"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Remembering Detroit

Remembering Detroit

After the riots, it was never the same.
Stately houses trashed and burned,
Vacant lots and abandoned cars,
Left to rust and slowly die.
Still home to a few poor and needy,
With nowhere else to go!
Stores with barred windows,
Looking like cages, waiting….
Crack houses selling false pleasures,
Kids playing beside uncollected trash,
Unnoticed by those who pass.

Michigan Ave. is the main drag,
From Dearborn into the city.
Pass Tiger Field along the way.
Once a busy commercial strip,
Now a line of decaying memories.
Flesh peddlers waving, thumbing,
Sell you whatever you want,
Without any hope for tomorrow.

Woodward Ave. takes you north,
You can take the bus to Pontiac.
Memories of once big parades,
And Saturday nights, cruising.
‘50s and early ‘60s, those were the days,
Big 3 made ‘em, with lots of chrome.
Home for GM, Ford and Chrysler,
Their assembly plants everywhere.
Hamtramck provided the labor.
Unions provided the unrest.

Motown Sound had it down,
Had everybody grooving.
Bridge to Canada, got you out of town,
To whiskey, and casinos, across the river.
Watch the oar boats sliding by,
Steel mills and foundries waiting.
Smoke stacks belching progress. 

July ‘67, “they” burned the city,
Never again, would it be the same.
Eight Mile Road, the big divider,
Going east and west, to the river.
Whites were safe, north side of eight,
Hoping the line would always hold.
Always fearing an encroachment,
Ruining those fond old memories,
Of gutted once-fine old mansions,
…Just to show their anger,
Destroying a once-proud city.

All you other big, big cities,
Need to take a closer notice,
Remember Ozymandias, and the ruins?
It could happen once again,
Because, the anger is still there,
Looking for someone else to blame.
After the riots, it was never the same!

Richard Standring has produced a chapbook of 14 poems, some of which are illustrated with photos. He is a writer of short stories, poems, essays and mystery novels. His latest collection of short stories: Somewhere Along the Way.

Cover photo by Justin McAfee on Unsplash

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