Valentine's Day in the City of Broad Shoulders
In Cook County,
Joey "The Clown" Lombardo is
Celebrating his 76th Valentine's Day with
D.O.C. cafeteria food, reading about a young priest
Arrested for marrying Roman soldiers.
Legend says he sent the Jailor's daughter a love-note
From a prison cell, signed Your Valentine.
These days Lombardo's heart is pumped
By a ticker and fading memories of a childhood
Filled with Jazz, and Bootleggers,
Clams casino, expensive red wine,
And fine Italian suits.
In the Cicero Projects
Kids are sitting beneath a Scarface poster
Cutting cocaine with Arm and Hammer
And listening to Kanye West's "Crack Music."
The Irony is lost,
Somewhere between Kanye blaming Reagan for
"Cooking up an answer to stop the black panthers"
And a Benny Goodman sample.
And Earlier, young Benny Goodman was packing his bags
For New York City on a frigid February morning,
Eight months before the stock market crashed.
Meanwhile up in Cicero, with one hand, Al Capone
Was filtering funds to a Government bank account
To help build local public housing.
With the other he was divvying up munitions for his infantry.
He was overheard saying
Did you hear Benny Goodman is moving to New York City?
Dressed in suits of navy-blue,
The Gang made its way up to North Chicago,
And in the garage of the S.M.C. Cartage Co.
They were spraying the cars red with blood.
One man dropped to his knees, his guts
Spilling out like a dropped bouquet of flowers.
The gunfire was improv jazz music,
All rhythmic and chaotic, barebones and beating heart.
The pistons of the getaway cars were
Smokestacks breathing smoke into the night,
Cigar ashes and empty bullet shells falling on wing-tip shoes.
The shrieks of the dying were unheard prayers
To all the Saints in heaven:
Saint Peter, St. Paul, St. Jude, St. Francis.
Oh, and St. Valentine.
Did I mention St. Valentine?
Geoffrey is a Research Editor and freelance writer living in Jersey City, NJ. He is 23 years old, and a graduate of Lehigh University. He
has been published in Concrete Wolf, and is a winner of the Williams Prize for Creative Writing.