Liner Notes From Detroit

by Michele Finn Johnson

Soul Fire Records
SF 19890

2-Sided Disc

CD Audio Side:

1. You Caught Me Goin’

Spring Break, Ft. Lauderdale. On my way somewhere else. You stop and throttle me in a new direction. Forward? Reverse? TBD.

2. It’s the Touch

Or the touch before the actual touching. The eye-sizzle. Your desire transfixed onmy collarbone. Your seeming like a man, yet still a sophomore. I am a senior, but that hardly seems the case in our carnal matters.

3. Too Far Distance

Unreliable dorm hallway phones. “Todd!” They yell up the hall for you. When you call me, it is with laundry quarters—plunk plunk—you squat in the hallway in a dingy tee shirt. Sacrifice. 600 miles. Too far.

4. Selling Detroit

It is Chamber-of-Commerce you that shows off Detroit to me. Tigers game from left field; the UFO-ish fountain at Hart Plaza; Joe Louis’ massive bronze fist; the Renaissance Center (“Say Ren Cen,” you tell me, “or you sound totally tourist!”) at night, lit up like an enormous pipe organ. Greektown smells like Ouzo and lemon. Opa! Cheese set ablaze, your mouth open in anticipation.

5. Two Many Years

Sixteen plane flights; an impressive 457 combined letters and cards; twice-a-week phone calls (minimum). Two years; too many to wait. Her name, you say, is Kimberly.

6. Kimberly

Bitch. Bitch. Bitch.

7. Kimberly Gone

It should be ME gone. My feet would not uproot themselves. The victory is weak.

8. Detroit Leaning

Graduation. Kimberly gone. Decisions to be made. Georgia v. Michigan. You will win. You win.

9. Shaming Mr. Ford

My Subaru is a disgrace. UAW town. Tires could be slashed. We drive your Escort hatchback everywhere, even though its tires are shiny slick. It is the danger that draws you to things. We drive south on Inkster into gangland and your hands pulse electric, illuminating the dash.

10. Things I Should Have Noticed

The way you rock back and forth when you are upset; your hatred of meat; your distrust of silence; your rocket-thrust anger; how you won’t let me touch or even look at your feet; your obsession with an early death.

11. Driving Way Too Wrong

The Escort hatchback is under my control, you too fullof Michelob and Jagermeister shots, yet you still commandeer her from the passenger seat. “Slow down. Change lanes. Use a signal for fuck’s sake.”Two more miles until I can breathe again. Red light. Passenger door opens. “I’m walking,” you say. “Get backin here,” I say—and then I scream, “Todd, get back in here!” And there you go, stumbling into the grooves of the asphalt swale meant for rainwater diversion, swept into night.

12. Understand

You come back broken. Tales of Dad hitting Mom. Tales of you smearing feces on the wall behind your crib. Tales of your sister being watched in the shower by your stepfather. You Nostradamus your own death—age 25, in November, by your own hands.

13. Things I Now See

I could not save you. You left the note, but could not bringyourself to end yourself. My feet can uproot themselves when they have to. We all need to save ourselves. When the sun hits the rounded face of the Ren Cen, the windows glow bronze, a color brighter than gold, stronger than Joe Louis’ fist.

DVD Side:

Filmed Acoustic Performances of:

It’s the Touch**
Selling Detroit
Things I Now See
Extensive Personal Introductions by the Artist

** This song contains some adult imagery

Credits Produced by me, as I am ultimately responsible for myself.

Engineered by you, always you. Deftly, silently. Until you no longer were allowed to engineer.

Mixed by both of us (except for “Things I Now See”)

Recorded at Tempermill, Detroit, MI

Mastered by no one.

Photography by your Aunt Dot, who grabbed the camera and said “My! You two will make such beautiful babies!”

All Songs Written by Michele Finn Johnson

© 2015 Michele Finn Johnson (not a member of ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.

Thanks to Todd, for lessons learned.

Michele Finn Johnson’s narrative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol and the anthology Fractures, and won an AWP Introduction to Journals Project award. Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Necessary Fiction, The Conium Review and TheNewerYork Press. Michele studies creative writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado, and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in water resources and environmental engineering, both from Villanova University.