The following pieces are from D.A. Lockhart’s upcoming collection, Tukhone, to be published this fall by Black Moss Press. These are haibun that use Detroit’s most renowned musicians and musical acts to explore the physical spaces of the city in its contemporary context.
Èhëliwsikakw Wëntxën Crosses Tukhone Sipu, Sings Between Highrises
after Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind”
Near midmorning, sun low enough to make even blue glass skyscrapers turn grey, I walk from LaFayette south on Griswold. Wind tossing discarded flyers, hot dog wrappers, paper smoothie cups, into flight across car-choked streets, gusting past second and third-story windows. Here the city maintains the same flow from Reuther to Bieber to King and the wind push of ancestors stirs it all. That push and stir comes against us and the things we plant into the earth, it courses up stream, howls medicine songs between hard edges of monuments to recent collected mythologies: Penobscot, Buehl, and Champion. I am wrapped in it. Every part nostalgia and every part pride, every bit knowing we were young and we were strong. But despite that fact, and we pray our appearances, we have aged. I feel it. Motions are more laboured, more hollow, more in keeping with ritual than in necessity. Across Jefferson, and with each step I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. From UAW headquarters through the Tri-Centennial Wheel, this motion through half-busy urban setbacks is carried partially by wind, partially by habit. Habit that is comforting. Habit arrived through age. Wind that is driving. And I confess into the fountain at the centre of Hart Plaza that I was living to run and running to live. But here is home, here is the earth that I feel roots need to be pushed downward. At the plaza, I am older now and still running against the wind.
across the water
casino light burns red
mimes sun beyond bridge.
Through Darkness the Light Returns to Michigan Central Station
after Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise “Train”
Rain falls in guitar riffs, echoing back through lopsided benches, uneven sidewalks, and trees left for wild. I walk Roosevelt Park after the first cold rain of Alaihëna Kishux. This rain the same that for decades has provided a processionly slow return to the Carolinian forests that city planners and politicians fear more than the sequel to Pontiac and Bloody Run. Through the darkness of a park that knows of human footfalls in passing and in shared mythologies, I move to the crooked lights lining the curb sides. Above us all, the hulk of last century’s train station, the ever vigilant spectre above Springwells Treaty land. Rumours of four-story basement oceans and poltergeists of graffiti artists, ruin porn hunters, and crackheads swirl in decayed plaster dust you can smell from across the street. Standing here beneath its bulk, I gaze upon the backlit darkness of what a generation of corporation sub-division sprawl left us on this stolen land. Silent in falling rain patter, there is little left for crying my heart out. I wonder, I think I can hear that old whistle blowing. And it arrives in a crescendo of full orchestrated rock blues band in the triple flash then hold of a return ten stories above a Vernor Highway puddle.
Deeper black where
abandoned station rises. Way up,
windows burn to life.
Engine Block Love at All Night Coney Island
after the Detroit Cobra’s “Hittin’ on Nothing”
Before us, our city outstretched in yellowed-light slumber, greets us. Mile after suburban mile and it’s curbsides and medians awash in engine block love. Every bit of warmth, every caress, cast off from metal on metal collisions, each with growing entropic heat, brattles in, releases in Ford Avenue traffic. Late night parade of taillights between suburban tavern stops, late night pot dealer runs, and the hot clumsiness of dark bedrooms with the right type of strangers. This the back story to the Bell’s Two-Hearted fueled moves I make on the improbable brunette with the cardinal arm sleeve. She answers my moves with a look that speaks to third law thermodynamics and the soft way strong women answer “you can keep your sweet talk.” National Coney Island dinner stools our post-bar early morning anchors to a world that shall move behind closed eyelids. Two plates of coney detritus and in the glimmer of food cooled blood, I can hear in a cockeyed smile and arched back tease, you ain’t hittin’ on nothing unless you got something for me.
Pies orbit around
fluorescent light tubes. Two
sugar pie slices, removed.
To That Which Plays Watch over the Spring Wells
after The White Stripe’s “Hotel Yorba”
Between warehouses and car part suppliers, we search for fresh water trickles from inland karstian salt wells. We witness the Fisher Freeway carved low and shallow through this old treaty land signed over by Toctowayning, Lamahtanoquez, and Matahoopan. We glide through fractured neighbourhood streets, staring down classic Midwestern houses, past curb fulls of last decades automobiles. Watching with one eye to the other side of the river, imagining the reasons we don’t connect our dissonant world, we move atop land we no longer can claim as wholly ours. The Dodge Stratus beneath us, with blown suspension, rattles back against cracked curbs, chipped paint homes, and dried-out neglected yards of the village become foyer to industrial park. Despite knowing better we chant “All they’ve got inside is vacancy.” As that last line lingers and we round the last trees of Clark Park, we witness the broad bulk of the hotel built for bridge workers. Sign, backlit in pigeons and mid-afternoon clouds, glares down upon us. Dares creation for a move.
from bridge tower to Fort,
puffs chest before traffic.
About the author: D.A. Lockhart is the author of multiple poetry collections including Devil in the Woods (Brick Books 2019) and Tukhone (Black Moss Press 2020). His work has appeared in the Best Canadian Poetry in English, Grain, Tulane Review, The Malahat Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Belt Magazine, Dalhousie Review, TriQuarterly, and The Journal among others. He is a recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts grant for Aboriginal People and Ontario Arts Council grants for his poetry. He is a graduate of the Indiana University – Bloomington MFA in Creative Writing program where he held a Neal-Marshall Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. He is the publisher at Urban Farmhouse Press based out of Windsor, Ontario, Canada and poetry editor for the Windsor Review. He is a member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation.