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Terence Winch

Alise Alousi: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

A Alousi  web





















Detroit 1998, a Reminiscence

after Eliot Weinberger


In Detroit there is no fresh fruit.


We eat with our eyes. Our children are strong as weeds. They learn the alphabet backwards and

grow up never wanting to leave.


Our streets are named for cigarettes, highways—winning lotto numbers. In Detroit we don’t

stop at stop signs and traffic lights never turn red. We crave the smell of gasoline.


There exists only one map of the city. The mayor keeps it facing the wall in his home and you

must pay a fee to look at it.


The casino coughs blood into the night sky and the incinerator wears a surgical mask.


In Detroit our smiles are crooked, our canine teeth sharp as diamonds or hard candy sucked

to a fine point.


When it rains the streets smell like tortillas and wine and we play games where you must gather

with only those who look exactly like you.


In Detroit vines grow out the doors and windows of the oldest churches and you must cross the

street or travel with a machete to pass them.


There are seven kinds of birds that gather by railroad tracks at noon and dusk. All the gardeners

in the city take turns watching over them.


In Detroit our factories sleep with one eye open, their histories written in code on internal



All our cats are feral. They live on the roofs of our public buildings. Packs of dogs have been

sent to unseat them.


For in Detroit there is a secret freeway with only one car, its headlights dimmed, and the sound

of its bass makes roadside flowers grow.


The river is full of socks, hijabs, bicycle tires. Old men fish for hours off the sinking pier.


There is one library in the city and it is open every other day for fifteen minutes. Once an entire

family was killed in a stampede.


In Detroit we cover our houses with fine mesh and ivy. Wild roses grow everywhere.


Alise Alousi is the author of the poetry collection, What to Count. She has worked for over two decades at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit and is a recipient of a 2019 Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship.     [For Eliot Weinberger, see this link.]


From the Detroit Industry Murals (1932–1933)  a series of frescoes by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. One of the Detroit Industry Murals (1932–1933), a series of frescoes by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, consisting of twenty-seven panels depicting industry at the Ford Motor Company and in Detroit. Together they surround the interior Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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