A wonderful reading tonight by Jacqui Au, Frances Barber, Julie Patton, Matthew Polzin and Dennis Teichman, in a dim-lit room. A mis-step in the camera made a gold Frances Barber. A video to follow of Julie Patton’s performance. Thanks Ugly Ducking Presse (Detroit) + Salt & Cedar for this. More readings to come.
"48222," published in 1979 in Detroit.
Left: Painting by Robert Sestok
Right: A poem by Ken Mikolowski
Read it at Trinosophes
Small Press Distribution table at UDP:D.
Open for business, fridays and saturdays, 10 to 5.
Hey Detroit: UDP:D is open for business at Salt and Cedar. You can find Salt & Cedar in Eastern Market at 2448 Riopelle Street. Matvei Yankelevich is curating several readings there. Learn about it here.
ONE-EYED MICHELE AND THE KIDS: A SLICE OF LIFE
Walking down through my old hood heading to my regular spot to cop my shit, I had been regularly running into this chick who was probably a few years older than me but looked at least a dozen years older. She rode an old school bike, tattered with only one gear and no brakes. It was more of a child’s bike but it got her around. Michele was her name and I still run into her at gas stations asking people for change sometimes. Michele has had it hard enough. She lost one eye in a car accident and the streets have not treated her well. “The streets are not good to women,” as one broad I know and love used to claim. Michele comes from a small town next to my own hometown, which back in my day was considered the sticks. She keeps her missing one eye closed most of the time to hide the fact that her fake glass eye rolled away long ago. For all I know a crack dealer may have thought it funny to trade a nickel rock of cocaine for the glass eye she had. I can just picture some dealer on the street knowing that Michele is sick as a dog for some heroin and the dealer offering her a pack of dope for the glass eye right out of her socket is purely for the dealers entertainment. The young dealers are the worst, they want to be the soldiers, want to prove themselves a badass. They’re dangerous and I dont do business with them, unless I have to of course. I’ve heard young dealers like that trade a small $5 rock for the entertainment of someone else’s embarrassment or even pain. One offered a jonesin’ addict a fix if he could punch him in the face as hard as he could and the addict got high that night. It all reminds me of the disparity of what happens in a warzone, and this is war, the infamous war on drugs.
Michele has stringy straight dishwater blond hair which keeps its shape from the natural oils not washed off by even a regular shower. She might have a sip of beer but I’ve never seen her drunk. Rock and heroin are her DOCs (drugs of choice) but she wont hook on the street. Somehow she has drawn the line there. For her age the wrinkles are her biggest setback or possibly asset. Michele looks very street worn with her tattered cloths, pitiful bike, one working eye and the wrinkles only years of abuse can manufacture. Michele can make better money panhandling with her looks than she could clean cut with two working eyes and skin that has seen care.
I ran into Michele on a regular basis near the dope houses in my neighborhood and she always found an abandominium to squat in nearby. She was always hanging out with a younger kid, all but about 20 years old, but I didn’t know why. Jason was always hanging out in a vacant house around the way doing his drugs and Michele was never too far away. Jason is a good looking kid, kept his hair cut but seemed to live with Michele. I soon noticed there wasn’t just one Jason but two. I had been getting the two kids hanging around with Michele mixed up and soon realized Michele had two sons in their early twenties who looked quite alike. It was your typical single parent crack smokin’, heroin shootin’, inner city Detroit family. Jason and Tyler were their names. Every time I’d seen them the first words out of there mouth was “can you spare a smoke?”, but I never noticed they were not the same person. They were only a year or two apart and looked like twins to me in my own drug induced haze with my own one working eye.
Jason and Tyler still hang out sometimes but for a few years they lived in abandoned houses with no power, water, or heat except for a few candles and each others body warmth under the covers in the winter months. Jason has since been in the Livingston County jail for a year. Tyler still brings his little sixteen year old girlfriend down to smoke crack but usually doesn’t stay too long. Tyler is the one who has it together as far as that family’s concerned.
Earlier this past summer, Michele and I had become friends of sorts. I tried to help her get her ID so she could apply for a Bridge Card and possibly disability but she has a hard time doing the legwork. We were walking down Chene Street when she burst out in tears. “Im pregnant. What am I going to do?” After learning she was already three months in and smoking crack through the whole trimester, I didn’t have much hope for anything. Dad was a crack fiend as well so there was no answer there. I told her where to go to possibly take care of the situation but she hasn’t wanted to speak on the subject since then, and I dont blame her. Somehow, someone intervened and there is not another addicted baby waiting for someone to take it in, but there are still two there. (Posted on October 30, 2013)
GAY CRACKHEAD WITH A BOX CUTTER GETS THE BEST OF ME
I was living in a warehouse in Oakland. The building was originally built for building ships for WWII. Over the years the area of West Oakland had deteriorated into a Detroit-like landscape. A local artist and piano mover, Steve Heck, had taken over a portion of this building called “The Pheonix.” Steve and his crew had built small rooms and performance spaces throughout the building he rented. As the years went on it dwindled down to a space for speed freaks and boozers. I came into the place while on tour with the Grateful Dead after a show at Shoreline. I met this cat who was heading up to the Eel River for Reggae on the River. I decided to tag along instead of heading South to L.A. where the Dead were playing next. The dude who let me come with him was a bit of a rich boy, he had no real need to live in the warehouse he brought me to but he did. I instantly fell in love with the place; 50 foot ceilings and over 200 pianos adorned the walls, in fact, the pianos actually made the walls as Steve was a piano mover by trade. I met the boss Steve and we hit it off. We were both drinkers of whiskey and I at the time had been clean off heroin for over a year. Steve introduced me to the crew of tweekers, scientists, musicians, artists and good old fashioned freaks straight from the sixties. We all hit it off well and I found a small room tucked up into one of the corners of the building to be my own.
Living drunk is a lot of fun and I took it seriously. I was about twenty-three and I wanted fun. I had left my camera behind in Michigan so I started to write. I was on the Bukowski kick that many young wannabees jump into while in their 20’s. I wrote every night with a fifth of whiskey and read out loud in the middle of the night to my roomies whatever had come out of my pen. Sometimes the guy upstairs would throw down cigs for me, sometimes the warehouse just got deathly quiet. The biggest compliment I ever got from my night time readings was from a tattooed rocker in leather and stockings, makeup, and brill cream in his hair. He said “that one was pretty good.”
We lived in total reference to ourselves; we drank, we did drugs, we shared as best we could with each other but not to the point of denying ourselves first. It was a “fuck you” to the sixties. There we shared everything because we all knew that trying to share wouldn’t last.
Middle of the day one summer afternoon I was trying to sleep off my hangover when I heard a rattling outside the building. I peeked out the window and I saw gay crackhead Anthony trying to pull a part off of a car in front of our building. I got up pissed that he woke me up and pissed this gay crackhead motherfucker was trying to steal from us. I went downstairs and into the parking lot where I found him trying to pry off a sideview mirror from one of the cars in our lot. I was pissed and ready to go. I grabbed him by the collar of his dirty crackhead T-shirt and told him what I thought of him and where he should go. Anthony and I were between two cars with my back to the wall where I was trapped. Anthony didnt take kindly to my bitchin and pulled a box cuter. The neighborhood kids were there in the street by then, cheering on the black man, screaming “cut him Anthony, cut him!” I was wondering how I got myself into this situation while at the same time trying to kick him with my new Doc Martins wherever I could. I saw him with that box cutter come down at my leg with one fell swoop. I didnt really notice a thing until Anthony realized what he had done to me. I had, in the mean time, picked up a shovel and was now in the middle of the street waving it at him. Then I looked down at my leg and realized why he had given in so easily, he had slashed a 12” gash down the front of my shin and blood was running down my leg as if a tap had been opened. The kids in the street went silent when they realized what they had been shouting for had really happened. Anthony went away and my friend took me to the hospital where I received eighteen stitches.
Funny thing is that the entire time I lived there in The Phoenix I only had two intense events like that; the day I moved in when a different crackhead pulled a steak knife on me in some weird instance and my last day when Anthony cut me with a box cutter. That was my last day at the Phoenix warehouse. I pulled out my stitches a couple of weeks later in Eugene. (Posted on September 7, 2011)
TWO STORIES courtesy of Matthew Loflin Davis. Davis is a writer and sculptor living in Detroit. Since 2010, he has periodically blogged on his life as an addict at JUNKY CHRONICLES. [sic] Press will release a collection of these writings in March 2014. Image courtesy of Matthew Loflin Davis. TWO STORIES/POEMS is an online initiative from [sic] Press.
A photograph from photographer Lena Herzog and aeronaut Graham Dorrington’s sketchbook “Airship.” The series details Dorrington’s dream of “pure, silent, slow flight over the jungle treetops,” which was documented in Werner Herzog’s film The White Diamond.
He carries those dead suitcases
'round and 'round
smoking eyes and
break dancing for less than
minimum wage in 15 degrees
throwing up hope next to cigarette burnt
window sills, without any glass
floating in and out of a fun house
without any mirrors
trying not to tick
while time tocks
laughing at the thought of laughter
He carries those dead suitcases
I’m overwhelmed by my own arrogant nightmares
Powerless to the lies of angels
Barefoot, I’m walking through deathly hollows
filled with a burning desire to fly
whose to say my red, yellow, and blue
won’t ever get to taste the pink, purple, and white
they cry for.
as these words break their backs in barren lands
thirsting for that forbidden fruit
so that I too would be able to clothe my nakedness
as if I am Adam, while
longing to be Eve
echoes in my ruptured soul, but
I’m deaf in one ear.
crying a river
in which my own hopes and dreams
struggle to stay afloat
drifting off in a garden of tulips
adjacent to an elephants graveyard
my smile just a hopeless facade
and once again
I’m overwhelmed by my own arrogant nightmares.
TWO POEMS courtesy of Bernard Monroe. Monroe is a member of Writer’s Block, a poetry organization and workshop located in the Macomb Regional Correctional Facility.
TWO POEMS is an online initiative from [sic] press.