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poetry Chicago Columbaria

A native of Chicago, the poet Philip C. Kolin laments how the City of Broad Shoulders has become a death trap for the young.

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Chicago Columbaria

By Philip C. Kolin

An epidemic of bullets
on the Southside, children

being shot or shot at.
These sons and daughters of color

fade into stiff shadows,
laid out on cold porcelain  slabs.

Chicago columbaria,
morgue capital

of a nation at war with itself.
Streets lit with red and blue

whirling lights; sirens keening
obituaries every hour.

Firefighters and cops
have become death's midwives,

delivering this generation of woes
on broken gurneys to the embalmers,

their only memorial a name
on a cross carried by parents,

walking tombstones
in this Urban Dolorosa.

Chicago, city of childless mothers.
Christ weeps under the El

for all those women whose
breasts will never again nurse a child ,

for the birth canal has become
the gateway to death's scroll.

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits the Southern Quarterly. His two most recent poetry collections are Emmett Till in Different States: Poems (Chicago: Third World Press, 2015) and Benedict's Daughter: Poems (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications/Wipf and Stock, 2017).