Cheese Lines, Flint, Michigan
Gray lines of women at the North Flint Plaza
Waiting their due, surplus cheese and butter
We can't use, the lines that shuffle
Down the weed-split sidewalks,
Past the boarded-up display windows
Of the Fair, United Shirt, Nobil Shoes,
While at the curb monstrous green Buicks
Idle and rust. The day is overcast,
Threatening drizzle, feinting autumn
And further calamity. I drive by, this,
My old neighborhood, this shopping center
Our hangout, a pack of Luckies secreted
Behind a loose brick, our leather jackets
With The Royals on the back,
Our pointed Flagg Bros. shoes, and duck ass hair.
We the pioneers. These the women we went
To school with who never moved away,
Whom we never spoke to, let alone dated,
Or whom we desired, but never let on.
Flint, a city as hard and abrupt as its
Quick-bitten name. Home of Chevy-in-the-Hole,
Where men like my father got used to days
Etched thin and gritty as Mohawk vodka
And steel shavings in their aching hands
And little wretched patches of back-yards
Where they maybe played catch
With their kids before the noon whistle.
See how easily those women are forgotten?
Even in poems devoted to their bad luck.
— Danny Rendleman