Tag Archives: poetry

A Conversation With Lady Liberty

You’re awful good looking for 235. You wear your age well

I said and she blushed…a little

I found you along the way, on a journey from another place

Sailed under your face with the whole human race

You’re modest, I can tell. A woman of few words

That’s OK. I don’t mean to make a big deal

I just wanted to thank you, you know, for welcoming me and mine

We fled tyranny and you invited us in

We were tired for our journey, and we found rest on your shores

under a Golden Gate on a golden coast

She turned, a little surprised, methinks, to learn our route

not the traditional passage to Ellis under her green gleam

She tipped her glass and winked. I wanted to salute

but I just smiled and she smiled back

And I thought, what a great lady she is

sitting here with a glass of California Cabernet

I asked her if I could buy her a drink, and she said no;

that I and my kind had done enough

She offered to buy my drink, and I asked for bourbon

ah, Kentucky she said, knowingly

I prefer rye, she said, and I said, of course you do

And Chevy’s and apple pie and mom?

She stared at me and said

Cadillacs, Key Lime and baseball games with dad

but don’t tell anyone, OK? she put her finger to her lips

Her smile was infecting, and I felt warm and happy

as you do in the company of great beauty and intelligence

She dropped an arm down to her lap, and I noticed

a flag with some stars and red and white stripes

I saw some scars, little white lines on flawless skin

Are those new? I asked. And she flashed angry

for a moment and then it passed and she was quiet

I wished I hadn’t asked the question

Many moments passed and she said

There are many signs of aging in a republic

Iraq? Afghanistan? Libya? I asked

She smiled and held up the victory sign

These scars are not external, she said and showed them to me

The were, on closer inspection, like cracks in fine porcelain

age doesn’t set upon you like putting on clothes

it evolves within you, a relentless march of time

I listened, and she told me of  the decay that comes

on the shoreline of manifest destiny 

sipping Chardonnay at the end of the world looking west

at sunsets and green flashes and every unfinished dream

like civil rights and Mississippi and still-segregated cities

and Interstate 5 and modern slaves sold town by town

and stop for burgers and a shake near the levy at dusk

or Big Two-Hearted River and Brown Dog’s America

She rolled her eyes at my insinuation and show off

I’m not as easily defined by literature

Or perhaps Mr. Clemens might not have to wonder

about golfing or cigars in heaven or God

She smiled, and I laughed out loud

she bought me another drink

And somewhere off in the distance beyond the smoked glass

came the sound of fireworks and she winced a little

Are you all right? she didn’t answer me for a while

and I wondered about this place my ancestors envisioned

Will you excuse me? Of course, I said, and I stood

Such a gentleman she said, and smiled. Proud

Do you have to leave now? I asked

A lady like me doesn’t get to 235 without knowing when to retire

I looked at her for some deeper meaning, but she smiled

that disarming smile, and I bowed a little, unsure of formality

She turned one last time and said

Don’t ever forget why you came to these shores

I couldn’t if I tried. But it seemed hollow

and I knew I’d need to ponder that one for a while

Then she was gone, and I was alone in that bar in the paintings

the one titled “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

What a lady, I thought, sitting there with my regrets

and my gratitude and a host of washed out Hollywood types

In waking up, I realized that she was strong and resilient and beautiful

the kind of thing that doesn’t go away easily or without consequence

And if I ever get the chance, I’m going to buy that lady a drink

and tell her about my kids and the things they want to do

I think she’d like their version of America and the fact

that I won’t ever let them forget why we came to these shores

T.A. Akimoff 

July 4, 2011

Allegory of the (Easter) Cave

mara_cave

The incessant babbling is wearing on my mind
as we stand here chained to the walls of this cave

The shadows dancing on the walls around us give rise
to all the speculation that a mind ensnared is capable of

And we pick and choose our favorite lies from puppet masters
and the Old Witness in our midst, clutched tightly to our chest

But if I stretch my neck far enough, I can see by the blackness within
that the stone was long ago rolled away, and you’re gone so long

The shroud is on our face, in our eyes, a sacred relic’s profane
turn as we covered ourselves in it in your absence

We’ll kill the next sun-blind fool who enters the cave
without realizing the stone was rolled away

We have nothing but dogma, but we clutch it close
to our breasts until it smothers us in righteous fervor

The few remaining shrubs that provide us oxygen are cut down
and made into brilliant execution devices

To further cull the wheat from the chaff, because
when we find that door, we’ll find it very narrow

And we wait for a sign, as described by a madman
on an island of loneliness in a sea of regret

These are not chains that bind us to these walls
they’re fears that grip us tighter than any alloy

And the greatest irony  of all isn’t that you came back
to the cave to show us the way out of the darkness

It’s that the cave is the first place we went to look for you
when all hope was lost and despair fell on us like rain

There is irony in the fact the stone was rolled away
we walked inside and killed the messenger

And chained ourselves to these walls to wait
for god knows what in ignorance and grief

And all this while, over centuries and millennia
the fact remains, the stone was rolled away

By Timothy Alex Akimoff
4.5.15

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Line

Brown Line
This is a brown line train to the Loop

Slow crawl through brackish
brick and mortar

North Side dissonance, so
poorly named

You should run to warmer
neighborhoods

White train, brown line
better off with green

Salt-stained floors gray out
your browns & beiges

Even your graffiti is
too soft core

Glass-free parking
spaces

And pristine platforms, condos
winter boots

Bros & wool jackets
Merino scarves

This is a brown line train
to the Loop

where else? what else?
what more? what’s left?

Take me some place special
somewhere nice

Break the mold and tease
the status quo

I’m just standing here
waiting on the train

Take me across the river
toward my dreams

This is a brown line train
to the Loop

Union Station Fridays

Late September heat, and they look uncomfortable in Fall fashions
At the train stop in the suburbs of Chicago with the first leaves fallen
The kids are hyped and the confrontations hot in the quiet car
We move from the white suburbs to the black neighborhoods to the Circle and Union Station on Friday morning
We shuffle off the train onto the narrow platform
The girls with their yoga mats and city bags, the guys in suits and ties
Old guys who’ve done this for longer than I’ve been alive
and ladies of a different class trading lies and anecdotes like recipes
The diesel fumes ravage the colognes and perfumes worn
And the roar of the “Screaming Thunderbox,” the F40PH2
fills the cavernous bowels of the station’s south side
We run headlong into a people jam trying to get through double glass doors
For the city and the towers and the coffee shops
We emerge like summer’s cicadas into broad daylight
Up escalators and stairs to the world above
Union Station on Fridays, Thursdays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Mondays

A poem
By
Tim Akimoff

A commuting poem: The train is always late

image

The train pulls toward the station and you stand, claiming your place in the line of the first to exit

The train empties like a torn serpent, its entrails pouring from a series of wounds

The flood of people starts as a trickle and becomes a rush as they jockey for a forward position

Free of the train, walking fast, moving with a single thought of gaining the doors to escape the bowels of the station

But really we’re just late for work

The lady in front of you walks with a cane, and she’s hobbling fast, as if she’s being chased

And she is

You try to pass her, and like cars on a freeway, so does everyone else

And as the flow of the train’s entrails empties onto the platform, the wriggling mass spreads outward and forward like blood toward a drain

And we fight for position until we are slowed and blocked and then we groan and complain about the lateness of the hour

The congestion of the sliding doors is an equalizer, putting you back in sync with those who lined up early

And in our mad rush or a deliberate wait, we all exit the station at the same time, spreading out into the city like fire

Breathing finally and texting our superiors and subordinates as if this is something rare and altogether strange

To wake tomorrow and do it all again

An anniversary…of sorts

The world was in a royal mess an epic downward spiral
the candy man took buildings down the video went viral

The Shah deposed, nukes composed, and It’s really quite uncanny
the pipers pipe, the women wail and the tune’s about a boy Danny

Israel’s sitting shiva and Syria’s bloodbath quells the Arab spring
One nation’s debris is another nation’s treasure, cache, bling

The day Obama killed Osama, the day the world came unglued
Ghost men, ghost assignment, the photographs too lewd

Then one day in hell or heaven or somewhere in between
In purgatory or Maui, the two talked a conversation lean

Like Bush reading to students on a fateful day, far away
like a hurricane in August on a course for beads at Turtle Bay

So much newsprint goes to waste, and television’s stuck in time
Radio, the hot type era and the Internets entwined like rhyme

Happy anniversary, I hope it’s like nothing you’ve seen before
but something about doom and repeats, glass ceilings and the floor 

The world was in an epic mess, a massive downward spiral
And Obama killed Osama, and the video went viral…