Friday, May 10, 2013

Flint Poems: Cheese Lines, Flint, Michigan by Danny Rendleman

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


  1. Ty for letting me read your talented & I liked the images you painted with your poem. Flint lifer from the westside.

    1. Yes. Evocative and touching poem. Thank you, Mr. Rendleman.


    The ever churning droning noise of my old factory town,
    It always existed, though more pronounced after the sun went down.
    Warm summer nights the moon beamed its light through the propped open windows screen
    Along with this sound which my ears always found but never considered its means.

    Passed down through labors of generations past providing my youths bliss
    At the time unrecognized how rare indeed an inheritance such as this.
    Gritty, dirty work for all, yet every family stood quite tall
    With pride in all their sweat and toil, a community to itself was loyal

    Today it only seems a dream that a place like this existed.
    I tell the tales to my children now only saddened that they’ve missed it.
    My old factory town, it’s crumbling down with nothing left to save her
    Oh what I’d give to hear that droning sound once more, now a fading time to savor.

  3. Eldridge LongfellowMay 14, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    I would have never thought such a masterpiece would have the North Flint Plaza as its subject. Please consider sharing more with us.

    (Just a technicality, but I know Federal's Department Store was in this plaza, the Taubman Company's first project believe it or not, but I'm quite certain that the Fair Store, as mentioned, was actually at the South Flint Plaza.)

    1. The Fair was actually at both the North and South Flint Plazas. I shopped at both stores over the years.

  4. The Fair was at the Northwest Flint Plaza at the SW corner of Pierson and Clio Roads. The only venue large enough for a store like that at the North Flint Plaza, at the NW corner of Pierson Rd and Detroit St, was occupied by the Federals store, which was still there when I left in the mid-60s.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at