Category Archives: Chicago

46–“Something Small” from “Frazzle”

From Inside Looking Out by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

“You can write a poem
about anything:

mundane, mystical, trivial
momentous, silly or banal.

A car in front of me
on a dark winter night…”

From poem 46, “Something Small,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

A poem can be a story, a portrait, an observation, a eulogy, a witness, an emotional rant, a philosophical musing or anything else in between. There are rules and they can be bent or broken. Anything that happens can be woven in, with threads from the past, present or future, both true and speculation. What you sense or think or dream or imagine…all can be made real, on the page. What character are you most like in this story?

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

43–“Flying Geese” from “Frazzle”

Chicago Roof with Pigeon, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2012

“The leader at the “V” point changes
so the responsibility of bearing the brunt,
breaking the flight path, does not fall on any one
even exceptionally strong goose,

but is borne by many if not all the flock in turn….”

From poem 43, “Flying Geese,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

Timely…(and perhaps timeless) poem about innate responsibility and seamless connection, as seen through the lessons of nature. I wrote it in 2010, but it seems to apply directly to this week.

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

17–“For John” from “Frazzle”

What do you remember about the choices you made and the chances you took to get where you are right now? Is this where you were headed when you set off?

Poem 17, “For John,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

For more video poems from “Frazzle”

Choosing Expansive

State Street, Chicago Copyright 2012 MDMikus

State Street, Chicago Copyright 2012 MDMikus

I wrote this poem when I was a mentor for a 7th grade girl through the Spark Program. I would drive 30 miles into Chicago and we’d meet at an Argo Tea shop downtown after school. After a snack, we’d talk about and read poetry. She’d write from prompts I gave her or her own ideas, and plan and carry out her project.

In 2012 the high school graduation rate for Chicago public schools was low, about 60%. The Spark Program (begun in San Francisco, now in four cities) was meant to give individual attention and apprenticeships to students to encourage them to stay in school and graduate. I wrote while I waited for her to come, and in my car afterwards, and elsewhere inspired by the whole process. I also took Chicago photos, which I love to do (see above). She ended up creating an amazing collection of her poems paired with her vividly colorful designs (including glitter stickers) and presenting it to the entire group at the end. Very cool!

Here is one of my own “Spark” poems:

Choosing Expansive

(Spark #2)

A door opens
walk through.
Opportunity knocks
A boat glides up to the dock
where you stand waiting
to take you to your dream
no explanations
no guarantees.
If you don’t go
you will wonder
and if you don’t go
what will you do
and if you don’t…go
when will you find out
just what you are made of
just what you could be
if only?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

Evening with Eric Whitacre

Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

Elisabeth, Eric, me, and Lisa–Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

10:30 last night I drove back home in the snow from an incredible event with Eric Whitacre. So far exceeded any unconscious expectations I might have had, I was flying. It’s hard to pin down exactly why we were so thoroughly buzzed after. Everything lined up so perfectly it was one of those rare times when I felt in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, entirely content.

To recap: The latest snow—in one of the snowiest winters ever—held off for the drive in. I did not get turned around in Evanston, (which happens to me often). Easy parking in a covered lot a block away. Welcomed by new Virtual Choir friends, Elisabeth (and Jonathan), Darrell (and Penna), and Lisa at The Celtic Knot Pub in Evanston, where the food was good and the company was awesome!


Elisabeth, Lisa, Penna, Darrell and me–Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

At the urging of Darrell Polka, I read the most recent of my Eric Whitacre-Virtual Choir inspired poems to the group (see below). We then walked over to the Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University just as the snow was beginning to accumulate. Lovely dusting and reasonably warm (for these days). Beautiful space. Got to hear Eric rehearsing the Apollo Chorus singing his piece, Lux Aurumque, a conducting master class. Transcendent! He talked us through some of his creative process with such humor and warmth. Excellent questions asked in the Q & A with such thoughtful, vulnerable, insightful answers. We even all got to sing a few bars of a piece he is working on and then hear Lux Aurumque in entirety. Just soaked right into me!

Then the meet and greet (maybe as many as 700 of us). Eric is one of those rare people who can captivate an audience and also fully connect with individuals. He focused on each of us in turn, gracious and generous. Responsive, receiving, and…well, genuine. His energy and enthusiasm is just so contagious! I delivered the three poems to him, got a CD signed and photos taken (by Jonathan). Talked a minute or so and some whirlwind hugs. Floating…

When I first heard about Eric Whitacre coming nearby, I was recovering from major abdominal surgery and felt too vulnerable to go out on my own, certainly not drive and walk out in the slippery snow! Even though I wanted to meet my local Virtual Choir friends in real life, I didn’t plan on going. At some point, I decided to stop thinking about whether to go or not and just see if it all came together. Get out of my own way. I emailed for a ticket and that was good. Emailed the restaurant and they got back to me in an hour (yes, they had a gluten-free menu, very accommodating). And that was good. Parking was nearby. That was good. The weather was manageable and most of all I recovered. Walking the few minutes, even in snow was a piece of cake. That was good. Reassuring. As I said to Elisabeth, it all worked out. My job was to let it. Have you ever had that experience when you let go and allowed your life to come together?

Here are the poems, part of the ongoing collection inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir.


Eric Whitacre: Godzilla Eats Las Vegas
(with Elvises)

There is music
takes itself so serious
and then

there is music
without a serious bone
that can sink in

to the dark places
and lighten
lift out of

and up
soaring without risk
of falling back.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013


Cracked Open After Louise Penny

While listening to Arvo Pärt Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten,
Proms, 2010 on YouTube—posted by Eric Whitacre on Facebook

Not about fixing
the irreparably broken
but creating

the newborn form
to take its place
in memoriam,

to allow, not push or defend
deliberate shoots that spring up
through soil

even if not particularly fertile,
and shoots can grow
into something novel

and bloom someday
into something as yet
merely envisioned…

To take the risk
as if…

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013


Subset of Virtual Choir

spend precious hours
on a seasonal short song

to sing into a camera and send?
Naked it feels
to risk a public

of being less than…

The charismatic man
behind the tune
calling for the tribe,

offering a vision,
a chance to gather
even in competition

some, not all, will win. Why?
To open the door and get inside,
sync with the rhythm,

learn music from intent repetition
and deliver the song
to the green dot and beyond.

Why, again why?
Because to live
is to risk, is to stretch

is to grow, is to know
possibility of
contentment within

even virtual achievement.
To be connected,
not alone, to belong

through trials, through song
Innate in the genes, to be together,
though apparently separate.

For the inspiration,
follow the inclination,
why do anything,

hit a ball with a bat,
throw or jump or run,
pull a bow across strings,

stroke a key or blow into a tube,
riff on a guitar or beat a drum
is to express being…human

being with virtual friends.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

You may also like previous posts with poems inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir