Steger and Chicago Heights, IL, 1978

No seals at the base of pipes. Steam leaks
into my room. I hear Coolies below, hurrying.
I’d been told that a scraped slab across the street
once held tenements where the /Greasers /slept in shifts—
that my Grandfather, a pugilistic Greek
lived there in the twenties.

He worked mills, took chump change from stokers
to invest with Steger Piano Works, walking five miles
south along the I.C.—ex Turk-fighter, Orthodox, afraid
of nothing. He handed over to Steger himself
a visionary who went bust in the fifties.

I try to understand this.

Thirty years on, wreck of the Works still there.
windows rattled loose, or shot out, shops
looted for tools and ivory, the gallery and studios
where they tested improvements. Scriabin
and Rachmoninov mixed with the chug and blow
of industry, coal trains spalling east to Indiana,
U.S., and Inland Steel.

I get lonely for the works. The Sun’s out. Blood
in my piss is gone. I wade the poisoned creek,
patrol the fence line—this zone where steam breaks up
and a weak blue sky shows through.

~ ~ ~
Steve TrebellasSteve Trebellas is 61 years old and lives in Burlington,Iowa, a river town in the Southeast portion of the state. He was raised just outside of Chicago and worked numerous jobs including factories and light manufacturing. While still in his teens he hitch-hiked through most of America. He has lived in and around Chicago where many of his poems originate. He earned his MFA in poetry at 54 from Southern Illinois University.