2013 NE Champ & Nat’l Finalist Russell Heitmann recites “Poem with One Fact” by Donald Hall


Poem with One Fact
BY DONALD HALL “At pet stores in Detroit, you can buy
frozen rats for seventy-five cents apiece, to feed
your pet boa constrictor” back home in Grosse Pointe,
or in Grosse Pointe Park, while the free nation of rats
in Detroit emerges from alleys behind pet shops, from cellars
and junked cars, and gathers to flow at twilight
like a river the color of pavement, and crawls over bedrooms and groceries
and through broken school windows to eat the crayon
from drawings of rats— and no one in Detroit understands
how rats are delicious in Dearborn. If only we could communicate, if only
the boa constrictors of Southfield would slither down I-94,
turn north on the Lodge Expressway, and head for Eighth Street, to eat
out for a change. Instead, tomorrow, a man from Birmingham enters
a pet shop in Detroit to buy a frozen German shepherd
for six dollars and fifty cents to feed his pet cheetah,
guarding the compound at home. Oh, they arrive all day, in their
locked cars, buying schoolyards, bridges, buses,
churches, and Ethnic Festivals; they buy a frozen Texaco station
for eighty-four dollars and fifty cents to feed to an imported London taxi
in Huntington Woods; they buy Tiger Stadium,
frozen, to feed to the Little League in Grosse Ile. They bring everything
home, frozen solid as pig iron, to the six-car garages
of Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods, Farmington, Grosse Pointe
Farms, Troy, and Grosse Arbor— and they ingest
everything, and fall asleep, and lie coiled in the sun, while the city
thaws in the stomach and slides to the small intestine, where enzymes
break down molecules of protein to amino acids, which enter
the cold bloodstream.

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