McGrath. Now, in Spring Comes to Chicago, McGrath pushes deeper into the jungle of American culture, exposing and celebrating our native hungers and dreams. In the centerpiece of the book, "The Bob Hope Poem," McGrath confronts the paradoxes

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Overview

Capitalism and American Noiseintroduced readers to the musical, comedic, and impassioned voice of poet Campbell McGrath. Now, in Spring Comes to Chicago, McGrath pushes deeper into the jungle of American culture, exposing and celebrating our native hungers and dreams. In the centerpiece of the book, "The Bob Hope Poem," McGrath confronts the paradoxes that energize and confound us—examining his own avid affection for People magazine and contemplating such diverse subjects as Wittgenstein, meat packers, money, and, of course, Bob Hope himself. Whether viewing this life with existential gravity or consumerist glee, McGarth creates poetry that is at once public and profoundly personal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780880014847
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/01/1996
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Golden Angel Pancake House

Or coming out of Bento on a wild midwinter
midnight, or later, closing time Ron says, the last
rack of pool balls ratcheted down until dawn,
bottles corked and watered, lights out, going out
the door beneath the El tracks over Clark and Sheffield,
always a train showing up just then, loud, sure
as hell showering sparks upon the snowfall,
shaking slightly the lights and trestles, us
in our fellowship shouting and scurrying
like the more sprightly selves we once inhabited
behind parked cars and street signs, thinking,
hey, should we toss some snowballs? Bull's eye,
the beauty of fresh snow in the hands, like rubbing
tree-bark to catch that contact high direct
from the inexplicable source, unique however
often repeated, carried along on woolen thumbs
to the next absolutely necessary thing,
sloe gin fizzes to Green Mill jazz or the horror
of Jagermeister at the Ginger Man or
one of those German bars up around Irving Park
where a sup of the Weiss beer on tap is enough
to convince me to foreswear my stake in any vision
of the afterlife you might care to construct, say
the one with the photo of the owner in his Nazi
uniform beside a pristine fjord, could be Norway,
1940? Whichever, we're hungry now, cast out
into the false dawn of snow-coiffed streetlights
embowed like bowl-cut adolescents or
Roman emperors sated on frost, thumbs up
or down to hash & eggs at Manny's
or the locally infamous Alps, then there's one
at which I never ate though it looked absolutely
irreplaceable, the Golden Angel Pancake House,
whichis a poem by Rilke I've never read
though I've used its restroom, seen its dim
celestial figures like alien life-forms
in a goldfish bowl, tasted its lonely nectar
in every stack of silver dollar buttermilk flapjacks,
though the food, for all I know, is unutterably
awful, the way it resonates is what carries me
down the swirled chords of memory
toward the bottom of the frosted glass
aquarium of dreams, whatever that means, it's
what it meant to me coming home those nights
from the Lutheran college after teaching
the Duino Elegies to the daughters and sons
of Minnesota farmers, the footbridge over
the North Branch of the Chicago River, frozen
solid, eddies of whirling ionized powder
around my boots in the bone-cold subzero
that makes the lights in the windows of houses
so painfully beautiful--is it the longing
to get the hell inside or the tears the wind
inevitably summons forth? Homeward,
all the way down Lincoln Avenue's amazing
arabesques and ethnic configurations
of Korean babushkas and Croatian karaoke
that feeling set upon me like the overture to god
knows what dread disease, that cathartic, lustral,
yes, idiot laughter, threat of tears in the gullet,
adam's apple stringing its yoyo to follow
the bouncing ball, as if boulevards of such purity
could countenance no science but eudaemonics,
hardly likely, as if this promethean eruption
were merely one of the more colorful dog-
and-pony acts of simple happiness, acrobatic
dromedaries or narcoleptic dancing bears,
but which I've come to see with perfect hindsight
was no less than the mighty strongman
joy himself bending bars of steel upon a tattooed
skull, so much nobler and more rapacious
than his country cousins, bliss, elation, glee,
a troupe of toothless, dipsomaniacal clowns,
multiform and variable as flurries from blizzards,
while Joy is singular, present tense, predatory, priapic,
paradoxically composed of sorrow and terror
as ice is made of water, dense and pure,
darkly bejewelled, music rather than poetry,
preliterate, lapidary, dumb as an ox, cruel as youth,
magnificent and remorseless as Chicago in winter.

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Meet the Author

Campbell McGrath's previous collections are Shannon, Seven Notebooks, Capitalism, American Noise, Spring Comes to Chicago, Road Atlas, Florida Poems, and Pax Atomica. His awards include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. He teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami.

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