Chicago

You kill hogs for us all,
Making tools, stacking grain,
Playing with railroads and handling a nation’s trains.
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of big body and quick mind,
Rumor calls you monstrous and I know it’s so, for I saw a lady in paint, shining by a gas lamp of yours, luring farm boys.
And rumor calls you corrupt and I say back: It is so, I saw a gunman kill and walk about to kill again.
And rumor calls you brutal and my word is: On a child’s mouth I saw a mark of wanton starvation.
And having said so I turn again to all who scoff at this my city, and I scoff too and say:
Go and find any city that isn’t this, lifting its chin up, singing so proud to work so rough and strong and cunning.
Flinging a dynamic jinx amid daily toil of piling job on job, this is a tall bold guy in spot four standing vivid against soft tiny towns;
Angry as a dog with mouth lapping for action, cunning as a warrior fighting against sand,
Bald,
Digging,
Crashing,
Planning,
Building, bulldozing, building again,
Through smoky dust all around his mouth, laughing with blank incisors,
Struggling to stand with all that must pass on his back, laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing just as an ignorant champion who hasn’t lost any fights,
Bragging and laughing that through his wrist is a rhythm, and through his ribs our soul, Laughing!
Laughing a stormy, husky, brawling laugh of Youth, shirt off, oozing, proudly killing hogs, making tools, stacking grain, playing with railroads, and handling trains for our nation.

You Are Old, Mr. Favre

“You are old, Mr. Favre,” a reporter did call.
“And you’ve seen quite a lot of the game.
And yet you incessantly throw the football
To the wrong team. Isn’t that a shame?”

“In my youth,” the veteran replied to the man,
“I had no control of my arm.
But I do as I’ve practiced, since that way I can
Be sure that I’ll come to no harm.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before.
And have played with most uncommon skill.
Yet at the end, the Vikings just couldn’t score.
Surely this wasn’t part of your will?”

“In my youth,” answered Brett, taking his helmet off,
“I kept all my limbs in good care.
But now,” he went on, with a sigh and a cough,
“My bygone strength just isn’t there.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet.
But your whispers will stir up new rumors each week.
Pray, how do you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” Favre explained, “I’d pretend to broadcast
My made-up playoff victories.
My mouth got practice from those years so long past.
Now I can start rumors with ease.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one can hardly suppose
That next season you will come back.
Or is that not true? You know how it goes.
Will you stay and help the attack?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Favre responded. “Don’t give yourself airs.
I’ll have the summer to think about that stuff.
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”

Bright Star

Bright star, I wish I was strong as thou art–
Not in solo glory aloft at night
And watching, with my constant lids apart,
A natural, nocturnal burst of light,
Moving surf at its daily, holy task
Of ablution for all us human boors,
Or gazing on a softly-falling mask
Of snow upon tall mountains and low moors–
No–although still unchanging, proud and tall,
Pillow’d upon my fair companion’s lung
To always know its soft trip up and fall
Always conscious and loving, always young,
Knowing inhalation, not old too soon
And so stay always–or I’ll faint and swoon.

“Pillow’d” was in this parody’s original vocabulary, punctuation and all. I’m lucky!

Colossus II

Not as a famous giant long ago
With monstrous limbs that go from land to land,
But at our sunny harbor shall now stand
A mighty woman with a torch to show
Lightning in prison off, who all with no
Past to brag of shall look to. In its hand
Glows light for all, and its look shall command
This airy harbor that twins flank. And so,
“Hold on to all your pomp and glory old!”
Its lips say without sound. “But bring your poor,
Your many who want to start again, bold,
Your trash trod down upon, running from war,
All who storms toss, up to this door of gold.
I lift my lamp to this bright, shining door!”

Circling fans

Circling and squaring. Dichotomous? Not totally. Squaring is growing, taking an input and forcing it to rapidly grow. From a straight path, you can form a big diamond, which is just a familiar polygon standing on a point.

But if you start with a small input, squaring will shrink it. You can go on shrinking until it’s just honing on on nothing at all, as if it was spiralling towards its origin.

But both squaring and circling sport a common trait. It’s not that both do similar things; it’s that you can think of both as abstractions. 2-D forms, impossibly thin and insubstantial, but our 3-D world can’t hurt it. Our bias, our assumptions, our not knowing what “famous” should signify…nothing can touch such functions.

But though squaring allows things to grow, circling is only skirting around. Not growing, not shrinking, just turning. And though you turn, you cannot go in.