In Detroit, Dead Musicians Still Kill for a Set

by | Apr 26, 2016 | Poetry

The music penetrated the paintingsonthe                 w a l ls
and the m a g i c voicesfromthe paintings blend
with the   v o i c e s at the o p e n – m i c j a m
s e s s i o n, and we a l l sweated,                       smoldering
in the steam of hot cat fish, collards, and   baked
mac & cheese, adding         more fingerprints to
the stained menus. Wanting what other   patrons
at other tables smack on. E n t e r s a   dancing-
man leaning on metal cane.   He can’t stop what
the d r u m m e r is aching at,   what the b a s s
player’s doing live and has bleeding fingers for,
what t h e Marvin Gaye cover guy is p u t t i n g
on us like a welt. It’s D-town’s r e constructi o n , and
the paintings on the walls , rum and coke                 happy,
harmonize     until they s w e a t out   oh yeahs,
hallelujahs,           and       gawd         damns, as
s t a c y adams, high   heels, and even the           broke
h a n d – m e – d o w n s s m a c k hard on the
b l a c k     and w h i t e tile like it’s a                  s w e a t y
woman’s   f i r m   ass. “Oh   y e a h!       It is!”


Photo by Chris Gilmore

About The Author

Curtis Crisler

Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Theatre, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and he received an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has two poetry books out: Don’t Moan So Much (Stevie): A Poetry Musiquarium (Kattywompus Press) and “This” Ameri-can-ah (Cherry Castle Publishing). His recent poetry chapbook Black Achilles (Accents Publishing) was released in 2015. His previous books are Pulling Scabs (nominated for a Pushcart), Tough Boy Sonatas (YA), and Dreamist: a mixed-genre novel (YA). Other chapbooks are Wonderkind (nominated for a Pushcart), Soundtrack to Latchkey Boy, and Spill (which won the 2008 Keyhole Chapbook Award). He is the recipient of a residency from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P), the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Soul Mountain, and guest resident at Hamline University. He edited the nonfiction book, Leaving Me Behind: Writing a new me, on the Summer Bridge experience at IPFW. Crisler received a Library Scholars Grant Award, two Indiana Arts Commission Grants, the Eric Hoffer Award, the Sterling Plumpp First Voices Poetry Award, and was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award. His poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago, and he has been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and anthologies. He is Contributing Poetry Editor for Aquarius Press, and one of the Poetry Editors for Human Equity through Art (HEArt). Crisler is an Associate Professor of English at IPFW.