Or Maybe Like This, Carl

6 Feb

     BUTT Freezer for the World,
     Slush Maker, Stacker of Snow,
     Player with Wind chills and the Nation’s Ice Box;
     Stormy, frigid, squalling,
     City of the Big Shovels:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive
     helpless against the winds of Lake Michigan.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen backs bent under the weight of a shovel
     laden with wet snow.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen frost-bitten noses
     and chapped lips.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with 700 billion pounds
     of accumulation in twenty-four hours.
Flinging snow into the Chicago River and piling it high
     as skyscrapers, here is an awesome Yeti set vivid against the
     tepid soft cities;

Fierce as a snowthunder, at once clamorous and silent, cunning
     as a flurry pitted against the month of May,
          Freezing, thawing, refreezing,
Under the snow, frost all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of multiple layers laughing as
   a midwestern Winter laughs,
Laughing even as a naïve Southerner who has
     never seen our Snowpocalypse, our Snowmageddon,
Bragging and laughing that under his wool sweater is the pulse,
     and under his thermal undershirt the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, raspy, brawling laughter of
     Winter, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Butt
     Freezer, Slush Maker, Stacker of Snow, Player with
     Wind chills and the Ice Box to the Nation.

34 Responses to “Or Maybe Like This, Carl”

  1. sledpress February 6, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Any poem that starts with the word “Butt” is in the running to be a winner.

    I used to say that my cat came in on little fog feet…

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:01 am #

      Again, my husband says: That Sledpress is funny.

      Girlfriend! Back off my man. 😉

      • sledpress February 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

        My goodness! I meant nothing by it.

      • jenny February 10, 2011 at 7:38 am #

        Sled, you know I’m joking, right?

  2. Paul Costopoulos February 6, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Another poem mentioning snow. Canadians can sympathise with your plight.

    François VILLON (1431-?)

    Ballade des Dames du temps jadis
    Dites-moi où, n’en quel pays,
    Est Flora la belle Romaine,
    Archipiades, ne Thaïs,
    Qui fut sa cousine germaine,
    Echo, parlant quant bruit on mène
    Dessus rivière ou sur étang,
    Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine ?
    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan ?

    Où est la très sage Héloïs,
    Pour qui fut châtré et puis moine
    Pierre Esbaillart à Saint-Denis ?
    Pour son amour eut cette essoine.
    Semblablement, où est la roine
    Qui commanda que Buridan
    Fût jeté en un sac en Seine ?
    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan ?

    La roine Blanche comme un lis
    Qui chantait à voix de sirène,
    Berthe au grand pied, Bietrix, Aliz,
    Haramburgis qui tint le Maine,
    Et Jeanne, la bonne Lorraine
    Qu’Anglais brûlèrent à Rouen ;
    Où sont-ils, où, Vierge souvraine ?
    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan ?

    Prince, n’enquerrez de semaine
    Où elles sont, ni de cet an,
    Que ce refrain ne vous remaine :
    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan ?

    • sledpress February 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      Ah Jeanne. My first and noblest ideal. Les neiges d’antan, ils sont les eaux d’aujourd’hui, ces sont dans our blood and bones, nothing is forgotten. Apologies a M. Villon.

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:01 am #

      Working on my response, Paul…

    • jenny February 8, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      @Paul (and M. Villon):

      Flora est morte; Héloïs: disparue;
      Mais les neiges, nous en avons de plus en plus!

      Les neiges d’aujourd’hui et les neiges d’antan,
      Mais où, mon ami, où est le printemps?

      • Paul Costopoulos February 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

        “Mais où est le printemps?” Just around the bend, Jenny, just around the bend. Dans 5 semaines nous serons aux ides de mars et le 20, c’est le printemps…though Easter is rather late this year. However two hedgehogs out of three announced an early spring.
        Smile, il y a de l’espoir.

      • jenny February 9, 2011 at 6:35 am #

        I’m holding that thought, Paul. Thanks.

  3. Philippe February 6, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    A brilliant parody.

    Carl would be proud.

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:03 am #

      It’s like this, Philippe: It’s winter and really boring here and peas don’t grow this time of year, so I have loads of time to goof around.

  4. Cheri February 6, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I read this poem aloud to Judge Blah this morning (the highest honor I can bestow on any piece of writing) and amazingly, he listened.

    It is spring here at the Rancho today, the temperature expected to be 70.

    But then again, our mortgage and property taxes refect this luxury.

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:06 am #

      Hmmm…generally, when introducing myself to a judge, I do not begin with the word “butt”.

      Enjoy the weather. Thanks for the honor.

  5. dafna February 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    thank you jenny!

    “snowpocalypse” indeed.
    getting ready for no place to go (in case of loss of power), the exact word i used when packing our bags were; ” j. (son) you will tell this story to your children, the day your mother prepared for the (snow) apocalypse”.

    wish i had a picture to share, the plowed mounds are how tall? 8-10 feet? and the hits keep coming – as soon as the windows are cleared off the car, they are covered again.

    back home and under blankets 🙂

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:13 am #

      Dafna, I’m turning into one of those little old ladies who’s cold all the time, hunched over a cup of hot tea, wearing a scarves even indoors…it’s humiliating.

  6. Thomas Stazyk February 7, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    A vast improvement over the original. Now if you could come up with an alternative to cat feet!

    Hope you are weathering the storm well!

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 7:16 am #

      Tom, for an improvement on cat feet, see the Sledpress comment above. 🙂

      Hanging in. Thanks.

      • sledpress February 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

        Nothing can improve on cat feet!

  7. Man of Roma February 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Dear Jenny,

    I found this poem astounding. Bravissima.

    By Carl – excuse my ignorance – you mean Carl Sandburg? This piece of literature you wrote has power and rather reminds me of Walt Whitman (I read only a few things by Sandburg), one of my favourite American poets I used to read and read for a long time.

    And let me say you people out there have guts. Flooded by mountains of snow, noses and faces bitten, and chanting like that is no common stuff.

    • jenny February 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm #


      You are astounded by Carl Sandburg, not by me.

      This is just a light-hearted parody of his iconic poem about Chicago, by that name. Easy to find by googling.

      I (it’s an element of my provincialism) imagined that everybody knew the poem, and that it was not necessary to give Mr. Sandburg credit directly.

      A parody. Just a parody, prompted by our awe-inspiring weather this week.

      • Man of Roma February 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

        Dear Jenny, it doesn’t really matter. I lived it as if you wrote it, and had shivers, not due to icy weather images. I’m still under the effect of it. I am sensitive to literature especially when I know who is writing. And if you may be provincial – why, you are American, most of your readers are also – I btw am too, along with being a moron.

      • jenny February 9, 2011 at 6:49 am #

        I’m also a moron, Roma.

        Regarding being a moron, to paraphrase Sir Andrew (slightly), speaking of Sir Toby: You do it with a better grace, but I do it more natural.


  8. Artswebshow February 8, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    From the look of the picture, that is quite a storm.
    I like the interesting train of thought in this poem.
    Good one

    • jenny February 9, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      Snowstorms–it’s something we know how to do here in Chicity.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  9. Cyberquill February 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    From the look of a picture, I thought this was another post in the Jenny-in-Russia series.

    I haven’t read the poem. I hate poems.

    • Cyberquill February 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      Oops. I messed up. Being from Vienna, SA (Siberia), I’m bad with articles. Please allow me to rephrase:

      From look of picture, I thought this was another post in Jenny-in-Russia series.

      I haven’t read poem. I hate poems.

      Yep, that’s good. Feels more natural.

      • jenny February 9, 2011 at 6:40 am #

        Oh, Sighberquill. You don’t like poetry.

        But this was an essay.

      • Cyberquill February 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

        Strictly speaking, every utterance is an essay, for with every utterance, written or otherwise, one essays to communicate something. On this reading, screaming “Ouch!” is an essay.

  10. Paul Costopoulos February 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Cyber must have gotten his quill from that fairy in the Sleeping Beauty tale.

    • Cyberquill February 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      Sleeping Beaut..?? Ah, Spyashchaya Krasavitsa! Da!

      • jenny February 10, 2011 at 7:41 am #

        CQ: For getting with the Russian program: Spaseebochki.

    • jenny February 10, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      She who approaches the spinning wheel gets pricked.

      • Cyberquill February 10, 2011 at 11:03 am #

        No worries. This is a no spin zone.

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