Drawings are interesting poetry is not. Bum Town Is Tony Fitzpatrick S Allegorical Tale Of A Journey Through Chicago With The Ghost Of His Father Revisiting The Places That Have Changed, Remembering The Uncle Who Died As A Boy Trying To Hop A Freight During The Great Depressions, Praising And Dispraising A City Of Dreams And Despair Poetry and drawings by Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick He makes it OK for big scary guys to draw and write touching poetry from the heart And he does it well This work makes me think of the lives and work of my mother s side of the family from the south side of Chicago and their hustle for survival. Tony Fitzpatrick s book length poem Bum Town is a tough but deeply moving ode to Fitzpatrick s father and the disappearing Chicago they once knew From the very first stanza From 79th Street Southworks flexed its Muscle of light, An infinite halo Of orange and white Like they had captured The sun In four steel walls , Fitzpatrick sets the tone his poem will not be about the Chicago of skyscrapers and celebrities and victory, but of railroad tracks and steel mills and rubbled lots, of death and the commercial gaudiness of Western Avenue and local hero Tony Zale losing his title bout to Graziano at the Stadium on one should have been magic evening in 1946.Much of the narrative consists of Fitzpatrick s memories of driving around with his father to Montrose Harbor where the smelt are a whir of silvery light As indecipherable as The tails of Comets , to a butcher shop at 18th and Halsted and the garlic smell which overpowers the car s interior, past the Stadium and the site of Zale s defeat, and to Mt Olivet Cemetery, where Fitzpatrick s Uncle Ray a childhood victim of a train accident is buried and haunts Mr Fitzpatrick s waking hours Their meanderings are set to a soundtrack of Bob Elson announcing White Sox games and Mr Fitzpatrick s memories of and reflections on the city.The verse is written in short and crisp lines which cleanly present the vivid descriptions of the city passing by I could feel theMurderous rumbleOf my Dad s OldsmobileWeaving in and out ofNight and day trafficLike a gull in the wind.He d tool up Western AvenueAnd remind me that theGreen Hornet streetcarsOnce rode the longest lineIn the world,Right here.And Western would trot outIts goods grocer asAnd tarted up car lotsLit up like the CarnivalOr Saint Rocco s day,Used cars and short skirts,Hot dog joints and the union hall.Then like nowWestern looks like the girlWith too much eye shadow.In the scrap lots,Bottle gangs of invisible menDrank pints of Mad dogWhile burning garbageKept them warm They seemed toDisappear into the smokeOne orange emberAt a time.Like human coalThe city shovelsInto itself.Although the tone is elegaic, Fitzpatrick acknowledges that the past isn t really gone his father lives on in Fitzpatrick s memory, and the old neighborhoods, while no longer familiar to him, live on for their new and very different residents The past is present, as it were Fitzpatrick is, of course, also a very accomplished artist, and the verses are accompanied by his wonderful pencil sketched collages, with the images and the verses complementing each other perfectly.Bum Town is a wonderful work of art, one which deserves a place on the shelf of great Chicago literature alongside Algren s Chicago City on the Make, Bellow s The Adventures of Augie March, Farrell s Studs Lonigan triology, the poems of Carl Sandburg, the stories of Stuart Dybek and the newspaper columns of Mike Royko It s that good I can t recommend it highly. Tony Fitzpatrick is a local artist poet This poem and the accompanying etchings are his love song to Chicago and an ode to his dead father The poem takes the form of memories of car rides he took with his dad, who was a burial vault salesman For every Chicago neighborhood they drove through, the dad had a story to tell Bittersweet for me, as my father used to do the same thing.
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- 45 pages
- Bum Town
- Tony Fitzpatrick
- 14 September 2019 Tony Fitzpatrick