Poetry

Maxwell Street, A Chicago Portrait

Maxwell Street
Originally between Maxwell and 16th, both sides of Halsted
(Now part of UIC)
A vast, thriving marketplace
Smells of kielbasa and grilled onions (Eastern Europeans)
ribs and rib tips (African Americans) and
tacos, and burritos (Mexicans)
Men‘s suits for all occasions, all walks of life
women’s handbags, hats, the latest fashions
The allure of jewelry, clothes, food, knickknacks and tools
Sunday tourists curious, adventurous
hunting for bargains, souvenirs
Entrepreneurs from all points of the city
Legitimate small businessmen
trying to make a few bucks
Con men fleecing us of a few bucks
“Have I got a deal for you—”
The mix and mingle of humanity
A man with watches up his sleeve
A man on the No. 8 Halsted bus with two live chickens
Chicago’s very own melting pot.

Ghetto street
Street lined with impoverished homes
pinching pennies for survival
quarantined from well-to-do neighbors
limited resources, limited dreams
From Jew Town, Russian Jews
open-air pushcart market
To African-Americans
street performers of blues and gospels
To Mexican immigrants
ever-shrinking boundaries
now Roosevelt and Des Plaines.

Unique Chicago flavor of sweet and sour.

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