Saturday in Flint 1963
after we cleaned house,
scrubbed the car,
mowed the grass,
watched Mr. Magic and The Three Stooges,
we would go to the bread factory (was it Tastee Bread?)
for a loaf of fresh baked bread
hot off the line
wrapped in a clear cellophane wrapper
made cloudy by the steaming of the loaf,
a twist tie around the opening.
If we got to the factory
at just the right time
we would get a loaf for free.
Otherwise it was 25 cents.
The thing smelled so good
we hardly got it home
without tasting it.
So soft it tore
when you pulled it from the wrapper,
so moist it was hard to cut
and stuck to our teeth when we chewed.
The bread factory is gone now
as is the half of Bennett Ave that ran into the river,
replaced by an expressway (I-475?)
bridging deserted neighborhoods
to the canyon where DuPont Paint and Buick once breathed
the fumes of industry and financial security
into Flint air.
I opened a loaf of fresh bread
And OH!!! JOY AND WONDEROUS BLISS!!!
My mouth remembered
Saturday mornings on Bennet Ave in Flint.
© photo and poem by carole fults
It’s noon in Flint.
Somewhere within a black hole
known as a factory
choking workers listen for the shrill whistle
that releases them from the pit.
Someone wakes a sleeping worker
who lies drunk among pallets in the corner.
Someone else grabs a deck of cards
and heads for the lunchroom
where white bread, liverwurst and mayo sandwiches
are swallowed between puffs of cigarette smoke
and slurps of pop.
A few of the laborers go outside,crossing the crazed six lane highway
to douse themselves in lunch at the bar.
they go to Angelo’s Coney Island
where food is served in cardboard baskets
atop plastic plates.
Large jars of ketchup and mustard slide in their spillings
on dirty tables dressed with vinyl
and stains from coffee cups.
If you keep your eyes straight in the street
you won’t see the garbage wrapping itself around light poles
or clogging the drains in the gutters.
When it rains, the smoky dust turns to sludge
that sticks to your glasses, to your car, to your clothing,
slathering everything with a dull, sunless, stinky slate ash
that defies the most potent laundry soap,
that eventually smothers the trees, bushes
and your will to get up in the morning.
This town feels foul, like an unclean bathroom,
and sticky, like you’re trying to ice skate on flypaper.
But – if you go to Angelo’s and top your dog with enough chili and onions
you’ll maybe never notice the smelly afterbirth
of four wheeled motors
rolling off an assembly line.
poem © carole fults