The Day I Left Chicago by Michael H. Brownstein


Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American  Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, After Hours, and others. He has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell (White Knuckle Press, 2013). His book, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).





The Day I Left Chicago


That evening a snapping turtle with attitude joined us on the porch

and, as shadows placed daylight on the back of the shelf, two toads

hopped against the edge of light near the wall.


That was the day I left Chicago,

the day of my wife’s birthday,

the day I drove a moving truck from one home to another.


That morning I walked the green path for the last time,

sat on the bench by the clay carved cliff

and watched a scattering of birds fly against a backdrop of sky and lake.

One sky blue line cut the lake in two

and one white scar connected the clouds.

The sun began to rise, slowly, the sky reddened like eyes too long on a task, 

and the clouds framed themselves in a bath of pink.

The purple horizon lightened its skin.

Every bird found a rock or a branch.

We watched together.


Later the truck and I crossed the Mississippi at sunset,

the clouds on fire, the sky, the forest, the river,

and the highway narrowed and I could not turn to watch.



Michael H. Brownstein