The 1st Book of Moses and other things
copyright;2019 Poetry page of L.J.Keslin's www.theusmat.com/index.htm Ejournal,Blog,of Poetry,and Satire,reflecting on seasonal topics as observed in a southside Chicago neighborhood during WWII and beyond in a scroll down format

SPECIAL SEASONAL POEMS AND SATIRE .The title of this poetry page comes from a "nickname" given to me at age 8 when as a student of the now shuttered Immaculate Conception parish church and school I admonished a friend's comment with "It's a sin to tell a lie" who came back with "OK Moses !" which was a nickname that stuck .Also poems about Chicago and the Bridgeport neighborhood and WWII Reflections of living in a Chicago ethnic neighborhood known as Bridgeport 1930's to 1953 during the great depression and the two wars which followed .

Also the changes in traditional Roman Catholic Christmas observance post Vatican 2.Which eliminated a period of mortification during the advent period of fast and abstinence or reducing enphasis on observing feast days such as Immaculate Conception December 8th and the 12th day of Christmas known as the Epiphany January 6th. Which no longer appears on most calendars because of the decision to observe it on a Sunday following Christmas the 25th.
.Likewise link to Satirical essays

The Christmas Trilogy
Christmas Eve, The Tree,and Epiphany (Little Christmas) JAN 6TH

The Christmas Tree

You can't decorate or light the tree till Chirstmas eve mother would exclaim
"Jesus wasn't born till holy Christmas day"
So it was as we strung ,the popcorn and cranberries, on threaded line
But first the lights,testing all the bulbs, to see if they worked fine
Only then could we decorate our tree
With lead icicles that dad would toss with glee
and Silvery garlands and ornaments that grandma gave to me
A sentinel for the season a witness for all to see
Announcing the birth of Christ,
Observing the days of saga yet to be
Circumcision,Epiphany ,the Egypt flight
liturgically recalled
In home's creche site where figurines
with solemnity installed
Those who were missed were seen throughout
or remembered on "Little Christmas"
So the paperboy,the mailman,and others
conclude Epiphany without a doubt
As Three kings passed by a week,
and nobles well upon their way
The tree was still there,
And up till The Holy Family day*
When young Jesus found in temple speaking ,
celebration fleeting ,now.On to some
very serious teaching
as the tree was taken down


Homefront War On News  Chicago's Midway Beacon   Moses Opuses
Satire page of L.J.Keslin's The US Mat.com/  Credit card & Driver License Problems  Cent.Wis. Lakeshore Beacon  

Epiphany On This "Little Christmas"
Once Upon a Time and not too long ago
The Twelfth Night Of Christmas
was celebrated with a ball
From the Day of Babe's Birth
and the 11 thereafter
kith and kin were paid a visit
and friends from far and near
once were paid a call
So on this day I pray
in the spirit that this date recalls
The gifts of kings let thee gain
Be in spirit of joyous days
let the season in bosom to remain
while the days ore year
and beyond it wane
Be thine Blessings Great and misfortunes
thee none befall

What is surprizing is that merchants haven't caught on to using the day to furthur sales.Taking advantage of post "Christmas" sales this writer uses that day to give gifts. For background on Epiphany read Greek Orthodox Archdiocease piece by Rev George Mastrantonis Orthodox Epiphany Festival of Lights

*Note In the old Tridentine Catholic calandar the second Sunday of January was observed as the feast of The Holy Family.

NOTE:It may seem a stretch to blame American Catholic bishops for the increase in the loss of indentification and increasing commercialization of the Christmas season. But when a major segment of the Christian religious community decides to reduce a traditional observance in this case the observance of Epiphany seemingly bowing to the cafeteria culture prevelant in certain Catholic circles that may have been the unintended result. Placing the observance of "Christmas" as a one day event rather than a series of reflections of what the faith is spanning over a longer period of time. In the US that feast day (Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas) which was formally observed on Jan 6th is now observed the first Sunday falling between Jan 2nd and Jan 8th.

The following is an explaination of how the RC's observed Christmas prior to 1960. Prior to the Roman Catholic Reformed Liturgical rite promulgated by the Vatican Council which seems to make a hodge-podge of the early life of Jesus.
   The calandar of liturgical observances (mass) was a recollection which through the gospels followed the life of Christ and goes like this.

Christmas Mass (gospel; birth of Jesus).

The Sunday following Christmas the old liturgy proscribed was "The Sunday within the octave of Christmas" that gospel related the visit to relatives and a prophets warning to Mary .

Today that Sunday is the feast of the Holy Family who's gospel recalls Jesus at age 12 and is out of chronological and liturgical sequence with Epiphany which recalls shortly after the birth of Jesus and the visits of the 3 kings .

New Years was the feast first called Circumcision (term,practice,being dumped) then later named the feast of The Presentation.{NOTE: During WWII there was a popular misconception that the way the Nazis could tell if a male person was a Jew was if that person was circumcized, Catholics (not all) were also circumcized }. This gospel was of the Holy Family following Jewish traditions and practice,then if a Sunday came between Circumcision and Epiphany it was The Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.

On Jan 6th was The Feast of Epiphany ,( or 12th day of Christmas,or 3 Kings Day) no matter what day it fell on and was a holy day of obligation .

That observance is the basis for the exchanging of gifts on Xmas and when in many countries gifts are exchanged.

The Sunday following Epiphany would be the first Sunday after Epiphany,also known as The feast of the Holy Family; gospel Jesus at age 12 and his visit to the temple.

Today Epiphany is the Sunday following New Years .Now it is the feast of the baptism of Jesus,with the gospel of Luke relating the story of John the Baptist baptising Jesus.

The Solemn Latin Midnight Mass Prologue

There was a time we would all face east toward the land where the babe was borne,
then crucified
Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Our tie to days of yore
We would bow and kneel and the bells would ring,
and the censor with would be swung back and forth with its incense
a cleansing odor it would bring
another tie to another time as the host was lifted
for us to wounder and adore
A gift few yet few understand
A symbol of,committment of God made man
not of man eating man as some disclaim
Partaking is a statement of dedication
to serve God and man
An affirmation of committment this rite would bring
Begining with a confession of how we sinned rite begins
as priests and servers prostrate themselves before the altar their sins proclaim
Then references to the prophets before the gospel is read,
Cleanse my heart and lips as thou didst cleanse the lips of Isaias with a burning coal
and why that curious custom of making the sign of the cross with thumb and forefinger is always made
upon the forehead,lips and heart
At the lavabo offering of the gifts, the washing of the hands a prayer is read
I will wash my hands among the innocent as thy high priest Melchisedec blessing of Abraham is said
Such were the ways in those days when Advent was a verb and not a noun

St.Joseph's Day March 19th is celebrated much like St Patricks (Mar 17th)
The Great St Joseph's Day Affair (poem about partys in Chicago's Bridgeport)

(March 19 St Joseph's Day)
Whats that music I hear ? Its comming from over there
From the hall that adjoins the tavern drawn by an exhaust fan
A waltz in polka time played by a four piece band
Its music drifts past the houses and comes acallin down the block
Its The St Joseph's Day Party didn't you hear the talk ?
Inside high above crepe festoons of red and white
bedecked sheet metal ceiling squares thats yellowed by the air
The mood is marked by red carnations the symbol of the fair
made in boutonnieres for each guest to wear
placed on the St Joseph's table stocked with food
And all against the walls on either side
are set wooden folding chairs.
The men sit left the women right but they'll be mixed
like the drinks and pivo(beer) that flows tonight .
Hey! Booms the owners voice that penetrates the fare
Did Vaju get his red carnation ? Adam asks his guest.
Maruska brought O'Brien who wore some green in jest
Hey !Gumba vot you make ? As Adam pumps Carmine's hand
Red carnation, Polish sausage dere, potato salad,ham
Adam and his "Missus" Sophie never treated any coldly.
Casha dance with Mike it seems A romance in sight Sophie beams
As reams of music and of laughter ,and many storys after
warm the memories of the chilled March air
It was a very great Saint Joseph's Day affair

When I wrote this poem I could have placed it in a "Irish" setting but America is diverse. What is not popularly known ,is that St Joseph's Day is probably celebrated by more people than St Patrick's Day. It is a national holyday/holiday for Spain,Poland,France,Italy,Czech Republic,almost all the slavic speaking countries,latin and central America Costa Rica,and every South American country as well as Christian communities in asia who also celebrate the day in similar fashion.
    Whatever your origins are or heritage is a celebration is a celebration where you join in. Such was the case in Bridgeport if its still observed there today is not known but its observance we encourage.
     While it uses accent thats the way the people were .This poem was first self published in a phamplet called Chicago Scene ? 1986 L.J.Keslin and again in the south west side suburban publication The Village View, Chicago edition and again 2/03 in the UK publication of short storys and poetry ABC Tales. For other poems about Bridgeport including "A Bridgeport Ode" what it was like living in the place during WWII soon to be posted,Bridgeport hauntings, WWII,etc please scroll to last pages in this site.

Bridgeport, Depression, September 39, WWII,

  How an "American" neighborhood became "Irish"
" A Proud Queen Courted By Fifty Duchys And Chicago is Her Name."Chicago Couplet...?2003 L.J.Keslin

How a Chicago community various ethnic groups reacted to WWII begining with the effect Hitler's invasion of Poland had on the area. Bridgeport prior to (and even after) WW I probably had one of the highest concentrations of various ethnic churches and parochial schools mainly Catholic and Lutheran in the US. To celebrate this diversity and to challange the Mayor( Richard J) Daley myth of a Irish Neighborhood being created at that time which has persisted into urban legend

A Bridgeport Ode" was published in The New World Catholic newspaper in 1965. One could walk three blocks in any given direction and find one particularly on the areas west end. There were 3 German, one Catholic, two Lutheran,one Catholic Lithuanian, and two very large Catholic Polish edifices and one large Irish On its east end three large Italian, two Croation (Hervati)*,on its south end two large Irish Catholic plus Swedish and German Lutheran into the mix, all operating their own parrish  grammar school and two operating high schools.*Hervat is what "Croations" call themselves in their language

It was here that progenitors came to see
Their hopes their seeds
from small four room cold water flats
with one suit closets
and shared one toilet on every floor
when the oderous to public baths would go
Seeds grow into crowded dreams
blooming in back yard lots
or blossoming on a stoop looking ore the stree
Children by the score screaming down a gangway
as tennants try to sleep
Where T's turned into D's when preceeded by an "h"
or silent when proceeded by an "n" a distinctive English speak
Here ethnic's homes
laid in distinctive zones benchmarked by churches
set in a island of faith and every church
herein mentioned also ran a school
On the north set a "river "running south and west
on the east railroad tracks
On the south paved blocks and yards of Carl's fame
Thus the borders of a homeland where people laid their claim
they set their name in cornice stones
with dates to show achievenemts goal their castle and their dream
Now of beaten brick or weathered wood
a flat of five, or one of nine planked next to a cottage
Bridgeport where Zoning gone awry
urban planning just a scheme and not yet tried
Yet in this place a style, a grace,a neighborhood

There's a family in a city where each knew another in some twenny blocks square
Here timber was felled in an ashphalt place
from a ground swelled in spirit weld to a humble face
A spirit in spires
Exclamation points in American sounds,
Jeweled guideposts set in a pungent crown
Punctuating royalty residing
their treasures abiding in a dutchess confiding to an urban fare
Offering fleets of impressions met kept recalling
by street locations
The Hillock gang and shanty clubs
hydrant showers cascading first loves
Weed battles at "Bubbly Creeek"
Forta July on Aberdeen street
Softball played at tirdysevent street
Hide n go seek twenny sixed n Lowe
Streets, streets, an age of discovery facing dangers flashing yellow glow
Borne within ashphalt halls bred by the Angelus calls
wed in by nine or the strap befalls
Lifes lumber by mighty people culled
Their living ode to the old neighborhood.

A bakery, a Bar, a store, or a shop
One or more on most any block
Ice cream cones a nickle,
candy bars too, a soda, a kite,
a bag of marbles, a balsa glider,
Daddy's beer, a school tablet,
five pencils, or 2 "Jaw Breakers"
and 4 licorice whips,and 3 "Bulls Eyes" or
4 "Hearts" and 3 "Bulls Eyes" or Bubble gum with a baseball card
and 5 penny Valentines is what one nickle bought

Rags O Lying
When times were bad and money was little
A horse and wagon was rented and through the alleys "junkmen" plied
calling "Rags O Lyin" "Rags O lyin" was the cry
A grey old mare
towing a wagon
her master slumps his head a waggen,
Heavy stuff pleanty a draggen
Stuck in street car tracks they lead a parade
while motorman clanks and passengers rave
Clang Clang the trolly demands
but neither notice for horse and man are making plans
The slumping figure in an old golf cap
with flap turned over his cold wind stop
his head's a noddin with horses clop clop
Ponders his pickens blanket for Mary
meat on the table then he smiles
as the mare is heading toward the end of the line
pondering oats everythings fine
A black Ford with red n green lights pulls astride
and the cop shouts out "Pull the damm thing on the side"
But the slumped figure hears not
But for hymns, for his journeys over
The old man who cried Rags O Lying Rags O lyin
Heard no more in the alleyways,
Or down the streets
or in some bay who parked the grey to a fire plug.
And the news is greeted with a pall
for many will miss that special call "Rags O Lyin"

Dumped into vaulted sidewalks
called "zuhdas" beneath the street
once used to be for toilets
for streets were raised six feet
complete poem in the book

Krap games on the sidewalk by alleys corner
neath the old street light
held in that position so you'd know which way to run
when Duke would get a hot streak is when they'd allways come
complete poem in the book

Come hear a tradition let your ears lend submission
to the sound your fathers father sowed
and the memory of the Bells Of Bridgeport shall grow
High above "Our Ladys" brung bim bam, chung a lung
St George's clangs with Immaculate's chimes
with St Bridget and St Barb's rhymes with St Davids and St John's
who combine with St Anthony and All Saints,
then St Jerome,and St Therese,
not the least lets not forget First Trinity, Holy Cross,and on the south, Nativity
An island of churches where ethnic homes
lay in distinctive zones
benchmarked by churches
that serve as a guide urging one try
Where conduct was probed from house to house
through a hanging wash or corner shop
Sounding boards who's calling scores
To work to play
The Angelus and time of day
To home to pray time to wed
succor to death a presence speaks concern
of birthdates and of war
As peoples bronze has so firmly done before
yet heard no more ? 2003,2006 L.J.Keslin all rights reserved

Chicago, History,Bridgeport 1939-53,

A humble but proud Chicago neighborhood originally bounded roughly by Stewart Ave on the east,the meandering south fork of the Chicago river ( known as Bubbly Creek), on the north and portions astride Ashland Ave on the west, and 39th-45th streets comprizing the beginings of the now removed Central Manufacturing District- Chicago Stock Yards on the south. Home to at least 5 Chicago Mayors; Kelly,M. Kennelly, (Boss)R.J. Daley, Bilandic, and R.M.Daley.

Frequently considered an "Irish" neighborhood and while first settled by Irish immigrants was anything but. Did you know that once upon a time in those old buildings built till the 1930's most 2 plus story apartments of 4 rooms shared a toilet on the stair landings ? And even before that vaulted sidewalks is where the toilet was. Thats right people would have to go outside from their aparment go to the sidewalk and take the stairs underneath the sidewalk to do their duty. For poems about July 4th, or a veteran's group honoring a fallen comrade click Veteran's Pages Bridgeport;
How an " American Neighborhood " became "Irish"

During the time of Mayor Richard J Daley the press repeatedly refered to it as an "Irish neighborhood" which it never was.The barometer for this statement is the number of Catholic churches and the ethnic group responsible for their construction in Bridgeport.The Irish for example have no street named after their national heros but the Lithuanians do. Its Lithuanica, which sets  between Green Street and Morgan street. Which is named after two Lithuanian circumnavigtors who's aircraft named Lithunaica was shot down by the Germans prior to WWII 

The myth about it being "Irish"was started for political reasons.And is an interesting American phenomena of changing political "correctness". In the 60s it was simpler for the late mayor who by then had risen in national stature claim he came from an "Irish" neighborhood and was syncopated with the Kennedy Presidential campaign . Indeed his little section was Irish, but hardly the whole neighborhood.Pure speculation but political savey suggests there must have been a discussion which included the mayor once that national stature by Daley was achieved. Because in a political sense nothing went past the man.
    Perhaps the term American, or All American neighborhood,which certainly in 1939 (before he was mayor and 20 years after) it was considered to be such, may have been suggested but that would have required blacks which Bridgeport had few of.and antipathy towards.
    Now the term  "Irish neighborhood"sadly has become a "code word".  Bridgeport Memories -- Chicago Ink April 1997  Here a story of a of black kid on a bike caught by Bridgeport youths murdered near Mayor Daley's home.True blacks were harrassed.  During WWII so was an Italian-American kid if they crossed Halsted into the "Polish" area and visa versa

Associations and attitudes were based on ethnic dominance and their influences .Then and since then until the 1990s no person because of simply being black was ever murdered as a racial act to the best of the writers knowledge which goes back into the 30s.The point being the community attitude did not support it. It was simply not done      
     Lay that unfortunate episode on an attitude perpetuated by what began really as a political joke now advanced by none other than PBS. The show was produced by the same group which has contraversial opined actor Martin Sheen narrating its other projects which idealizes historical episodes something akin but not quite as bad as old Errol Flynn Spanish swashbucklers

There was an elitist attitude toward the other ethnic groups which carried their antipathy and historical differences against each other and the 11th ward (duchy) The Daley political base a political apparatus used to divide the groups with great success. Some were villians others, clever surviving political entities.

One of the more interesting cast of historical entities is Edmund (Ed) Burke, who's (duchy)  14th ward boundaries changes  would make any New York politician of the Gerrymander era proud and Burke worthy of a ring kissing genuflection.  He is still a force (2000's) in Chicago politics. In his heyday Burke would enter city hall in grand style, reminding one of a bishop entering church to administer confirmation. Entering never from the Clark street side but from esteemed LaSalle St, where his limo would park and his entourage never less than three would assemble. He would be preceeded  by "the bearer". In confirmation this person would bear the cruicifix ahead of the "bishop", here the bearer opened doors, then flanked by two acolytes as he entered Burke would dispense his waves and "hellos" like a bishop would dispense his blessings. All that was missing was the choir singing the processional Ecce Sacherdos Magnus (behold the large priest) as he entered city hall.    


In a PBS series entitled "Chicago"  the 1st segment emphasized Bridgeport.

The WTTW produced feature was shown throughout the US and was pandering Bunk. One would be led to believe that only two groups of immigrants lived there with the Irish doing all the work .I found some of the statements refering to Bridgeport offered by the some of the "historians" ,Ed Burke,being one of them, refering to that given ethnic group;(Wink!, Wink !,) Was; patronizing, inaccurate, and downright silly.I hasten to add "God Rest His Soul" Mayor Richard J Daley is dead .
     So there was no need to pander to him any longer,beside the son and current mayor (2003-7) Richard M Daley moved out of the "old neighborhood" into a rebuilt "historical district" along 18th and Prairie.
      Today Bridgeport can be considered "All American" in every sence of its diversity.subject Related story link of 30 years later
Chi Trib Kass on Daley,storyIn addition to this a serious research tool which gives a facinating comprehensive history of the area listing old churches and street names  Bridgeport Ethnic Villages it supports what is written here
    Since WWII many members of these ethnic groups have been "angloized" dispersed into the suburbs.
    One of the chief reasons for this was the type of available housing stock which durning WWII was held to a standstill. OPA (the federal Office of Price (controls) Administration had frozen all rents,a four room cold water flat with shared toilets at that time was about $4.00 per month. If a landlord wanted to improve conditions such as remodeling installing a bathroom they couldn't furthurmore the revenue rents were generating couldn't warrant it.
    So many of the original settlers left alas along with the churches and schools they constructed such as St Bridget's, and St Georges,(torn down).At present the area has a large Hispanic and Chinese population and much of it has been "gentrified" with what is called the upwardly mobile along with remnants of the ethnic population which settled there.Much of that movement was caused by the type of housing discussed furthur on in this feature.

WWII Impact on Bridgeport

The color of history is always in various shades of grey. It is only when the interpreters of an event place it upon a page can it get distorted into the abstract absolutes of black and white....ljk

The Saar peblicite should answer a rhetorical (retorical) question often raised by revisionist scholars. In which Francophiles frequently contend that if France contested this action the outcome would be different.

But opens the Sudentenland question. This was the forested fortified hill country comprizing the border of Czechoslovakia between it and and Germany.Settled mostly by Germans known as the "Sudentenland Deutch" This was surrendered to Germany through the non aggression pact negotiations of England's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain without the Czechs present and the protestations of  Czech President Benes ignored. It left the Czechs virtually defenseless. The Czechs were subsequently invaded by Page 18 Poland* and a few border towns near the Tatra mountains taken that were previously claimed by Poland after WWI.*source WWII Magazine.

Hence within Bridgeport which was settled by various groups including German and and there was a large Czech settlement to the north of Bridgeport across the south branch of the Chicago riverOnce the Poles really did not have the sympathy and support commonly believed. It became more acute once Hitler made his pact with Mussolini 

The large Italian community east of Halsted street was then brought into the mix and the street itself became a mini border +(note earlier references).<

Thus we (US) as a country had not reached the melting pot so exuberantly exclaimed for what was happening in europe was reflected within ethnic neighborhoods. The German community which was manifested by its Lutheran and Catholic churches long dropped the instruction and use of that language (German) after World War I and were more assimilated than the other ethnic groups in their use of language as an identity

Other ethnic groups kept their language as bilingual instruction But as the United States began to become more involved in WWII particularly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor these differences began to dissolve as the "ethnic Ameri-can" became un-hyphenated Americans now refered to curiously enough as "anglos" This not a philosphic observation but an empirical one and because of it

While in the compilation of poems entitled "The First book of Moses, The Gratten Gang and other things" .September 39,  was first separately published by the Chicago SW side  weekly community  newspaper The Southwest News Herald. Publisher the late  Edward Vondrack,originally had a weekly in the established southside community known as Bridgeport and subsequently sold it only to reestablish his publications house near  the area of Midway Airport several miles away The church refered to as Our Lady's in the poem is St Mary of Perpetual Help
poems of L.J.Keslin >

In Bridgeport
of September 1939

A fall breeze
blows leaves
off of the
Balzer's cottage
front yard Poplar tree
and drift past
next doors 3rd floor window
As a mother pops her head out
berating a bewildering offspring
collecting leaves on the sidewalk below
Suddenly "Our Lady's" bells begin to toll
From her two unfilled standards
which stand guard before its entrance
unfurled ensigns begin to fly
Ours and that of the Poles.
Flat bed trucks with green staked sides
filled with newspapers suddenly appear
their drivers standing on various corners
hawking German feats Poland's been invaded
,Stuka's straffing streets
Peering out open windows pondering clappers meet
bushas (lit grandmothers) shedding tears
crowding churches fleeing fears.
a world away but a crisis of their peers.
As the moon fills the sky
its light illuminates Our Lady's (St Mary of Perpetual Help) dome
below its standards fly as their halyards rat-ta-tat
rat-ta-tat bang against their poles
rat-ta-tat, rat-ta-tat,
as machine guns exchange their deadly blows
in a place so far away that now becomes so close.
Bombs bursting felt  every widows cry
and without urging others digging deep
answering drives of every kind from cash to clothes
Will it arrive in time?No one really knows 
Souls are urging for help that never comes
War has come bands are derging
Warriors from another time
told too old and out of prime
now confined
to news from their radio listening for a sign
Then a pall as all are told
Warsaw falls.
Here the war began in Bridgeport in 1939

   "The First Book of Moses" September 39 ".
A limited self published first edition of The Gratten Gang and Other Things is being planned To pre order a signed, and dedicated, enumerated,  leather bound, high rag content paper,letter press printed edition ,The Gratten Gang and Other Things will contain bibliography and is Intended as reference material which refers to other writers,and published historical material as well as a good read .The setting goes back to show what the community was like during that time and ends with the poem "The day they bombed Chicago " At wars end an over flight of 1000 bombers and fighters recalled. Please contact by email  price is dependent upon interest and may begin at $125.We hope not but it is hand work .All poems appearing in this issue of THE US MAT are contained in the 1st edition plus of course many more including the original "Bridgeport Ode"

   Poems about Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood
       and its haunted places Trilogy
L.J.Keslin 2003 all rights reserved The First Book of Moses,The Gratten Gang and Other Things,September 39

The Staircase
The house its brick so oft coated
red paint cracks at fingers touch
Above, the place where windows broken
is the room where he once was
Its the staircase where apparrition waits
Its darkened floors with oaken doors,
with blacken trim singling out
calling him
Browned walls where secrets rage
with wainscott stained in deepend gage
and stairs that creak betray their age
When it happened was days gone by
when gas lights lit the evil try
As darkened shadows betray a figure
drifting past a door
footsteps creak in upward shuffle
grasping knot and and more
the deadly rope a dragging 
sounding like a question   Why ?
when each step was hit
Then at final landing
it becomes affixed
as a crack betrays the silence
and the deadly bit
Freshly coated walls of green
show marks plainly seen
(for the wainscott gone you see
the gas lights pipes but seen,
disconected long ago)
where toes and heels crack it be.
As days rush conceals night reveals
a pendulum swinging back and forth.
Time is stilled and holding court
and a thumping thumping can be heard
of a restless spirit not interred
marking walls thumping bumping.
Was he old ?Was he young?
No one knows for sure
all thats known is
Sounds of suspended spirit floating.
marks of toe and heel plainly seen
left on walls often coated,
now just freshly painted green.

Note:Republished 2/03/ in the(UK) Publication ABC Tales .In the early 80's this poem was once read over the AM radio station WCFL and is an actual haunting. Another poem about Chicago's Bridgeport haunted places (and intended trilogy) Is The House on the street once called Wall. Where these paranormal events took place was known to the owners who did not want to be bothered by investigators and thrill seekers which is happening today on sites east of these locations. So if you happen to live in Bridgeport west of Halsted and a tour bus just happens to pull up in front of your house and the guide jumps out and says "this is where the devil danced with the maid so trite and jumped out the window he could be right". For each house here has its own haunted past

The Legend of the House on the street called Wall
There is a tale told of Bridgeport old
when its streets had different names
This is one about a place that happened on the block of a street
now called May.
It's about "Denyebu"the devil and his devious ways
  The house was frame , it was old .I've seen it the place brooded cold
Its wood was withered, and broken pickets guarded where a soul was sold
Babbas, and bushas shrouded in babushkas, in whispering  tones
their faces flickering in coal stoves light from their Eisen glass windows glowing in the dead of night
Tell of a happier plight a wedding night
But on that day hush they about her and the house on the street now called May
say she exclaimed while preening her flaxen hair
"I'm so fair I'd rather lure him from his evil lair
and leave this all for his call than suffer this avowed pall"
For she just wed one so staid and ahead of her by three decade.
Thus leaving in spirit  before, after vowing that she would stay.
With all that came to that house on the street now called May
There also came a stranger
Dressed in black and white he danced with maid so trite then seen in dim light
first the left and then the right instead of shoes were hooves .
Then the smell of sulfur the place did sear.
Of those present at the site was a priest who upon seeing this unholy fright
ordered him leave citing rite   Grasping the scheming lass.
"Denyebu" jumped with a scream through bursted glass to the ground below
Thus he reaped what she did sow.and where they landed only a hoof print shows
and nothing grows .
This is the legend told by the old about that house on the street called Wall
now called May
A legend told in whispered tones by the old
but they should know They should know

He stands on a site where a murder was commited
a murder yet unsolved
A little feller with a grey golf cap
and knickers of corduroy brown
His shirt sewn with care
where patches cover elbows worn
In his hands he holds a paper
its front page faces you
its showing nothing
A page with blanked out news
His mouth begins to open
but nothing can be heard
and then like the culprit
he dissolves from view
Did you see him on Loomis
? or on Aberdeen,
in the middle of the block ?
Or on Morgen street by the vacant lot?
A place where a murder was committed
he reveals himself to you
and then like the culprit
he dissapears from view
His corner is the whole southside
from Bridgeport to Beverly
and even beyond
From 63rd and Central
to a Mount Greewood view
A story never told but someone always knew
In hs hands he holds a paper
Its front page faces you
a page showing nothing
a page with blanked out news
?LJKeslin 2003 all rights reserved

Poems, Chicago, Bridgeport, contd,
The Great St Joseph's Day Affair,poems about Bridgeport neighborhood ghosts
The Cottage on 32nd Street
To be inserted on Halloween 2004 from a story suggested by Inge Raha of the Morgan Street Council 

A mothers day tribute to grandma
Ja, Ja, Mein Grosser hat Gesagt
Ja,!Ja!, Ja Ja!
Mine Grosser Hat Gesagt !
the way grandma said it could be a whisper
or it could be a prayer
and almost always was an exhale of exasperation
as she rocked back and forth within her chair
This is a saga decided to go for the record period. Buy The Book

?2002 L.J.Keslin, all rights reserved The First Book of Moses, The Gratten Gang and Other things,September 39 Note in response to a query the locations in these poems are all WEST of Halstad Street

Some of the 'Other Things>
From; The First Book of Moses, September 39, Gratten Gang & Other Things
The Child
(inspired by Christ in Marks's gospel of the seed)
Love's Flower blooms not, in craggy rock, flooded valley, or mountain top
Places these its just a weed awaiting for a reason,
for another time, another place, another season
Upon the Word a flowers nurtured, needing sun, needing rain,
hesitating as it blossoms,contemplating as it sets
while confidently progeny prays its earnest rest

In a stumbling way it searches for duty.
A jaundiced eye screens about for a guide to beauty
and it passes by a tree but sets it aside for a twing has frosted brown
It is dead it expounds, for a perfect tree seems out of perfect scheme,
imperfect to imperfect eye and perfection is profound

theusmat,com Chicago, Bridgeport, poems ghosts , St Joseph's Day,September 39 contd
The Rose of Hope (America)(poem)
Tween the sea of Faith, and the Ocean of Peace
lies the land of the Rose of Hope tied to a fusion of dreams
Bloom Rose of Hope midst cursed heat of bitter hate,
bloom in darkest cold of indifference haste/
Bloom bending with every wind of left and right 
Bloom let fragrance remain
For a faded rose is no more
and but a space tucked in historys page
Recalled, whistfully recalled
And  freedom, is but a fragile fragrance,
from the Rose of Hope


Teachers Study Guide

Teachers,World War II had a profound effect on American society with todays advances in living style it is difficult to comprehend it.In this era it is important that a child while we wish to protect it must also understand circumstances of depravation, and doing without.

For a good way to understand this era is to go back and view films of that era paying particular attention to the sets used even in the comedys; Laural and Hardy,or even The Three stooges. Directors at that time concerned with having their offerings being recieved by the public went more into reality the way a bedroom or a kitchen would relate to their paying customer,rather than fantacy.

If you have an opportunity to use film as a study source don't be afraid to freeze frame and ask the students what furnishings they observe in bedroom,kitchen,or front room sets.

Getting your 7th and 8th grade students to understand the era would be of great value. Perhaps having a class day dressed in that era clothes.The UIC (I believe that's the University of Illinois Chicago has a site in their lock zero series Bridgeport Ethnic Villages which contains excellent reference material

I cover life style hopefully in my poetry relating the joys of kids grabbing a chip of ice off the ice wagon, or the work of hauling a bucket of coal up three flights of stairs,or going to a movie which are in my book but not in the excerpts included in this web site
    Many of the older 3 and 4 story tenantments had small 4 room apartments with a shared toilet,and no central heat. Coal was used to heat homes and apartments.Cars were few and street car was the movement of choice. All this is described in short poems or narrative. The life style was completely different than it is today.These were tough people living in tough times doing tough things to survive . It may not be a bad idea as an introduction to research you institute a group project into the census tracks of that time. Asking such questions as the number of toilets, cold water flats, what a bath house was etc

Questions you may wish to ask your students about the previous poem
    In his poem September 39 what did Mr. Keslin mean by using the word standards ? "Ensigns Ours and that of the Poles " What does he mean ?
What is a Stuka ?
What is a halyard? What does it do ? What happens when the wind catches it ?
Mr. Keslin uses the expression " pondering clappers meet " What does he mean ?
In his first lines Mr Keslin begins his poem " A fall breeze " next line " blows leaves" and his next line is "off of " What is Mr.Keslin doing with the way he set up his phrasing ?