On “The Last Fortune Teller of Chicago” (#17)

Smoothly, quickly written in the week between August 2 and 9, 2009, with minor revisions by each poet of the other’s lines along the way, “The Last Fortune Teller of Chicago” discussed patrilineage and thin meaty sheets — sausage casings and facial cauls. It’s an oddly sexy poem, in John’s opinion.

The story begins with the fortune teller’s great grandfather, then shifts to his grandfather, then moves to one of two possible fathers (brothers sharing one father?) and his stillborn sister before settling on the potentially disfigured fortune teller. There are curses, blessings, deaths and powers. On question remains unanswered, even unasked: why is he the last fortune teller of Chicago? What are the authors saying about the future intersection, or lack thereof, of the Windy City and the realm of the soothsayer?

“The Last Fortune Teller of Chicago” first appeared in the Evergreen Review Number 122 (March 2010). It is the seventeenth poem in the final sequence of Poets’ Guide to America.

About poetsguide

A former altar boy and a former U.S. Army interrogator, respectively, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott were born and raised in Michigan, meeting each other at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor before separately migrating to California in the early 1990s to attend graduate schools, their friendship evolving into a writing collaboration – what they refer to as poetic volleyball. They both currently live in Southern California, John with his wife, Martin with his wife and two children. John teaches English composition at several local colleges, while Martin works as a marketing strategist for a global company. John still affects a strange piety; Martin still finds himself asking a lot of questions. Individually and together, their writing has appeared in over 150 periodicals and anthologies, garnering three Pushcart Prize nominations for Martin’s poems “India Ivy” and “When Bridges Fall” (available in his collection Children of Interrogation, which has been a finalist or semi-finalist in eighteen poetry prizes) and John’s “Poem for Christy’s Daughter” (available in his collection Kinks in the Hose). Martin has also optioned three screenplays. His chapbook Misery Loves was published on Red Dancefloor Press. John’s chapbook Breach Birth was published on Propaganda Press.
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