I'm driving home
from work late August
in my '68 Satellite down factory row
with Odie who's trying to grow
a mustache and trying this minute to light
a joint. He worked JAWS today,
the broacher that once ate a man's hands.
His hands are fine as he strikes
the Seventh Floor," a song
about being stuck in an elevator
with a beautiful woman, blasts
from my radio's only station
and I sing loud
for the first time in years, maybe
because Odie sings as bad as I do
or because I have a fat check in my pocket,
or because my job is like being stuck
in an elevator, so this song is alright by me.
Santino's on vacation,
and his sub here
who looks like Dick Cavett
took us to Dept. 16 today,
the department of heavy lifting and misery.
I told him Hell no.
Odie's doing his Cavett imitation
but he's laughing so hard he can't say a word
so it seems like he's doing
his Crazy Wally imitation -- Crazy Wally
who has never been on network television
works with us, constantly stoned and laughing
like that, and Odie, who has also never been
on television but does pretty good imitations
now mocks my anger at Cavett
making my Hell no sound
like a sonic boom.
We had to work in
Dept. 16 anyway
throwing axle housings onto pallets
but when the line broke down
Cavett sent us home early,
early enough so when we get to my house
we take pictures of each other, happy
with a couple extra hours of energy
and light, and I'm standing
in the driveway holding a beer
headphones over my nose, laughing,
shouting Hell no when Odie pushes
the button down.
Jim Daniels is a
Detroit-born poet who has published four volumes of poetry, much of
which focuses on the experience of life and work in and around the city.
He is also the editor of Letters to America: Contemporary American
Poetry on Race, and the author of a book of short stories. A professor
of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he received
the 1985 Brittingham Prize for Poetry.
A frequent visitor
to his hometown, Jim remains an active force in the community of art
and poetry. He often lends his voice and work in support of social and
Detroit Focus is
very pleased to have his work in this collection.