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
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.
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.
i have had the opportunity to meet a lot of ‘famous’ poets and writers. it just happened sometimes. other times i ‘hung out’ until they pitied me or something. the great inspiration i received from being around those celebs is that i realized they were just like me. with the one exception that they had put their dreams of a walter mitty life down on paper. so i started doing what they did. ok. not anywhere near as successful. i held the straight jobs all my life to pay the bills. but i wrote every day. every day.
not making it as a poet…
the sweetness of
a fresh peach
conversations with myself
i always wanted to learn music. never did.
just contrails is all
an invisible spectator
it is important to observe yourself. but the trick is to watch each present moment from a distance. yes. i did say it was a ‘trick’. but it can be done. the largest mansions are not in the hamptons or in heaven. those really beautiful mansions are in your mind. i like living in my mansion and looking out the windows of my eyes on my life. i see it. i record it. but i cant judge it. and that is the ‘trick’ i refer to. if you spend time in judgement you are not really investing in the present moment. being there is actually the only tactic for the dedicated spectator. dont try to think past it either. you see the future is dependent on the present in order to become.
flickers all night
beauty walks a razors edge
when my flesh turns into a wisp of smoke. everything will become quiet again. wherever i begin this journey i will return to that very place. equanimity brings its own peace. nothing in that space is partial or judgemental.
the elf on the shelf
flies to reno
blue river running slow and lazy
they built a new bridge over the outlet of a lake near my home. the dam at the outlet was closed for the construction. the outlet flows through a state park and fills the marsh. i was impressed at how much care they took to keep anything from the project getting into the marsh. we needed that bridge but the marsh is ten times as important to the wildlife and entire system. In spring this patient little stream turns into a raging river and jumps fifteen feet at the end where it falls to meet lake huron. but in the early fall it was a trickle until they finished the project. this year it rained more than usual and the marsh did not seem to lose an inch. nature managed her part of the project just fine too.
on the river rocks