Haibun 173

bags groove

i was blessed to be born in detroit michigan. yeah the murder city. home of corrupt politicians of both parties both genders and all races. hey if you are going to claim ‘soul’ you spread it around right. one thing we had on other cities including new york chicago and the city of angels was music. it was everywhere i went as a kid. lots of music. but i loved it all. all the greats played detroit because it supported them and taught them. new tricks all the time in detroit and the different genres all hung out together. downtown mostly but on the ‘line’ at the edge of the city as well. nothing like bakers keyboard lounge the masonic hall and orchestra hall. yeah the ‘d’ has always had a first class symphony too. motown jazz rock and roll and blues singers came from detroit as well. one was milt jackson the great vibraphonist who played with miles monk and coltrane. they called him ‘bags’ because he stayed up so late he always had bags under his eyes. one of the reasons was the all night ‘blind pigs’ that detroit was also famous for. they served regular liquor. not like the prohibition days but they stayed open all day sunday which was prohibited by law due to it being a ‘church’ day. but then they stayed open until four or five in the morning during the week too. long after the closing time for the legally licensed bars. they needed music and the musicians needed gigs. it was a perfect marriage. yeah they got raided. mostly the cops gave them tickets but stole the booze. somehow just a small sample ever made it into ‘evidence’. the system in the ‘d’ may have been more than just bent but the combination of good music too much booze and the rebelliousness of doing the forbidden became sewen into the fabric of the city. it has not changed to this day.

a trumpet squeals past a piano a race with no winners

Haibun 172

watermelon man

buying vegetables and fruit from a vendor in the alley behind her home. my grandmother loved everyone equally. if she was not born roman catholic she would have been a buddha. no one was beneath her. not even the old ‘colored’ man relegated to the alley. his watermelon slices were to die for. my grandma was a ‘pheasant german’ and spoke ‘low’ german not that ‘fancy stuff’. she was a maid for dozens of years to the wealthy. when my granddad who started at general motors at fifteen. after lying about his age in flint michigan rose to be an executive in the fisher building in downtown detroit they moved to grosse point woods. she never learned to drive. but my grandfather got a new cadillac every year. she still cleaned her house herself. immaculately by the way. my grandma went to church every day. our lady of the sea church. it was a block from her home. but she had my grandpa take her to the eastern market in detroit for fresh food and they went to the old catholic church in detroit. st. pauls it was. once a month for the german mass. she hugged everyone she met. old young poor rich drunk or sober. she was my champion and everyone elses too. i was never jealous of her attention to others. it was just her way. to see the good and to be the good.

the calm
of a breathless candle
in my heart

NOTE: My grandmother was Elizabeth Hinding, and both of my grandparents were examples for me to look up to. She spoke ‘broken English’ hence the structure of this haibun.