Larry’s Chicago Poems


Going to Glory

Thunderbirds return.

English: USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Maneu...

English: USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Maneuver at Biggs Army Air Field, Amigo AirSho, El Paso TX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Air Show orgy,

petroleum spew and posturing,

back to

thrill the masses,

recruit hormonal heroes

for the greater glory of



Iraq vets dive

under tables and chairs.

Night shifters jolt awake.

Parents amuse toddlers

shaken from naps.

Radar blown,

gulls, cormorants, terns flail.

Residents gawk, in awe,

in terror.



Can’t happen here.

Oh, in Michigan,


Wasn’t there one in

Appleton? Oshkosh?

Three a summer somewhere


Can’t happen here.


It’s over water, don’t worry,

only the pilot dies.

Stealth fighters u-turn to base

low over inland millions,

metropolis quakes

hands over ears.


Can’t happen here.

by Larry Ambrose


The Bluebird

Hours transporting dreams never-before-dreamed

and hopes for the maybe-possible,

end in clouds of steam and coal smoke as the Wabash Bluebird

chugs to a stop,

returning the 10 year-old child from the City of Big Shoulders

to his home in the Corn Belt.

His mind swims with the big city memory of the real league-of-their-own girls,

staying with his aunt Agnes in the back of her antique shop, and

drifting off to the rumble of Cottage Grove Green Hornets.


He brings home the awe of a big world

to his little town,

the big world of traffic, sirens, paddy wagons

and their wonderful, lethal exhaust,

of neighborliness painted by the denizens

of a next-door bar,

who tell him stories of the city,

with a sandwich and a coke,

just because he’s a kid,

and mesmerized.


The Bluebird becomes ghostly as he watches it depart for the South.

Could perhaps the world be an immense, never-ending adventure?

Then for the first time the child sees his home town

clearly, a place where everyone knows everyone’s business,

and he sees the metropolis, a place

where every day excites curiosity, creativity.

where the heart cares about more than its  next beat.


An ever-stronger force tugs the boy toward

where he needs to be.

Brave boy, but maybe brave

only until the leaving closes in.

Yes, frightened is what you are

when you first awake.


Ripples of heat radiate from the crops

for ten more summers,

and ten more winters shroud the remains in snow.

At the final leaving,

the golden harvest of the eleventh season

set the wedding car aglow

with its sunny halo

all the way on the interstate to Windy City.

And all else fades to gray.

by Larry Ambrose


Urban Rider

My aging legs and I approach the Red Line EL.

How steep are the steps tonight?

How close is the train?

Hurrying, not fleeing, I case the street characters.

Quick through the turn-style,

I pull myself up the steps.


The Red Line poses its promised questions 

Too full?

Too empty?

Cubs game tonight?

Scary dudes?

Weirdoes . . .?


On the platform, the train, three stops away,

And a quarter-inch high,

Translates to 4 minutes distant

I check my fellow travelers –

Join them under the heat lamps?

From the look of them, No.


Like Wild Bill Hickock woul 

Sit back against the wall

In the saloon.

So he could see everybody’s eyes

Until one night he forgot.


I think of Bill tonight.

I enter the train car 

Like Wild Bill did the saloon ,

I study the faces, the layout, the attitude.

But soon forget about Bill

And scout a quiet corner to read

My back to them, offering easy pickins’.


Am I imagining the disembodied voices getting louder behind me 

I admonish myself

 “Don’t jump at every sound.”

I can almost feel them gathering now 

Surrounding me, mocking, admiring my stuff, leering,

“Hey how much did you pay for that?”


Then the shouting voice pierces and startles 

I struggle to read.


Look up.


Look up.


That voice 

So close

I don’t look.

Got to be cool, Urban Rider.

Show no anxiety.

Ears open.


At Addison, the car is filling. 

The volume of that shouting voice

 Drowns out everyone in the car, and I look.

 It thunders from the 70-something black man,

“You aint sat down since you got on!”

 “Who? Me?” the tall young tourist turns.


“You are a patient man! Standing there the whole ride.”

“How tall are you?” “Six-five,” is the edgy answer.

“How old a young man are you.” “Nineteen,” eyes darting.

My stop is next and I don’t want  

To think of what came

Of that little drama.

The subway escalator climbs to the street ,

To brighter lights, wider avenues and broader minds.

In the movie of my mind that I carry forth,

They, the old man and boy, embrace,

The young man bent almost double 

To reach the old man’s arms.


Setting the example for the urban riders,

Surprising even themselves to learn

They have taken a step to a higher place.

I return in reflection to the EL – and look back,

Fooled and surprised, knowing

Most anything can happen.

 by Larry Ambrose


Rhyme of the Fearsome Scuttlejack

T’was lurkish, and the wiffly flooves

Did stretch the ensigns toward the blay.

The Mimsy rode the rounding loofs,

And the good skiff wahfed onway.


Be sure to mind the smarms my boys,

The troughs that trap, the swells that flip!

Beware the carpful Scuttlejack, and fight

The awrful Floundership.


We held our ruddle fast in hand,

The tithey deep our fullsome foe.

Then raggled we upon the sea,

And sloggened splays did blow.


As crew we verved, and as we plied,

The Scuttlejack, aboil, appeared.

And orgled forth, it us soon spied,

Overpowering, as we’d feared.


With sudden sputt the Mimsy cut

Toward haven, dock and rest.

The Scuttlejack was on its back

For we had passed the test.   


Oh, how we scowed into our slip

We cried Hip Hip Hooray!

We live to wahf another ship,

Though shan’t forget this day!


T’was lurkish and the wiffly flooves

Did stretch the ensigns toward the blay.

The Mimsy rode the rounding loofs,

And the good skiff wahfed onway.

 by Larry Ambrose 

Inspired by “The Jabberwock”, from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll.


 White Sox, 2011 

For the Sox a new season,

A renewable fan,

An annual optimist,

 I am a new man.


A gullible fan, who

Forgets last year’s heartbreak,

I am a trusting man,

With a dim fading dream.


Last autumn’s disgust,

Certain moves have been made.

We have a new team,

A slight chance to dream.


Bad moves were made,

Still, we buy season tickets.

We have a new team?

Try to learn the new names.


So I scalp all my tickets,

An annual opportunist,

Forget the new names.

For the Sox, a Cubs season.


 by Larry Ambrose







English: An opposing pass performed by the USA...

English: An opposing pass performed by the USAF Thunderbirds opposing solos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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