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Poem: “Go”



By Patrick T. Reardon

In remembrance of Maggie Roche, Ben Scheinkopf,

George Kresovich and David Reardon



Right onto Cermak from Harlem

to go west, listening

to the dead singer’s song from

when she was young, from

when I was young

when I first heard it.


Manuscripts are completed with

no chance to edit.



Left onto Mannheim,

the intersection I drove through

on the way back

to the Notre Dame girl’s family

when I was young, untouched,

when she was young,

when we never knew each other,

not then or now,

our parents childhood friends,

the intersection George and I

drove through on the way

to go to the barbecue,

when we were young and

George was alive,

singing together “Twist and Shout”

with the Beatles

when they were young

and all of them alive.


At the McDonald’s,

just before the tracks,

on the way to the table

where one sister and two brothers wait,

each old now, even the baby

who was born in the years

when I first heard the dead singer’s song

with her sister

about a guy named George

who could go for her,

seductive reasoning.


I could have gone for her.


South on California from Evanston,

past the barber shop

where Ben, out of Auschwitz,

cut my hair the last time

when he was 97, died

when he was 98,

his wife Emily talking still

—— let my people go ——

and I remember interviewing him

about Mayor Harold Washington,

dodging smashing-hate for a second term,

when I still worked for the Tribune,

when Ben was more than forty years

from the camp

where everyone in his family

had to go to be slain

except a brother (they shared bread)

who went to Israel later,

and Ben’s touch was gentle,

in his fingers, I was the skull of someone

who would die, caressed.


Inside the mother whale, he

was trapped, swallowed,

lodged. She was a small

whale. He was crammed,

muscled up against her

fervid spleen, contracted

there even more when

she gave her ghost up,

and, years later, pain too

great, he cut his way out

to sea depths where he

drowned in freedom.


Near the table

where two brothers and a sister met me,

the short woman

among the many short restaurant workers,

looking up, asked me if I had been taller

when I was younger,

and I claimed, not knowing,

that I had not lost any height

when I was now getting to

the end of my sixties

because of basketball

and the chiropractor stretching me,

jarringly popping my back,

when each visit was near its end,

and she smiled, her eyes to mine,

a companion in the years and the world,

and I complimented her on the restaurant art,

envious of her family there

— all the workers of the same blood

or from the same village —

and turned to go back

to my superficial table.


The father swaggered his petty kingdom,

looking neither right nor left

for fear.

Down West End toward Leamington

on the recess playground street,

yellow-paint wood police horses,

where I ran for the long pass

into John Reiter’s teeth,

scalp sliced, both bleeding

as the nuns called,

blood dripped on the way to the office

on the Blacktop,

bleached gray by wear and sun,

where cars parked Sundays,

where tall boys played basketball,

where we would go to play slapball

(closed fist onto solid rubber ball)

and slide into base

in our gray work pants

on the gray asphalt

getting tiny stars of broken glass

embedded in the skin of our hands,

that, mornings, sparkled,

white, green and brown,

in the slant sun,

a constellation of city grit to awe Solomon


Carved into the roof of the sky, words

of sacred wind spinning since the world began

and, in the whirl, listen to the human howl.



North on Tulley

past the house my brother lived

where I wouldn’t go — after — to the back

where the sound of his self shot rippled

the air thick with rain snow,

where his brain blood stained

the sidewalk and grass,

hosed off, sacredly,

by a nephew and a brother-in-law,

priests of our sad song,

family at the world’s wide table.


The brother voted with his gun.

He marked his ballot with a bullet hole

and his blood on the backyard lawn.


Patrick T. Reardon



This poem originally appeared at UCity Review on 11.27.19.





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