Chapter 12

Real Poetry from a Real Poet

Fri Jun 06, 2003 at 08:07:35 PM EST

 
The Pool Players
Seven at the Golden Shovel
 
We real cool. We
Left school, We
 
Lurk late, We
Strike straight. We
 
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
 
Jazz June. We
Die soon.
 
-Gwendolyn Brooks, The Bean Eaters
Harper, New York, 1960 ISB#9781258269692

 



The boss lady comes into my cube this morning, looks at what I'm typing. “Oh! An email! Good! I was hoping you weren't entering that data, the clerical can do that. Why don't you go on down to the library, I'd like to get this done before the boss guy gets back.”
Boss Guy is the second in command, and this is his baby. “Boss Man, PhD” is head of a national organization this year that is very loosely related to my employer's business, and it needs cash to fund travel for an annual conference that we are hosting.
My job, should I decide to accept it, and even if I shouldn't, is to find people willing to part with huge sums of cash so we can ferry folks from all over the US, every single state, to this shindig that they do every year, and this year Illinois is in charge.
So Boss Lady says “you should start now before it starts raining.” Indeed - I pull up the Weather Channel's radar on my PC and it looks like the rain is at the Missouri-Illinois border.
So I fold up a few sheets of paper and start walking to the Illinois State Library, who has this fatassed book with ten thousand funding organizations in it. Four inches thick.
It's going faster since Boss Man says to limit them to orgs with assets over fifty million.
I call home, just to make sure daughter Patty hasn't left with my cell phone, and she has. So I call the cell and tell her to bring it.
It's raining.
So I go see Coworker Guy, who Boss Lady told me had volunteered to give me a ride. He grimaces. He didn't actually volunteer per se... but he'll give me a ride anyway.
As we're on our way out, an attractive woman says to him, “Hi, Trouble!”
“Trouble?” I ask. He tells me a story of golf clubs, shots of alcohol, and whipped cream. Seems this lady used to work at a mental health center and was good friends with the inmates...
But I'm not going there. It's all heresay to me.
He remarks as we pass the Capitol, across second street from the Library, that the lazy cops haven't removed the “no parking” bags from the meters - Congress was in session yesterday. Every one of the “no parking” bags has a car parked there.
I thank Co-worker Guy and walk up to sign in. Fearing “Teh Terrorists,” they've locked all the doors except the one across the street not from the Capitol, but across Monroe from the bars.
Your tax dollars at work.
They have an unarmed guard at the only unlocked door to keep the terrorists out. You have to show ID and sign in.
Only today, the guard doesn't seem to care if anybody signs in. And there are state cops, none of whom have their guns. Instead, they have flags. And a whole lot of chairs lined up. I walk past the cops, long hair flopping, and take the elevator up to the second floor where the Big Fucking Book lives.
As I take the forty pound book off the shelf I ask the librarian what's up. They're renaming the Library.
As I'm doing my research, a gillion people come in noisily. Among this gillion people are the Illinois Secretary of State, most of its Congress, and its state Senators.
And the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren of Gwendolyn Brooks, Illinois' Poet Laureate from 1968 until her death in 2000.
As I'm doing research, people give speeches. The late Ms. Brooks' daughter gives a speech about what it was like to have your mom as the state's Poet Laureate. A preacher gives a sermon and makes a prayer. A gospel choir sings, including a very, very excellent and soulful rendition of Amazing Grace.
The Illinois State Library is heretofore to be known as the Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois State Library. A plaque now graces the (locked) front entrance across from the Capitol.
So I'm thinking, they're not even asking anyone for ID today, nobody's armed, most of the state's legislators and its #3 in the death chain is here (he's Governor if the Governor and Vice Governor do a murder-suicide), it would be a lovely day for Al Kaida and his Arab friends to show up... or Timmie McVeigh's friends. One good sized bomb would have taken out half of Illinois' government, and all of its last Poet Laureate's family. Not to mention Illinois' most valuable resource, as far as I'm concerned. Me, I mean. I was glad Al and Timmie's friends stayed away.
But it's OK to inconvenience airline passengers, just don't piss of any rich people. No matter how absurdly stupid the situation becomes.
Fucking shindig must have cost a few million dollars.
Did I mention that Illinois has severe budget problems, is laying off workers and cutting services to the poor and other residents?
But it's Friday!! YAY! I'm going back downtown in about ten minutes and find some music...

 

 


Chapter 11
Index
Chapter 13

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