Monday, October 4, 2010

PlaceLit: Rhonda Welsh

My Only Home

By Rhonda Welsh

Detroit is my only home.
Child of the west side...
Majestic, Puritan, Elmhurst,
Linwood, Plymouth, Eight Mile
All the while
craved a
different existence
but finally realized
Detroit is who I am.
Good students teased for acting too white
while the suburbs scream too black.
Neighborhoods who know no lack
always labeled poor.
Detroit was once much more than…
Dirty streets. Corrupt politicians.
Perverted superstitions
make some people treat books
like bad ju ju.
But my Detroit is not that simple…
Kind-hearted hustlers work day and night.
Make a dollar out of fifteen cents.
The auto industry came and went
but true Detroiters always make it work.
Saturday greens from Eastern Market
and a new hat from Mr. Song.
You can't go wrong on Sunday mornings
shouting and rocking
until the blues melt away.
Detroiters always seek
a brand new day.
Even our skyline boasts a Renaissance.
And the summer…
Caribbean Picnic on Belle Isle,
Moonlit concerts at Campus Martius,
and greasy fish fingers
clap to the beat
with sandal clad feet
at the African World Festival.
Poetry is everywhere.
Music Hall, Scarab Club, 1515 Broadway,
even at the Y-M-C-A.
Detroit is no longer in its heyday,
but its days are not finished yet.
There is much more life.
More pride runs through the veins.
Soon the activists must rise and take the reins.
Restore what has been lost.
No longer give thought
to those who diss and dismiss.
It is not a wasteland.
There are families here.
Educators, doctors, lawyers,
butchers, bakers,
yes, even candlestick makers reside in Detroit.
Shake off depleted self-esteem
that hangs over the city like a cloud.
Shout the city's praises out loud
and recognize its worth.
Induce the new birth.
Invoke that migrant spirit
transplanted from red earth.
Don't let it die an unnatural death.
Purge the dross and rebuild the best.
Detroit is the only home I've ever known.

©Rhonda Welsh 2010
from the book Red Clay Legacy

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