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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking to Edit a Poem

I first submitted this poem to some publication back in September and sadly, I didn't win $500. I don't think this is my best work, but I'm looking to edit it and need some feedback. Here is the poem:

Lines From Seeing Detroit For the First Time
(From an Amtrak Bus)

Detroit,
hazy as the bright
May yellow sun shone
through the
bus’s dirt stained
windows.

Grape Faygo,
cold, a nice
gift from the lady
in the train station
that sat quietly
in Toledo,
sits sweating
in my warm hands.
Twiztid blasts
through my ear buds,
though I turn it off
to talk to locals
returning home.
My red backpack
sits on
the ground, a
rest for my
shoulders—
I know that
today
I will be
figuring my
way around Motown;
a reprieve now
before the back break.

Welcome!
To the Motor City!
the water tower read.
I was expecting
to see abandoned
houses and
buildings crumbled
to the ground,
much like
what our media
loves to paint.
But,
to my surprise,
I see
a vibrant city,
like a Phoenix,
rising from the ashes
to its former glory.
High rise buildings
glisten in the sun,
breaking free
from a long,
monotonous winter.
Graffiti scribbles
introduce me
to the urban jungle.

The hustle and bustle,
we sit in traffic
for an eternity,
but my bus mates
are friendly
and welcome
me to Detroit.
When we finally
park on Woodward Avenue,
departing from
the friendly folks
and their families
I get to meet—
I start eastward
and head to the
first restaurant I see:
 Motown Coney Island
to plan my adventure
through Detroit’s

concrete jungle.


I am thinking when I edit, I might expand upon just the visual. As I was telling friends, Detroit is notorious for the assumption that all Detroiters are nasty thugs that are leeches. Though there are some people there like that (but, that's true in any city/town), I met a lot of nice people while I traveled there. Of course, I was very aware of my surroundings and didn't let my guard down. But, when you go on a trip, you can't just NOT talk to the locals. As much as we hate to admit, interacting with the locals are a must on any trip, though we are safe about it. Locals can add to our trips and I'm one to believe that there are a lot of good, just as there are a lot of bad, people out there. Nice locals make interesting conversations and give tips on cool local places to go to. They're vital for trips.

The few nice people I met while there, they put a smile on my face with the memories of the two days I visited. I remember when I was finished at the Motown Museum, I had to wait for the bus. As I waited for the bus, a black woman in a wheelchair rolled to the stop and we began talking. I asked her how if the Google directions of getting from Detroit to Roseville by bus was correct. She looked at the directions and said, "Hold on, let me call SMART!" She called SMART and as I was talking to her about the directions I had, I pronounced Gratiot wrong. I pronounced it in a French way, "Grate-i-oh" and she was confused. Gratiot is a major high way in Detroit. Needless to say, 5 minutes in of trying to get directions and me mis-pronouncing "Gratiot," the lady said, "let me see that map!" I handed it over and she exclaimed, "it's GRAT-ET!" We laughed at my pronunciation for a good five minutes, but I did get the right directions and to my hotel in Roseville. I still laugh at that. I think I will laugh about that incident for a long time. Do you think that should be put in a poem? I also want to put some other conversations and other instances of interactions with people. Maybe interactions would make this poem come alive?

Though, I love the conversations I had with these young black boys when I was waiting for the bus in front of the courthouse, to head to the Motown Museum. I would say they were 18 or 19 and it was interesting to get their take on the local culture (I was curious) and what else I should check out while I am here. Then when I was on the bus, this middle age man talking to me and pointing out where I should get out because DDOT ends at 8 Mile Road, where SMART picks people up to go to the burbs. One guy on the bus said, "You don't know where that is? Haven't you seen Eminem's 8 Mile movie?" With me replying, "Yeah, 12 years ago." He then said I looked concerned about 8 Mile Road. Fortunately, when I arrived there, a SMART bus was waiting. I thanked the one guy for his help. Then in Roseville, talking to this middle aged white man in Starbucks and him telling me that I seem excited about Roseville (when I was still planning to move there) and he wished more young people felt excited about that town, to get it back on track. He sounded hopeful, but there was also a tinge of sadness in his voice. But, I guess that is true for a lot of places in a post-recession America. 

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