“Baby,” “Bourbon Street, New Orleans, the night before the Chicago Bears won the 1986 Super Bowl, 46-10,” and “Ghosts”

Photo by Rey Proenza on Unsplash


My sister held the baby as he died.

Not hers.

She held the nose-tube baby

as his mother exercised at the Y,

exorcized, for moments, grief,

setting fragile, ebbing boy in soft arms.

She came away from her office desk to help

and held the baby like her own,

embraced gently under a smile.

She held the baby as he died,

body and blood, chalice,

incense cloud, censer,

sacred fire.

She held the baby,

tied to him for final breathing,

son now, blessed in her living.

She held the baby as he died.


the baby as he died.


Bourbon Street, New Orleans,the night before the Chicago Bears won the 1986 Super Bowl, 46-10

George could not suppress

his animal glee, eyes

filled with the sun of the

Bears, his blinding trip to

the mountain top, as, wife,

I hung on best I could

— he knew and I knew —

while, a day early, he ate

the bread and wine of

triumph-to-be, knowing a

sure thing when he saw it

— he knew and I knew —

and I hung on best I

could as my blood poisoned

and body emptied into air,

and George was goofy with

this rainbow bubble of delight,

joy as pure as untrod snow,

wanting to build tents for this

flash of light, and babbled his

giddiness to the tall reporter

who looked at me and saw

— he knew and I knew —

the two months to go before

my transubstantiation, and I

hung onto George for dear life.


I see ghosts

in the ceiling

light of the

Clark Street


typhoons in

the Diet

Coke, insect


through my

vexed sinews.

I runic the

Formica spill,

searching out

the map from

there to here,

across the


and stalags of

flaws, negatives,

my empty. I am

missing entire


sections on the

sectioned map

of rectangled,


soil, seen from

drone air, crisp

right-angled gaps

in earthwork

patchwork of

blank formless

white, bordering

soy fields and the

logic of forests.

Hard snow

pellets slap

the tall wide

windows in


waves as if I

am underwater,

ignorant of air.

About the Author

Patrick T. Reardon

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of fourteen books, including the poetry collections Requiem for David (Silver Birch), Darkness on the Face of the Deep (Kelsay), The Lost Tribes (Grey Book), Let the Baby Sleep (In Case of Emergency) and Salt of the Earth: Doubts and Faith (Kelsay). His memoir in prose poems Puddin’: The Autobiography of a Baby was published by Third World Press with an introduction by Haki Madhubuti. For 32 years, Reardon was a Chicago Tribune reporter. His history book, The Loop: The “L” Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago was published by Southern Illinois University Press.