Jack White Waxes Poetic on Detroit

Two years ago Jack White did what millions of people who found their personal priorities and financial situations changed: he left Detroit. Of course, most of those people did not build their careers and their personas on the image of the Motor City and its storied history of rough and tumble rock and roll, but still…who can blame a guy for moving on?

Well, it seems the Detroit music scene can blame him, and blame him they did. It seems to have reached a point where White had to respond. Leave it to Jack White to respond in a rather unconventional way.

In a poem titled “Courageous Dream’s Concern,” given exclusively to the Detroit Free Press, White namedrops some local landmarks and delicacies and tries to conjure up the soul of the city he says he still loves. Why move then, some might ask. White says it was the negativity of the local music scene, which might not come as a surprise to longtime GLONO readers.

“I couldn’t breathe anymore in that scene,” he told Rolling Stone magazine for a story last month about his band the Raconteurs.

White tells the Free Press that “those expressions of mine have never been a representation of my feelings about Detroit the city, a town that I have strong feelings about … nor were they expressions about its citizens.” Well, maybe SOME of its citizens…

Previously: Jack White Talks to the LA Times; Ben Blackwell on the White Stripes’ Nashville Debut; Jack White Sells Out of Detroit; Jack White Beats Up A Von Bondie; White Stripes Marriage License; White Stripes Divorce Certificate

‘Courageous Dream’s Concern,’ by Jack White

I have driven slow,
three miles an hour or so,
through Highland Park, Heidelberg, and the
Cass Corridor.
I’ve hopped on the Michigan,
and transferred to the Woodward,
and heard the good word blaring from an
a.m. radio.
I love the worn-through tracks of trolley
trains breaking through their
concrete vaults,
As I ride the Fort Street or the Baker,
just making my way home.

I sneak through an iron gate, and fish
rock bass out of the strait,
watching the mail boat with
its tugboat gait,
hauling words I’ll never know.
The water letter carrier,
bringing prose to lonely sailors,
treading the big lakes with their trailers,
floats in blue green chopping waters,
above long-lost sunken failures,
awaiting exhumation iron whalers,
holding gold we’ll never know.

I’ve slid on Belle Isle,
and rowed inside of it for miles.
Seeing white deer running alongside
While I glide, in a canoe.
I’ve walked down Caniff holding a glass
Atlas root beer bottle in my hands
And I’ve entered closets of coney islands
early in the morning too.
I’ve taken malt from Stroh’s and Sanders,
felt the black powder of abandoned
And smelled the sawdust from wood cut
to rehabilitate the fallen edifice.
I’ve walked to the rhythm of mariachis,
down junctions and back alleys,
Breathing fresh-baked fumes of culture
nurtured of the Latin and the
Middle East.
I’ve fallen down on public ice,
and skated in my own delight,
and slid again on metal crutches
into trafficked avenues.

Three motors moved us forward,
Leaving smaller engines to wither,
the aluminum, and torpedo,
Monuments to unclaimed dreaming.
Foundry’s piston tempest captured,
Forward pushing workers raptured,
Frescoed families strife fractured,
Encased by factory’s glass ceiling.
Detroit, you hold what one’s been seeking,
Holding off the coward-armies weakling,
Always rising from the ashes
not returning to the earth.
I so love your heart that burns
That in your people’s body yearns
To perpetuate,
and permeate,
the lonely dream that does encapsulate,
Your spirit, that God insulates,
With courageous dream’s concern.

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