There’s a 1993 film called “Come or Go Chicago”
A frivolous comedy starring a comedian Freddy Silva.
I can’t help but wonder what that saying means,
Chicago, the birth place of the skyscraper
The throngs of Nobel Prize winners,
A university that demands respect,
And the place of the doomsday clock.
Evidence that life comes and goes.
I remember that charming man Freddy,
Who would never have imagined being in Chicago.
A reminder that we are all connected
By touch or by third eye.
I wonder how Freddy saw Chicago,
Sullivan’s industry or a poetic establishment.
Or perhaps just a place where black and white mix,
As in a city’s race relations, or poems in print.
Freddy would pitch in pun after pun,
Making a different kind of sentence, life,
Easier by wit. I hear Freddie
Singing from his grave “Come or go Chicago”
His expression a poem in itself,
How children all over Sri Lanka,
Know this witty saying, before they strike 10 years old.
A world that a child doesn’t comprehend,
Floating big words, like eloping kites.
“Come or go Chicago”, an exclamation,
Two worlds that would never interface,
Coming together. The slums of Sri Lanka
And the high risers of Chicago. The nebulas
Of poems in the making and the stars
They become, in flicker and glow. Here children,
Look up at the sky, searching for the Freddy star,
The man who could make life lighter
Than a wind-powered feather.
Freddie comes and goes on the big screen
And the small, a tiny man with a big presence,
The face of Chicago in Sri Lanka.
A legacy smaller than a city and yet
What beautifies countless faces with a smile,
Just like Chicago, boasts a rich tradition of poems,
A reputation that transcends the urban blues.
Poems that come and go, and their beauty
That remains long after, the last rites are given.
A man thousands of miles away from Chicago,
Who made the nomadic heart,
As nostalgic as a dead poets society.
Those poetic skyscrapers, the tall ones
That are less invisible, carrying
The name of a few immortal ones,
The poets that made Chicago, Chicago,
And a doomsday clock that can only erase a heartbeat,
But never a poem, how ineffaceable some things are.
A man called Freddy Silva,
And collections of poems in a city,
The die-hard beacons of two ends of the world.
Both vying for the honor of being still alive.
Chicago will always remain urban,
Freddy will always remain a goof,
And poems will always stay true to themselves,
The blue eyed lads, poems are,
The naïve beauty of the type of hope
That doesn’t get lost. A dot in a blue dot.
A clock reminding us all of a full stop,
And the crafts of poets, humanizing
Every aspect of life. The feelings that rarely
Get trapped inside the chambers of the human heart.
The feelings that come and go
Like Freddy did and like poems do,
And stagnant places that we keep on returning to,
To feel in our bones, our humanness,
To fossilize the remains of the hour.
Chicago, that city of poems,
The pebbles that became boulders,
Like the drift of evolution,
And that man Freddy, or an urban center,
Where poems become giga bytes,
And poets become immortal, and the eye, turns to a portal,
Between this world and a world
Inside us, made richer by poems,
A staple of yesteryear,
Fighting a slow extinction.
And Chicago holding its fort
Amidst uprooting tornados,
The poem that enriches the catacombs,
Of a palpitation chamber, the fossils
That remain at the very end. The cages
We transcend by reading a verse or two.
Invictus, what means unconquered,
Like Chicago is, the old poem,
Flying her kite, and a kite runner sitting
Six feet below in a grave, and the eyes
That look skyward, as they slowly
Unstring the kites, inside the boundless meadows,
Of the third eye, where they learn
The art of roaming far and wide.
The limitlessness of imagination,
The man called Freddy and a city called Chicago,
And a hackneyed phrase that brings them together.
A phrase that has no meaning,
And yet sculpts a moment of lightness.
How sometimes we don’t need a reason to disentangle,
To be like “Come or go Chicago”,
A useless saying we all recite, like a poem,
When we all become airborne,
The kites, poems are, and the lively birds they become,
Colored paper that turns to sculptures of feathers.
The transposition of beauty,
Inside the human mind.
When the talus bone is impaled
When the mind turns to Achilles,
That heel inside our minds,
That enfeeble us, and yet empower us,
With the plumage and wingspan,
Of creatures and verses,
Prone to flight.