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IMAGE: Background Art: Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, 1932-1933, Detroit Institute of Arts.

If you want to think about Detroit

You have to think about the line

That is, the assembly line

Even if you never worked in a plant

The rhythm is the line.

Plenty of time for silent contemplation

Prayers, plans, dreams and songs

Working with all the others

Go when its go, stop when its stop

All of us in the same rhythm

In the same time

On the same line.

What! Take a break!

I’ll cover your job for a while

Hook ‘em up, gauge ‘em and hang ‘em

At 6 a minute I can do 2 jobs, give you a break

Or hang arms on the double

So you have an hour off

Then, I do too.

Cooperation is our way

We help and don’t ask, we do.

Our individual improvisations

Are like the jazz on the radio

Or the amphitheatre downtown at the festivals

Loud, strong, captivating, unique

Our pattern is together

Like a quilt,

Or a union on strike.

Detroit is the blues

You think about in church,

The jazz at Orchestra Hall

The library books we read in the park

The poems we recite

On the porch in the dark

Smoking joints, drinking pop or beer

It’s water right now

I’m surrounded

Trees and water

It’s their rhythms I hear.

While I stand on the line

Hooking up brake shoes

The wood floors swaying in water

The concrete magnifying the noise.

I need a break

From the brake shoe line

Oh its breaking my heart.

I’ve retired now

To a country house

Trees and leaves

Burning bush red in the late fall

My rhythm slow

But still on time.

Black Lives Matter

I chant with the rest

1-2-3-4  5-6-7-8  9-10-11

Fuck 12

My heart sings

Our movement moves forward


Stays in step

Even with the plants closed

We have

The rhythm of the line.