Poetry: Another Ode to Detroit by Raphael Jenkins

In “Another Ode to Detroit,” the speaker praises the mundane squalor and the extraordinary valor of the city of Detroit, Michigan. Never romanticizing, but always keeping it real: Jenkins skillfully paints a realist picture of a resilient city we can all see he deeply cares for.


Another Ode to Detroit

praise the sky graying this city & the

seagulls too dumb to leave before winter

praise the potholes & the cracked rims they birth

& the cluck who haunted the bus stop

at Larned & Congress shirtless

no matter the weather              definitely

praise that man too

praise the trap & the hedge of protection

when we visit praise every summer night

& every blunt matched in a momma’s basement

praise the kush & pearl game praise the aunties &

their dirty rice the bacon fat in the popcorn the Lawry’s too

praise the chili cheese fries when I’m hooch-twined

& the green lights leading me safely home

& to every shorty seeking a way out

without their momma weeping

in her high-church-black & veil

& to those already a sweet memory

on someone’s tongue



& praises be to this palace we’ve built

all wrought iron & sandwich bags

all dirt-floor & plastic ficus

praise our fingerprints holding it all together

praise the sirens still wailing the clinging

praise the fighters & the fists & the river

as she keeps trying to clean us & keeps on

failing praise her determination her foresight

praise the breeze in every hood

praise each telephone wire each spring

rain praise every early snowfall & snowball

fight leading to hands being thrown

praise to the city my young won’t suffer through

& to whose lips I’d wish kiss now if I could

the last time that tune wet my tongue

I sang for years           I’m still singing


Raphael Jenkins

Raphael prefers to go by Ralph, as he feels it suits him better and he’s heard every Ninja Turtle joke ever uttered. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Kentucky with his Boo-thang and their four-year-old boy. He is a chef by day and an essayist, poet, screenwriter in his dreams. He, like Issa Rae, is rooting for everybody Black. His work is featured or forthcoming on his mama’s fridge, his close friends’ inboxes, Hobart, 3 Elements Review, HASH Journal and Flypaper Lit. Follow him on twitter: @RALPHEEBOI

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