Joseph S. Pete, 1/13/2020

Current occupation: Reporter

Former occupations: Soldier, janitor

Contact Information: Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio, and the author of the forthcoming books "Lost Hammond, Indiana" and "100 Things To Do in Gary and Northwest Indiana Before You Die." He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary work and photography have appeared in As You WereO-Dark-ThirtyThe Grief DiariesGravelSynesthesia Literary JournalChicago LiteratiDogzplotshufPoetryThe Roaring MusePrairie WindsBlue Collar ReviewLumpenStoneboatThe Tipton Poetry JournalEuphemism, and elsewhere. Like Bartleby, he would prefer not to.





A Region tattered but tough, 

rusting but resilient,

soldiers on every workaday day.


The stalwart clock-puncher in a fading 

Union Proud T-shirt always shows up on time

as those raging blast furnaces burn eternally

against that endless churning lakefront.


Refinery effluvium and open hearth miasma

sometimes yield to redolent ethic aromas 

escaping through open windows:

cevapi, halupki, ciorba, mici, menudo.


Baking hot asphalt and chain basketball nets

dominate the landscape of brick and grit and grime,

hastily slapped-up tags and plexiglass barriers.


Century-old mason-mortared buildings succumb 

to the inevitable rot of time’s relentless onslaught.

Plywood boards occlude gaping gaps

as neighborhood property values plunge.


Lots sit vacant and weed-ridden, 

but even on the most barren patch of urban frontier

a wild prairie flower can bloom brightly.



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