MUSED Literary Magazine.
Poetry

Detroit Rebellion, 1967: The Fire at Honest Joe's Paint Shop, on the Corner of 12th and Taylor

Paul David Adkins

raced towards Supreme Linoleum and Paint,
then Superior Beauty and Barber Supply,
while Ladder 28 idled on the sidewalk.

A woman hunched in a doorframe with a bucket.

Firemen slapped the trashed asphalt with hoses,
then cowered beneath a shower of flaming hardwood lacquer.
Boiling drums of turpentine
burst each window in turn,
christened the walks below.

But the Guardsmen keened for snipers
and charging men intent on splitting
the stretched hoses with box cutters and hatchets,

while teenagers two streets over
set their Zippos to Martin’s Pharmacy,
pounded shapeless the hydrants with street signs.

Reporters repeated, “War,” “Warzone,” “Wartime,”
what the cops and Guardsmen said,

while the firefighters dodged live wires,
those spitting cobras,
prayed for rain that sunny day

as bullets spattered the engine’s cab,
punched through curves on the 2,
pierced the bull´s-eye 8.