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  • Joseph S. Pete

Old Town

Old Town

In Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood,

under the iron-wrought arches,

I accompanied my sullen father

to the dark improv theater,

the dank basement comedy club,

the genteel brunch place,

the Mediterranean restaurant

with some cutesy name like Aesop’s Tables,

and so on.

After my father passed,

I continued to migrate there,

like a V-shaped flock of geese

directed blindly by instinct.

The grave magistrate was no longer around

to judge me on those leisurely weekend days,

but his well-worn habits lived on with me.

The Old Town neighborhood I most associated

with those father-son strolls,

and aspiring comics trying to foist handbills

on passing pedestrians

to pay their dues while waiting

for their turn on stage,

was changing parcel by parcel, storefront by storefront.

The streetscape seemed slicker, glassier

with new infill condos and fusion restaurants

with sleek leather booths, Edison lights, $9 IPAs

and apps like buffalo cauliflower and ahi tuna

that were abbreviated to apps.

It would always be Old Town,

but it would not always be old,

no matter how silhouetted the sidewalks

with the shadows of memories.

—Joseph S. Pete


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