The new baby next door is crying. I can imagine how she feels. Today is the warmest day of her life. She pulls at her new baby clothes trying to get comfortable while strapped into a plastic high chair like a mental patient. The washing machines in the laundry room below her window stop and there is silence. My nerves ease, and except for the hummingbirds, doves, gulls, house sparrows, a peregrine falcon leaps up from the pond, slips beneath the magnolia tree and settles on a low branch of the fur pine, shakes the water from its long, brown, stretched wings. The baby stops crying. The ducks by the pool are talking. The baby, Mia, listens. A jet plane flies overhead like a shaking fist at paradise. Kids are heard from the schoolyard. Her mother is speaking. Something smells good. Here comes the new tenant. She’s doing her laundry in her Sunday best, like a walking new tattoo. Once the spin-dry machine is fed and the noise resumes, the baby begins crying again. I saw a grasshopper for the first time in years.
Al Simmons was born in Chicago on December 21, 1948, attended Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and edited Northeastern Illinois University Press, winning two Illinois Arts Council Awards in the process. Founder of the Blue Store Readings, 1971, home of the Spoken Word Movement and the first regular reading series in Chicago since Sherwood Anderson in the 1930s. Poet-In-Residence, City of Chicago, 1979-80. Creator of the Main Event, the World Heavyweight Poetry Championship Fights. Founder of the World Poetry Association, (WPA), and Commissioner of the WPA and the World Poetry Bout Association, (WPBA), Chicago, Taos, New Mexico, 1979 – 2002. Publications include Care Free, poems, Smithereens Press, Bolinas, California, 1982, and King Blue, a memoir, Stone Wind Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1992.