In general, I think timmy hit it right on with the tone: a giddiness to the poem. A male giddiness. I never thought of “the girls in their summer dresses,” but yes, to be distantly/tangentially associated with Irwin Shaw isn’t bad.
J. Brian: Thanks for giving it a second chance! As far as the equine words: it was deliberate. Seeing many freshly coiffed women (along with men, but the poem focuses on the women) at a traffic light waiting for it to change to green in any major city with public transportation, along with worrying about missing a morning train and being late for work is as visually close to the starting gate at a horse race image one can get. The feet scratch, their necks crane over people, the eyes and head intently look all around quickly turning from left to right searching for any hole in the “field” that might give them an edge to being first to the turnstile! (This also reminds me of close-up views of Bears’s linebacker Brian Ulracher just before the snap of a football.) And when the light changes (the bell sounds in a horse race) the bouncing and dancing and flashing of the hair in a dash to the entrance is as close to the beauteous rhythmic bounce of expensive, well-coiffed manes at the Kentucky Derby humans are about to get.
I think, from your suggestion, I will change “dance like little girls at play” to “dash like little girls at play” to keep the equine image of a race.
You also give me the idea of changing the line
These ageless city women of April with their freshly coiffed hair.
To something like:
These ageless city women - beauty roses of April - with their freshly coiffed hair.
(Yes, I know it is cheaply sentimental, but a man without sentiment is a man who has never lived a life! I may ditch it if even I can’t take the sentiment in a day or two!)
I think the Chicago asides are necessary. I even added "River North" to make the neighborhood location specific for the beauty parlors. It is a local concept as a qualifying adjective especially regarding weather, road construction and politics - - much like “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown,” that to deny its presence denies the local flavor. This morning at the Deli getting a quart of milk, the proprietor and I said it five times. He is a Pakistani - great guy - and I tried my line about being suspicious of Spring is like believing an Alderman’s promise. He loooooooved it!
I love Sandburg as well. Coincidentally, at present, I am a third of the way through his own compilation of his three-volume biography of Lincoln. Brilliant writing of history.
And the best anti-war poem, hands down is Sandburg’s “Grass.” On the surface it seems like a lament. However, when I read it in performance, I read it as if Grass is an arch villain, co-conspirator in war. Knocks people’s socks off.
Stitting on a porch swing reading Sandburg in April - in Chicago - well, I will wait till May or June! Inch of snow on the ground this morning.
While I am a lover of poetry and a reader and performer of poetry with hundreds committed to memory, writing poetry is not my strength or focus; once in awhile I go through a phase.