from the train window I saw the old me and my friends
who are ghosts. this is the haunting season
come devour me, ghouls.
then stepping out of the station, the cold wind like ghoul’s
teeth nipping, whipping
my bottle-red hair around my face so when I went to light
a nasty habit
I almost set myself on fire.
and whiskey burning from my flask down into my throat,
belly, toes
the deep south side
the Chinatown bars
photobooths, soul food, hipster music
and politics
the politics of fuck Rahm Emanuel, I don’t want to
Build a New Chicago, I want the old one back.

the politics of broken hearts.
we found a park
statues of stern men with fantasy novel names watched us
as we walked the gold-lit pathway that led
toward downtown, and the brick circle like a portal.
I wondered, if I lay my tobacco, zines, tallboy, notebook
on the four directions, would it unlock and open
the city of ten, fifteen years ago? all it opened was
the politics of cheap-as-hell burritos.
the politics of walking ‘til your feet hurt.
and I wept, whiskey n’ beer tears for the politics
of not touching.
the politics of staying Up All Nite
wanting to wander the streets but instead lying wide-eyed,
listening to the pitter-pat of rain.
the morning was bleary-eyed, wet-cold, grey.
they couldn’t find a cab for me, the bus kept stopping for shift
switches, road construction, no reason
the city making it hard for me to leave.
I passed by the past, by the old places, old days. the library
with its Gotham gargoyles.
I crossed that burnt bridge, breathed in the dank riverwater and
wafts of dark chocolate from Blommer’s.
a man played saxophone
“If You’re Happy And You Know It”
“Tequila”
“The Politics Of I Wish I Had A Drink”
the politics of loving the joint for keeps
yet knowing
it can never love me.

Jessie Lynn McMains (Rust Belt Jessie), “Building A New Chicago” (many thanks to Nelson Algren for inspiration on the last few lines, and to the World/Inferno Friendship Society for “The Politics of Passing Out,” and to strangeloopstrangeloop for #bottle redhead)

Way down here on Canal Street

the bike messengers stare you down

and businessmen brush right past you

in their rush to get out of town
Above the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier

the golden light is fadin

And when you’re standin on the fourteenth floor

you can always feel a building swayin
I had no trouble crossin the border

though I hoped that they’d turn me away

Cos then I’d’ve found myself back at yr door

and stayed there an extra day
I already wrote a song about you

and now I’m writin this verse

The fact that I miss you, the fact that I love you

well, I can’t decide which is worse
I met two pirates in the Adirondacks

They called me a handsome lass

I drank too much coffee and saw dead animals

splayed on the interstate overpass
In New York City I went to CBGB’s,

spent my day on the Lower East Side

and when I got to the Chelsea Hotel,

well, I sang Leonard Cohen, and cried
Cincinnati is full of hills

and purple trumpet flowers on vines

All the fallin-down houses have porches

and railings for the flowers to climb
I met a boy in Cincinnati

with dirtyblonde hair and a habit of smoke

He had a girlfriend, he told me

but still we held hands as we spoke
And I don’t know what it is about me

that makes men go astray

I thought that I’d like being wanted

but I just feel whorish this way
I’ve been drinkin even more than I used to

La Fin Du Monde, rum or whiskey & Coke

And I’m always waitin for somethin

And I suck on my cigs til I choke
Today, I flushed bloody paper down the toilet
which means there’s no fetus, no embryo,

no fishes swimmin in my belly

as a souvenir of my night in Montreal
This means I won’t be a mother

and, I guess, you won’t be a dad

We’ll never have a child together

and I’m not sure if I’m relieved or if I’m sad
Now I’m waitin for the train to take me home

I’m tired and it’s gettin pretty late

I’m sittin here on a wooden bench

They’re boardin track seven, track eight
I already wrote a song about you

and now I’m writin this verse

The fact that I miss you, the fact that I love you

well, I can’t decide which is worse
And way down here on Canal Street

the bike messengers stare you down

and businessmen brush right past you

in their rush to get out of town
Above the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier

the golden light is fadin

And when you’re standin on the fourteenth floor,

you can always feel a building swayin.

Jessie Lynn McMains, “Way Down Here On Canal Street” (2003)

Every time I’m down near Union Station I think of the first/last stanzas of this poem I wrote in the autumn of ‘03.

(via rustbeltjessie)

kevinohneeder:

Tom Waits - “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”

No, the moon ain’t romantic, it’s intimidating as hell,
And some guy’s trying to sell me a watch
And so I’ll meet you at the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch
I got me a bottle and a dream, it’s so maudlin it seems,
You can name your poison, go on ahead and make some noise
I ain’t sentimental, this ain’t a purchase, it’s a rental, and it’s purgatory,
And hey, what’s your story, well I don’t even care
'Cause I got my own double-cross to bear

And I’ll see your Red Label, and I’ll raise you one more,
And you can pour me a cab, I just can’t drink no more,
'Cause it don't douse the flames that are started by dames,
It ain’t like asbestos
It don’t do nothing but rest us assured,
And substantiate the rumors that you’ve heard