Senator Sanders in Detroit (aspiration)

Image of Penobscot Building in downtown Detroit by the author

We won’t see 7-cent gas again
so, no floor sweeper is going to sit
in the catbird seat of a spanking V8
(if they ever did)
EV batteries and computerized dashes
don’t deliver the kind of tumescent
fuel injection that powered Steve McQueen’s
Mustang Bill Hickman’s Charger or the Bandit’s
’77 Trans Am

The time has come
to rewrite the social contract
maybe even some
profit sharing

Once these were considered
good capitalist ideas
so, when Senator Sanders
says, ‘We refuse
to live in an oligarchy’
the Official History of Motor City
records that its wide boulevards
were built for boss mobiles
•    Cadillacs
•    Lincolns
•    Corvettes

Posterity forgets
how Henry Ford pioneered
a people’s automobile
Model Ts and As
affordable, maintainable
that paid line workers
a living wage
never mind what the old man thought
of unions Jews how he used
Paradise Valley to recruit an army of scabs
from such scabrous beginnings the Treaty of Detroit
was born

The name Fordism
doesn’t equate to anti-Semitism
it means the American Dream
(akin to Jefferson’s three-fifths of a Declaration)

But if we consider what dreams are made of
we will know they often are a portrait
of aspiration, i.e., indigestion
messages from unsettled organs
sent to us in sleep courtesy of a pot of gold
produced by undigested kishkes and pig’s feet

What is progress?
It’s whose ass
gets a cushioned seat
in the board room
on the NLRB
at the Senate subcommittee

Should you learn how to raise
4-5 million to campaign for office
you too can become part
of the legislative process proving
change is possible

A Detroit highway got named
after the Tuskegee Airmen
and there’s another one
for Aretha Franklin

Of course,
there’s still the matter
of who holds the purse
strings, perhaps the good Senator
can say we shouldn’t stop
at gaining a living wage
but turn our tongues to capitalism’s

Which we can’t rinse away
no matter how high-priced
the mouthwash and Perrier.

About the Poem

My poem is a response to the recent visit of Senator Sanders (I-VT) to Detroit to support the striking United Auto Workers (UAW). The struggle for a fair deal in the United States is ongoing and endless. I wanted to stop and consider what dreams are on the line and what visions of the future are being litigated behind the picket signs in the Motor City.

About the Author

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in the Great Lakes Region of Canada. His most recent book is Flint River (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). Look for his work in Rattle, Belt,, and Writers Resist today and in the coming months.

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