Happy Day

chicagoBy Ric Hudgens

Chicago thirty years ago
Hot August night
Apartments stacked close
No air conditioning
Everyone’s windows up
Taverns close at 3 am
Patrons weave their way home
Sound slides through night air
“O happy day, O happy day”
One voice ascends in a boozy baritone
“When Jesus washed . . . “
A one man marching choir
“ . . . My sins away.”
Heat, sweat, volume keep everyone awake
“O happy day, O happy day.”

Finally from across the street
Through the screen window
For all of us to hear
A female neighbor’s calm encouragement
On everyone’s behalf
“Happy your ass on home, boy,
happy your ass on home”
Laughter begins
Is handed back and forth
From apartment to apartment
Down the entire block
An urban canyon resounding
With the joy of community
Life in the city
O happy day

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