Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chant 15 (way after Whitman)

--The passenger sits in 44G, beside the toilet. The flight attendant's husband is driving eight hours home to Albuquerque, because he likes to sleep in his own bed. He's too old for that.

--The distant relative whose son died young in California is not allowed to see her grandchildren; something about a will.

--The relative she'd never met says her father was "the accomplished one." Says his state hasn't had a governor for a year and a half because she wants a job with Obama. She counters that her governor worked for Sarah Palin. The dentist was an English major at Michigan. His wife's cousin died young in Honolulu.

--She will not, cannot, sleep between the bride and the groom, but they married. The minister, his degree purchased on-line, spoke about the Odyssey, Ulysses and Penelope, marriage as community. "That went right over my mother's head," one said.

--"It's not my mother-in-law, it's my wife's mother-in-law who is the problem." She still makes the strong one weep, the ex-drinker drink, the ex-smoker smoke. She says the forks and knives are wrong on the table, the grandson is not respectful, and the new President is "a Negro."

--The poet watched the Tour de France on his suburban television, rode his bike after.

--The young soldier in desert fatigues waits for his backpack to come round the airport carousel. He holds a small camouflaged pillow in his left hand, a cell phone in his right.

--Pigeons fly in and out of the top windows of the Detroit Free Press building. Inside an empty room the blown-up headline, "Men Land on the Moon" covers part of one wall.

--He and she broke up with him and him. He was a "user"; he was "manipulative." No TROs, but.

--The building with trees growing from the top, crude paintings in the windows, is due to be imploded.

--When she was there, they would not give her the courses she wanted to teach. When she was leaving, they offered them.

--The Greek man scoops chili and dogs in the window of Coney Island Hotdogs. Just down the street a man sits on the sidewalk, reading his Bible. Tourists arrive, speaking Italian; our Benedetto talks to them from the next table.

--The retired pressman constructs the Bounty in his garage, the scale larger than usual to aid his arthritic hands. He does not want detainees in a Michigan high security prison. The ship is for display; it will not float.

--The suburban houses are all, it seems, for sale. Three are abandoned up the street. The young man at Coney's handles foreclosed properties in the city. One on his list for $750. It's just a shell, he says; you have to fix it.

--The bride's mother weeps at rehearsal. "Stand at a 45 degree angle for the photos; I'll just take a few."

--The poets eat on their deck, talk about memory, the way it changes, public/private Facebook communication, the PDFs that will draft memoirs, the dangers of public private memories. Of lyrical essays about Detroit, all lament and no fact.

--Ichiro, in right field, constantly stretches. His practice throws stylized, his batting stance pigeon-kneed. He throws the Tigers' winning hit into the crowd.

--"My mother-in-law is terrible. She said awful things when Michael Jackson died."

--The young women talk in the restroom during the wedding reception. "He's got what he wants from you."

--On Belle Isle the diners are all white, the servers black. "I saw the mayor earlier." He played in the NBA. The island is all Canadian geese and pigeons, tall grasses. A middle-eastern couple walks toward the shore; a few black men fish; a woman barbecues for her daughter after the rain.

--The poet does not like the wisdom position. His interlocutor distrusts bitterness. "I understand that a lot better," he says. "You can't just fix it now."

--The middle-aged flight attendant is dating a man she probably doesn't want to marry. He lost his job; she feels sorry for him.

--His cousin lives in an artist house downtown. Farming is art in abandoned lots. He took video for Toyota; she takes photos for magazines in Birmingham. Her "own" photos are of naked women; they need to accept themselves as they are, she says. We wait for scallops, crepes. The man who makes my crepe drops the pan twice on the carpet.

--He's the only Asian at the wedding. When he friends me later, I see his name is Polish.

--The Ethiopian driver drives a burgundy van, puts on his dress hat. A cross hangs from the mirror, says Jesus loves us. The passenger asks what brought him to Detroit. He moved to Erie with his wife and six children (one his sister's); moved on to Detroit to get work. His wife stayed, a divorce. This bothers him, because he tried. Someone put him in touch with a woman back home. He is traveling to see his mother, marry this woman. A big trip. Please pray for him.

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