Open Road Project: A Weekend in Chicago

14 Apr

When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project.  Click on the stanzas below to find out where they’ve been left and track the poem’s progress here.

I was in Chicago this month for a long weekend to welcome spring, eat good food and celebrate the impending matrimony an old friend.  It was unseasonably warm and the whole trip was filled with good food, drink and company.
I left the 30th section of the poem at Uncommon Ground, a combination coffee shop/bar/restaurant in Roger’s Park.  It’s a fine place to eat, drink and enjoy love music.  I got the “Agripolitan,” made with triple berry-infused rain organic vodka, cardamom syrup, lemon juice.  Not only was it tasty-looking, a portion from every Agripolitan is donated to the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project to develop a community orchard in Chicago featuring rare and endangered fruit varieties. Do drink and donate.

Something there is in the float of the sigh of things that provokes it out of the soul.


I left the 31st section of the poem at Triple Crown Restaurant in Chinatown where my lovely friend/host/chauffeur for the weekend and I went for dim sum. Among other things, we stuffed ourselves with shrimp dumplings, BBQ pork buns, bean curd and baby octopus.

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, they may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.


I left the 32nd section of the poem in a small sculpture park near my friend’s apartment.  She lives in the Glenwood Arts District of Roger’s Park and we repeatedly past this funky little spot to and from the L. Something tells me if anyone’s going to appreciate a poem randomly left on their property, it’s going to be whoever is responsive for this place.

Here is realization, here is a man tallied- he realizes here what he has in him, the past, the future, majesty, love. If they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.


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