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  • Daniel G Opperwall

detroit (for j.)


(Photo by Travis Rupert)


Old bricks twist on shoes the same way

when the sidewalk is even rougher and we

walk in the street,

and the steam rises wintry

with that dankness

that nauseates summer

but is welcome in the cold.


The teeth of the glory days, those

buildings we never did break into, but passed

leaving crooked, white-knuckled,

they stand and some are clean

now, like we dreamed

they would be—like you knew

they would be,


palaces you re-designed

and put into your eyes rather than

sketching them;

someone must have seen.


Off in the east, the pheasants and elms are

still there—not as many—and the habitat houses

have aged into the neighborhood

and finally don’t stand out

and the market rings renovated

and the manhattans are still sweetest

when the jazz juxtaposes them, sharp.


The bars still serve your cheap Labatt’s

at a discount (if you come back),

scofflaw-cigarette-smoke

smells best—clouds things,

even if the hockey sucks now

on the TV,

Stanley Cup years aging on the wall.


It’s found, everything, it’s

findable to an old-enough eye

as if to say we don’t need memory;

it’ll remember itself for us.

We left it well enough. To the hipsters and the

black natives and the dinks,

pan-handlers, Greek restaraunteurs

(who don’t serve Greek food anymore),

the Mexicans

and whatever’s left of the Poles.

It’ll remember itself for us.


But it knows that you are dead.

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