Tag Archives: neighborhoods

Chicago Writers & Poets: A Poem by Mary Gray Kaye




Here’s another installment of Chicago Stories’ feature, Chicago Writers & Poets.

   Our writer this month is Mary Gray Kaye. Mary writes as a member of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance.



Little mindsets
In our country
Little mindsets
          filled with tickytack
Little mindsets
Fill the sidewalks
Static mindsets
          all the same

There’s a red one
And a blue one
And a  right one
          and a  leftish one
And they’re all made
Out of tickytack
And they all smell
          just the same

And the people
With their mindsets
Always plugged in-
          to Giant teletubes
So they stare at
Glowing boxes
Where what comes out
          is the same

There are poor folks
And some rich dudes
And some  multi-
          figure millionaires
But they’re all bound
Up with tickytack
And they all sound
          just the same

And they all will
Carry  banners
As they holler at 
          their antagonists
And they”ll bring
Little babies
Who will learn from
          moms and dads

Learn to holler
Clever slogns
They’ll believe in
          ’til the day they die
While they’ll stand on
Little boxes
But they’ll still sound
          just the same

Soon the small boys
Become big boys
And the  small girls
          try to grow up too
While the big shots
On the top tier
Fill their heads with
          sticky glue

So they settle 
Into blue states
Or they fall in-
          to the redder states
And they stick with
Gooey tickytack
And it all just
          stays the same

copyright mary gray kaye
Inspired by Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds



If you’d seen him on the street, your mind would see just another Chicago street guy. Wrinkled suit from Good Will, scarred face, do-it-yourself marcelled hair. Stonewall Edwards was not an important man in the accepted sense. I didn’t know  him personally, but as a staffer for the city’s human relations commission,  I saw him  at many marches in the sixties.  If you’d just happened on him, you would not have said there goes a brave man, but he was brave. I think a brave man is one who steps  up when he doesn’t have to, when the danger in stepping up far outweighs the benefit to him. That was Stonewall; that’s Continue reading

Another Day on the #22 Clark Street Bus

The #22 Clark Street bus is Chicago with its guard down. For my money, it’s the most unpretentious ride you can take north and south. Well, there are others, say the #36 Broadway and maybe the #156 Milwaukee, where you can get a good show for your $2.25. I got a great show one day last spring.

This little lady with a face like the map of Ireland and the clothes of the homeless gets on at the  Continue reading

The Sun Always Shines on the Gold Coast

The Chicago winter wind freezes my smile, breaks it into a hundred shards on the ground.  Squints my eyes against the flying whatevers it pries from the gutters. I’ve got time on my hands on the Gold Coast and the wind feels milder here.

 The elegant, youngish couple glides by heads down, evading my ordinary eyes, kidnapping my attention. The woman, brunette luxury, walks in mink matching her hair. He invites my envy in long leather shearling.  Thirty thousand in wardrobe between them. They are levitated by their imagined importance. But I know they’re only dressed up. They’re not the clout. Not on the Gold Coast.

 Not the real clout, the real money, the serious, old coin. The fixers. The amassers of power, collectors of the lives of anybody they please, hide 50 stories up. The McCormicks. The Fields. The Rockefeller progeny gaze down at the traffic, at the people who go to work.

 They puzzle why anybody would do that. Go to work? They know of no McCormick, Field or Rockefeller who has ever worked, save the founder. Having no relation, parent or cousin, who has ever had a job. In this they share common ground with the permanent poor. Just as dependent, just as unprepared, just as deprived. But they, and we, know they alone have the “screw-you money.”

 The brilliant Gold Coast sun bursts from a sapphire sky. Lighting the high-rise mountain peaks. Warming the penthouses. Casting blue-gray shadows on the storefront foothills.

 The sun always shines upon the right kind on the Gold Coast.