If you can’t get a job in Chicago, you can’t get a job anywhere.
Written by Cynthia Gallaher
Art by Bob Ward
How Chicago “Works” It Out
“Chicago is the great American city…perhaps [the last] of the great American cities.” ~ Norman Mailer
“If you can’t get a job
you can’t get a job anywhere,”
my mother would say.
That was before
all the factories closed or
moved to the Sunbelt, to China,
or other far-flung countries.
But in Chicago’s factories,
meat packing lines or rail yards,
where steel-toed, levied, dickied
workers who labored 12 to 16 hours a day,
Seven days a week, were cogs in wheels,
gears that pushed tooth-by-tooth bosses’ agendas
as if families, children, health needs
or free time never existed.
Some called Chicago the city that works,
but to bring forth the eight-hour day,
and the concept of the weekend to America,
its workers saw bloodshed,
Lost homes and lost lives.
The city that works
is the city in which many forget
beats the rhythmic heart
Of collective bargaining,
so American workers could
have their say
in the workplace,
Wield the power of negotiation
with their words,
call forth a decent livelihood
not only with benefits,
But a new sense of work and life,
voicing a higher octave
of humanity the world could hear
loud and clear.
About the Author
Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet, is author of four poetry collections, including Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices, and three chapbooks, including Drenched. Her award-winning nonfiction/memoir/creativity guide is Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet.
About the Artist
Bob Ward is a photographer from Chicago.