Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: "Once In A Great City : A Detroit Story"

Once in a Great City: A Detroit StoryOnce in a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a book about Detroit at both its strongest and its most vulnerable. Detroit is my city; I grew up in its suburbs and have lived there all my life except for my 20s. And so, this book has a personal resonance for me.

Maraniss, also a native Detroiter, focuses his book on the period between late 1962 and early 1964. The book has a lot to say and reveal--at least to me--about such local figures as Henry Ford II ("The Deuce"), Lee Iacocca, Berry Gordy Jr., Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, Governor George Romney, Walter Reuther, and the Reverend C.L. Frankin (father of Aretha), as well as national figures such as Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, and John F. Kennedy. The book is stuffed with politics, labor, the Motown sound, mobsters, sports stars, religious leaders, and all the movers and shakers of the time.

I turned 8 years old in 1963, and remember so many of these names and places, but through a child's eyes. I grew up hearing these names on the news, or around the dinner table--my father was a newspaperman who loved to talk about his work and current events--but after reading this book I finally understand who some of these people really were; they're no longer just names.

I found two aspects of the book particularly fascinating: the rise of Motown records, and the secrecy and planning that went on for years before the unveiling of the famous Ford Mustang. Naturally, there is much about race in this book, because it is at the core of the city's story. From my white suburban childhood, I remember well the adults around me being adamant about keeping the blacks out, and now I have read about the other side of that coin, people denied jobs, housing and education based simply on race. There is also much about cars, of course. My brother, nine years older then me, was a big "car guy", and because of him, I remember his enthusiasm and excitement about cars like the Mustang and Camaro.

On a personal level, perhaps the most poignant scene in the book was the description of the fire at the Ford Rotunda, an extremely popular tourist destination of the time,featuring cars, displays, and a huge Christmas bash which included live reindeer. I vividly remember going to what might have been the last Christmas event held before the place burned to the ground in November of 1962. I went with my parents and brother, and my brother bought me a little futuristic car. How could any of us have possibly known what the future would bring to the Rotunda, to the auto industry, or to the once vibrant and powerful city of Detroit? What a bittersweet read.





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Friday, April 21, 2017

Chatterbox

I chatter constantly
inside my head,
but to you I must seem silent, as remote
as a wild animal, distant by instinct.

All day it never stops,
continuing for half the night.
How I deluge you, and myself,
though my lips stay as still as a rock in a stream.

Leave, then, shaking your head, 
thinking "why doesn't she even try?"
I do nothing but talk, confide, confess,
but even as you go, I stay feral

and shy.
_______

for Magaly's "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" prompt at Real Toads.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Softer Heart

I cannot find my softer heart
by wing or dusk-light call.
I cannot find my softer heart
by barter or by broken bell.

I know you. You're the one I looked for every day.
You the face from miles away, you the wrong face anyway.

I cannot find my softer song.
by trick, by dawn, or water pond.
I cannot find my softer song
but still I whisper...on and on.
_______

for my own Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads. "Corvid and sit a while."     

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Space Heater

Well, it's April,
but not so long ago you needed me.
I came to you when you were a fucking moon, and I rented your chest
so that I could warm it like a real heart. 
I just wanted to get that close to your skin, your breasts, your every breath,
even though now I couldn't give a shit less, and sit on the shelf like an unread book.

Every volume contains what it contains, whether eyes share it or not.
Never mind. I'll pretend I never cared when you framed me with your perfect hands
and charged me red and utilitarian as hell. I'll lie lie upon lie,
and deny the cat rumble my throat devised on its own.
Or, I could admit everything, that I loved you, that it thrilled me,

That I would have done anything you asked just to hear the 
satisfaction in your slightest sigh.
It's April, though, and old biddies who bored everybody with their reminiscences 
have kindly died and shut up at last.
I'll do the same, just don't expect me to be
here on the shelf next time your fingers get itchy and something seems missing

under your ribs, in that immortal Novocaine blizzard.
_______

some of my usual bullshit for Sunny's prompt at Real Toads. "Write about love using a common everyday image."

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rain (An American Sentence)

I'd rather freeze my ass off in the fucking rain than read your haiku.

____

For the weekend mini-challenge at Real Toads. An American sentence is 17 syllables in linear order.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Babies In Prison

Babies in prison
become a problem.
The government is demanded upon
to show what they've got on them.

Meanwhile, infants behind bars
lie next to teddy bears with records.
The President arrives, with the skeletal warden
to investigate, harrumph, and mouth some several prepared words.

So young!
By a jury of diapered droolers convicted.
So done!
Like dinner, so some schmoe can get elected.

Babies in prison 
sit in swings for ten to twenty.
And politicians who admit their own crimes?
Sorry, we couldn't find any.
____

for Get Listed at Toads.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review: "I Liked My Life"

I Liked My LifeI Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Maddy, a wife and mother, appears to have jumped to her death from the roof of the local library, leaving her husband and teenage daughter to wonder why she felt her life was so unsatisfying that she would do that. The novel is written in shifting point of view--an almost inescapable trend anymore, and one I'm not particularly fond of--between Brady (the husband), Eve (the daughter), and (surprise!) Maddy herself, looking on from the afterlife, a la "The Lovely Bones."

The characters were believable and sympathetic, and there were several bits of real wisdom scattered along the way, so I have to say that this book was readable and pretty good. BUT. While I am not a fan of ambiguous, unclear endings, I also find books that end too neatly and sweetly a little off-putting. This one is like that.



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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Short Fingernails Rag

With white Mickey Mouse hands, I disguise my touch along your railroad bones.
If you feel a little goofy, ginned up, off-balance,
it's because I'm directing traffic inside your ears--
cartoon buses with walking tires jive to Cab Calloway, 
on a highway where I goon the intersection with my Mickey Mouse hands--

One finger for stop,
one for go,
and one for vo vo dee oh doe.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Loaf

Here is a loaf which is mostly nothing,
to put in your mouth, described the same.
When you feel empty, fill nothing with nothing
and be satisfied with such legerdemain.

Give me back words which symbolize something
but are, in themselves, nothing at all;
aren't we lucky, drenched in such 
a trove of quicksilver wherewithal?
_____

a flash 55 for Toads. "extremely close but worlds apart."