Taking a Walk in a Chicago Neighborhood

This past June I was fortunate to be able to visit my best friend, Laura, in Chicago. I had only been there once before, in 2010, but I was surprised by how well I remembered her neighborhood. Not that much would have changed; it is Chicago and space is at a premium, unlike here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Mostly, it was the retail stores that had changed. However, there was this one thing I noticed this time around that was not there in 2010. Now, I don’t know if it was the time of year that made the difference or if someone had moved. But there is this one house that we passed as we walked to Laura’s place or to the train station that made my trip memorable. It had a large-ish backyard (garden for my overseas friends) for Chicago, and you could hear Benny Goodman playing. But no one was around. Every time I walked out of Laura’s door, during the day, I could hear some old swing or jazz music coming from the Victrola. How awesome was that?! I must have walked past this house five times in four days but I never caught site of who was playing the Victrola. It has obviously stayed with me.

I know Friday’s are when I feature some poem and a site online, but I think today I just want to keep it simple. The memory I just wrote about inspired the poem I want to share with you. There are no pics, no quotes, just the poem. I hope you enjoy it.

And Happy Friday everyone!


Taking a Walk in a Chicago Neighborhood

By Jessica Scott


You hear it before you ever see the old man playing the vintage Victrola,

Benny Goodman, the grand “Duke” Louis, the First Lady of Jazz Miss Ella,

and the timeless sound of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue,

the scratchy sounds still vibrant, still alive amid the car horns,

shouting kids, and blaring hip-hop music coming from speakers with the bass turned

so high you vibrate as you walk along the grey sidewalk.


He’s always there playing his music unless the rain, the cold, or the need for a nap

drives him indoors. Those are the days you notice something is missing but you

can’t quite figure out the problem: you have ‘a’ and ‘b’, so what is ‘c’? The cars still

blare their horns and the kids are still playing, the heavy bass music still vibrates the air, and you

are taking a walk around the block. It is only as you pass by his house that you realize

it was this man all along that made your day a little brighter, this old man with his tinny Victrola

bringing a little sanity and quiet dignity into your screaming, out-of-control life.

Jesi Kay, poet and aspiring novelist, was born in the Texas panhandle where wide skies, lazy summer days, and rolling thunderstorms sparked her imagination and left lasting memories in her blood. An early reader, poetry and mythology were her passions. So much so that when she was ten years old her step-father gave her his college mythology textbooks to read, which were full of classic poetry and more than enough tales to fill her romantic and inquisitive nature. Jesi loves reading, art, going to the theater, the romanticism of the Victorian era (but not the missing conveniences of indoor plumbing and central air conditioning), running when the heat and humidity cooperate, and cold weather so she can wear her favorite boots and knitwear. Also, she still has those college mythology textbooks, a little worse for wear over time but still intact and telling their stories to her. Jesi is a contributor at The Well Tempered Bards blog and at www.octpowrimo.com.

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