Three Detroit Poems / Allan M. Jalon

Detroit, Love, Mine

Rereading Kafka’s letters to Felice

in a bookstore of this city far

from home as clouds in a low sky

out the window decide to be light or dark,

I follow his pushing, pulling, for

and against her, until he’s paralyzed and it ends.

My love for Mary starts to seep

from my bones, down their grainy

hard surfaces, drips through cracks,

from outcroppings, into caves

black with no source of inner light

until it pools and, glistening, catches me

by surprise.


November Landing

The earth was made beautiful

and useful.

Now November drags red purples,

orange yellows out of branches

over flat Michigan.

They’re working hard

to be radiant beside the airport as I land,

to send their message from the earth

to the sky.


It’s written into the blacktop to expose

these colors by total contrast

between its paved darkness and the tactile

eruption of landscape,

between my destination and me,

still free from the ground.

Soon, I’ll be among the runways, then

will leave them for long avenues that ease

my way to sprawl.

River Bar

By Jefferson’s broken pavement,

bald lots and towers of dark glass,

tankers crowd the river as if it were a highway.

In the River Bar, a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl

who works nights is beautiful.

Has anyone told her?

Does anyone know?

Oh, Detroit!

Beauty is bred by a leisure

you do not have.