Shell gas station with little neon green palm trees
perched upon the edge of the frenzied freeway,
a picture of plastic paradise
strewn with bright green lights
like spotlights of limelight
shedding light upon city life
never far from the dark side...
nearby, I spy
an assortment of street signs
to guide you into the night,
so turn right, & drive right
fly past the stoplight
into the glare of red light
& beware the districts of night life
Potholes sprinkled across empty Detroit streets
like bullet holes in dirty bedsheets
Found within the vacant homes of the forgotten,
alive with reminders of what used to be
Before the neighborhoods became abundant in abandoned homes
and awash with abandoned people
Yearning for forgotten yesterdays suspended far from reach,
searching for a memory of something concrete
While wandering along the crooked, cracked sidewalks
cemented with resentments;
Forgotten, forsaken, forlorn, foreboding... foreclosure
crisis spray-painted on the brick of a blown out home
Hungry for habitation despite dishevelment,
explicit with endless nothingness
From the passenger seat of my boyfriend's car
I keep my eyes wide while we drive, & watch
The world as it passes me, bye...
I wave from behind the tinted glass
Safely secured from the dangers that lie outside
We turn the radio all the way up
So we won't hear it squeak when we hit another speed bump
Instead we're blinded by bright city lights
Neon signs, streetlamps, & traffic lights;
Green then yellow then red, then red & blue (watch out, they're coming for you)
In the flashing lights, I see the city covered in a fresh coat of graffiti
Train-cars & abandoned buildings, dark alleys & concrete fences,
A bridge overpass where the streetlights have no electricity:
"Danger Reality Ahead"
It was winter of 16'
I met a boy in the land of Mary,
We went on our first date in the diner,
With my boy, boy from Detroit.
We shared an omelette, he put on extra ketchup
A scene I'll keep reminiscing.
We talked and laughed, as if no one's there
Suddenly I felt something so familiar
On the way to his car, I asked if he's cold
He said, No I'm fine, I am from Detroit.
In his car to the movie, in downtown Washington, D.C.
The movie is called Manchester by the sea
I looked at him while he talked about how his parents met in Annapolis.
My first blue eyed boy, oh Michael from Detroit.
He said that he would leave, in the month of February
To China, to pursuit his dreams.
I said ,it's fine, it's not like I am looking for a relationship.
Little did I know, I will fall for this boy from Detroit.
It was winter of 16', we always liked to have some ice cream
Wandering in the city of the district
Sometimes we didn't, sometimes we did
Know where the street is taking us to
We may stand in the cold, try to figure out which way to go
But with him I'd never get lost.
My boy from Detroit, it was never a fling
but why are there so many" what we could have been"?
Before you left, you asked my when do I know,
When do I know that I have feelings for you?
Well I guess it was the moment I unexpectedly agreed
to go to a movie with you after dinner
In your black Ford on a late Friday night
It was winter of 16'
We are both at the crossroad,not knowing where life
Would take us to
But we will be fine, after some time
We will meet again without tears in my eyes.
This is for you, Mike
Oh my boy from Detroit
When the day come,I would gladly
Change my last name to Olevnik.
Time for an adventure,
3 a.m. and raining
Sitting in my FUBU hoodie
My brain was really straining
To keep awake until the bus
Pulled into Detroit Station
So I could start my trip across
This once great and mighty nation
I wasn't there alone this night
Others dozed and slept
Some just sat there silently
While some just sat and wept
I looked at those around me
Who had assembled for this ride
I hoped we would get along
When in walked a young bride
She was dressed in white from head to feet
Her veil was ripped and torn
Behind the ruined makeup
You could see her face was worn
No groom came in, she was alone
She changed, sat, made no fuss
It was almost one more hour
Before we finally saw our bus
A Greyhound, drab and dreary
Pulled up at our loading door
They announced "210 to Vegas"
And they didn't say no more
Most people fly when heading there
They want to get there and get home
Our band of silent travellers
Wanted to just get out and roam
They loaded up our cases
I just had a backpack, that
I was gonna take on board and
Just load it where I sat
They said fifteen more minutes
They would have to fill with fuel
At this point I made contact
With a man....to have a duel
He was sitting right across from me
He had a ball out, on his knees
He was tossing it into the air
So...I brought out my keys
He tossed it up and caught it
So, with my keys I did the same
He smiled and flipped it to his left
and with my keys I played his game
He moved it round from hand to hand
Made it hover in mid air
He did it all so gracefully
I did the same with out a care
His ball, my keys...time slipping by
Just then he gave a smile
He bounced the ball upon the floor
He had beat my by a mile
I nodded, slipped my keys away
I'd been outdone through and through
By a man with a red rubber ball
What else was there to do?
We lodaded up and took our seats
The crowd was pretty thin
With the lights low on inside the bus
It was looking rather dim
The married folks and partners
paired up in seats as pairs
The singles spread out randomly
As they collected up our fares
Vegas, was our hallowed ground
The final destination for us all
Then on the station P.A
they made the final loading call
Thirty three hours was the time
We'd take to drive
Give or take some time for food stops
We'd all get there safe, alive
We hit the road directly
My adventure had begun
It was still dark in the distance
We were driving towards the sun
Across the aisle all alone
An old lady sat and wrote
She was trying to get comfortable
She was wrapped up in her coat
The seat behind me, vacant
I was grateful for this fact
It afforded me the space so I
Could put my seat right back
With the blind pulled down,
I tried to sleep, at last I drifted off
There was the sound of the bus motor
And of the occasional, dry, hoarse cough
I heard music in my head at first
So I thought it was a dream
It turned out to be a radio
Owned by our runaway, bridal queen
she sat two rows down and to my left
She had changed into some jeans, and shirt
She had one ear plug in, one out
You could see how she did hurt
I got up, stretched, went to the back
I'd freshen up and have a pee
As I walked I felt so ill at ease
As all eyes followed me
The back two seats were occupied
by two nuns, one old, one not
The smiled as I came near them
I smiled back, and then I thought
This cast of wayward characters
Was not at all like those
That were portrayed in "Homeward Bound"
The song most folkies all shoud know
On my way back I noticed a man
Reading, or at least that's how it looked
I saw no print upon his page
No letters in his book
I stood and watched, his fingers flew
Like they were moving on a rail
Then I realized that he was blind
And his book was all in braile
I stood there in amazement
At this sight that I'd just seen
Then I chuckled at the cover
From an old Playboy Magazine
We pulled into a diner
We'd been out for nine hours now
We had an hour to ourselves
Time to change and get some chow
Most folks sat as they had come
In pairs or all alone
Some went out for a ciggy
One old man went to the phone
We all made sure to void ourselves
Before we got on board
For the smell from eighteen greasy meals
would test the nuns faith in our lord
The background noise was louder
Than it had been at the start
We were eighteen lonely travellers
Travelling together, but apart
A father and his daughter
Played "eye spy" and sang some songs
They played "license plate bingo"
Most lyrics they got wrong
The old lady across the aisle
was watching, intently like a hawk
She was scratching things inside her book
You'd expect her just to squak
The man who had the ball sat
Alone, said not a word
I walked by and said "good morning"
But I don't think he heard
He sat there, still not moving
staring out the window at the world
He was taking in the movie
Of our trip as it unfurled
The trip was uneventful
It went on mostly the same
People reading, people watching
Father, daughter and their games
The driver pointed out some stuff
As we passed by on the way
"To the left you'll find the largest
ball of string made to this day"
He pointed out old houses,
Fields of battle, lost and won
Just a couple took real notice
Most wished the trip was done
A repeat after five more hours
A new driver came on board
She was blond, blue eyed and beautiful
Inside, my heart just soared
In my imagination
She would pick me from the crowd
When we made it to Las Vegas
I would go with her, I'd be proud
But, she sat there pointing out the sights
Like her predecessor had
My fantasy went up in smoke
It was really kind of sad
We ventured on till Vegas
getting off to eat and then
We would all repeat our actions
And get back and sleep again
It was quiet for the most part
Most folks waiting for the end
When we came out of the mountains
We could see the strip around the bend
"Ten minutes till Las Vegas"
our blond driver told us all
Make sure you've your belongings
I looked at the man who had the ball
He smiled tossed it in the air
I tossed my keys just one more time
In a way, we had a friendship
In a way , it was a crime
We had one thing in common
It would stick with me for good
It would always make me smile
And a smile's always good
We pulled up into the station
We were all tired from the ride
Most grabbed their extra luggage
I grabbed mine and went inside
There, I went up to the window
Bought another ticket, heading east
Turned and bumped into a fellow
He was a slight, buy friendly priest
"I'm heading to Detroit, my son"
"Where is it you're off to"
"I'm just off on an adventure"
"I think I'll go back there with you"
He smiled, opened his bible
We had three hours still to wait
Before our bus was ready to go back
Across the United States
You might ask yourself, why do this?
Why go back and not take time
To see the city that I'd come to
It just seems so sublime
to me the whole adventure
Isn't in the place I go
The adventure is the people
Each trips a brand new show
The cities that I visit
Really never, ever change
But the people....oh the people
Man, some are really strange
If you now would please excuse me
I must go and change my clothes
For I'm off on adventure
How it turns out...no one knows.
He asks me perhaps
Could I spare some loose change
I don't have any
I offer a joint instead
I light it for him
Fearing the theft of my lighter
He tells me the story
Of the cities decline
The steam rising
From the sewer behind him
Framing his story
The riots and fires
The glory long past
As he flicks his ash
On my shoe
His salt and pepper stubble
Patching his chin
He claims he's the mayor
Of Hart Plaza
When we're done with the smoke
He wishes god bless
The Cat Caller
Walking the corner
By the renaissance center
A security guard
Sways to keep warm
"Damn Baby" he yells
In my general direction
I don't turn around
"Hey come here for a minute"
I start to walk faster
"Well fuck you then"
I continue to walk
Past a building unknown
A body laid upon a stoop
Curled in a ball
Face an inhuman blue
A paper thin blanket
His only defense
From the harsh Detroit winter
To this day I have no idea
If he was alive
These streets knew feet in days gone by,
bustling sidewalks, crowded storefronts,
laughter, light and dancers leaking
out of smoke-filled bars.
Cars would wind through intersections,
blood cells between neighborhoods.
From The Corner came The Roar.
He remembers how the Autumn sounded
back in '84
when Alan Trammell brought The Series home,
the arcing shot off Gibson's bat,
the rolling wave of soaring voices.
tattooed on the hearts
of a city
who's been hurting since the 50's.
Bless You Boys.
Ya did it--
went and Sparked up Michigan
and lit a dimming town again
in Corktown's widening eyes.
In 20 years, though, losses pile up.
55 and starved for signs
of trends reversing, luck upending,
impending relief or just some kind of
Sickening, cloying rapid decay
as neighborhoods die.
These streets know crumbling cinderblock
walls and blistered paint coats don't
cover ribcages starting to show--
steel girder bones--and windows blown
out, like teeth lost from a well-spoken mouth,
allow the Lake Michigan wind to howl
out the tale--
through oxidized bones--
of just what it looks like
when economic war hits home.
Heartbeats still find footing
in Motor City streets, beneath
the Old English "D,"
but mind the scoreboard smart;
the Tigers lost a hundred games
I took a walk today
and listened to the birds
choking on the smog,
broke my mother's back
with every step
and outran a stray dog.
I picked you a bouquet
of dandelions from the field
because flowers can't grow
when the sun's always concealed.
I put them in a vase
and filled it with water from the tap
they died within an hour,
now I know for sure you won't come back.
I always swore
I'd never own a broken home
but it's hard not to when the only one's who stay
are the garden gnomes —
but someone's been smashing them
in the middle of the night,
or maybe they're blowing out their brains
to escape my company
and the blight.
There's no magic left
in this city, so chronically gray
storms are always passing though
and the rainbows are too scared to stay...
I wanted to run away with you
from the hood and past the burbs
to somewhere where the air is clean
and filled with singing birds.
But instead I'm stuck here on this couch,
while I search for words.