Symphony – Grant Park – Chicago


A wall of concrete buildings
Enclose a park,
Like a castle’s courtyard.

Each building is sturdy and unique.
Each with a powerful foundation of tubas
That rise story after story
Through trombones and French horns
To the triumphant trumpets
That ornately crown each building,
Each section of our castle wall.

We feel safe here,
Protected by our walls and the city’s guard.
We feel free here,
Escaping in dreams that aren’t stunted by ceilings,
Free to soar above our citadel.


You never see a child age
And you never see the colors fade
As the sun sets.
You only suddenly notice
How much they changed
While you weren’t looking.

Still, the sky grows dark.
All details are hidden in the shadows.

But not all is obscured by the night.
What was protected by reflection
Now reveals itself though internal illumination.
No more dark buildings on a bright sky,
Now, lighted pinpricks outline their
Silhouettes in the night.

These shimmering windows
Are too numerous to count
Like notes of a flute passage.
Some of them seem to climb forever,
To the red piccolos
On top of the buildings pinnacles
Warning approaching planes
“Here be steel and concrete!”

Down below are a thousand
Clarinets and oboes, in pairs,
On the front of every car and bus,
Cutting a path in the night,
Past the street corners,
Each lit by a bassoon
On top of a large pole.


Every car keeps a rhythm
With a honk
With a squeal
Under each traffic light
Blinking green
Blinking red
With the men walking by
With a step
With a jog
Keeping beat with life
Like a pulse
Like a drum
Through revolving doors
Spinning right
Spinning in
To each skyscraper
Standing still!
Standing still!

The city beats with motion
But the city stands still
As if the buildings were a drum
That life beats on.


Penetrating it all is a breath of life,
A breeze sweeping through
Tremoloing around a flag pole,
Wind on water
Bow on string
Our common air
That keeps us alive
That strings all souls together
Reminding us
That it’s not about the buildings
But what’s inside.
Not about empty windows
But the stories within every story.