1. Detroit Grease Shop Poem

    Four bright steel crosses,
    universal joints, plucked
    out of the burlap sack —
    "the heart of the drive train,"
    the book says. Stars
    on Lemon’s wooden palm,
    stars that must be capped,
    rolled, and anointed,
    that have their orders
    and their commands as he
    has his.

    Under the blue
    hesitant light another day
    at Automotive
    in the city of dreams.
    We’re all here to count
    and be counted, Lemon,
    Rosie, Eugene, Luis,
    and me, too young to know
    this is for keeps, pinning
    on my apron, rolling up
    my sleeves.

    The roof leaks
    from yesterday’s rain,
    the waters gather above us
    waiting for one mistake.
    When a drop falls on Lemon’s
    corded arm, he looks at it
    as though it were something
    rare or mysterious
    like a drop of water or
    a single lucid meteor
    fallen slowly from
    nowhere and burning on
    his skin like a tear.

    - Philip Levine

    *a classic poem about Detroit by Detroit poet and former poet laureate Philip Levine (interview here). On the show today, Charlie LeDuff talks about his book Detroit: An American Autopsy.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Philip Levine

    Detroit

    Charlie LeDuff