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The Big Leak

or, A Visit From St. Ickiness

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'Twas a day good for business, when all through the Loop

Work-day creatures were stirring, as thick as pea soup;

The stock quotes were hung on the big board with care,

In hopes that some bullishness soon would show there.

The lawyers were nestled all snug in their chairs,

While visions of prison gray-lorded their hairs;

And Mom in her Reeboks, and I in my tie,

Had just settled our brains for a week's toiling fry,

When from the sub-basement arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.

Away to the stairwell I flew like a flash,

Tore open the door and downstairs I did dash.

The light in the bowels of my building below

Bathed all my surroundings in fluorescent glow;

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a torrent of water, like foaming dark beer,

Whose dead fish and vile smell so caused me to shiver,

I knew in a moment 'twas the Chicago River!

More rapid than eagles the payrollers came,

And they whistled, and shouted, and tossed around blame:

"It wasn't my fault! The map was drawn wrong!

Some other fool cut the damn pilings too long!

It was dry when I last saw the coal tunnel's wall!

Now point fingers! Point fingers! Point fingers all!"

As moist-browed hacks lay 'neath the ax poised to fly,

When they saw the blade falling, screamed lie after lie;

While into Sears Tower the fetid flood flew,

Into Field's, and Carson's, and City Hall too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the street

The prancing and pawing of work-booted feet.

As I wrung out my pants, trying to find some dry ground,

Onto Kinzie Bridge engineers came with a bound.

They were dressed all in rubber from their toes to their chins,

Thoughts of overtime pay gave them wide happy grins:

A bundle of mattresses they flung into the muck,

But the river just burped, then continued to suck.

Their eyes, how they twinkled! Their dimples, how merry!

As they poured quick-dry concrete like holiday sherry!

Daley's droll little mouth was drawn down like a bow,

And his staff members' faces were white as the snow;

Their career goals the mayor held tight in his teeth,

And their prayers, they encircled his head like a wreath.

But soon there arrived, to the loud cheers of many,

The hard-hatted, poker-faced, flood stud John Kenny.

He was chubby and plump--a right jolly old chap--

And he laughed as his men filled the river with crap;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know he was in Daley's bed.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his task,

And plugged up the hole; then in glory did bask,

And laying his finger on top of his bill,

Gave a nod and proclaimed, "This will cost several mil."

He sprang to his truck, to his men gave a whistle,

And away they all sped like a Patriot missile,

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,

"Litigation to all, and to all a good fight!"

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Kurt Mitchell.

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