N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  1  2






Made in Detroit


My first lessons were kisses and a hammer.

I was fed with mother’s milk and rat poison.

I learned to walk on a tightrope over a pit

where snakes’ warnings were my rattles.


The night I was born the sky burned red

over Detroit and sirens sharpened their knives.

The elms made tents of solace over grimy

streets and alley cats purred me to sleep.


I dived into books and their fables

closed over my head and hid me.

Libraries were my cathedrals. Librarians

my priests promising salvation.


I was formed by beating like a black

smith’s sword, and my edge is still

sharp enough to cut both you and me.

I sought love in dark and dusty corners


and sometimes I even found it

however briefly.  Every harsh, every

tender word entered my flesh and lives

there still, bacteria inside my gut.


I suckled Detroit’s steel tits.  When

I escaped to college I carried it with

me, shadow and voice, pressure

that hardened me to coal and flame.