Dennis Teichman

miles davis gets a tour of the plant

between the parts crib and the punch press
a trumpet solo echoes off my memory,
loops around that 1:30 a.m. haze called shop lights,
and lands as glowing St. Elmo’s Fire on every spare part
that looks like a musical instrument, short burst of some
“I Fall In Love Too Easily” styled Miles
taking the room away from its purpose for a while,
let me drift away, enjoying the pleasures such moments
bring as respite from the usual overload of cussed out machinery
and its violent return language, a thought beyond adventurous
while turning threads into steel plate, let the music turn through me,
figure out a couple bars something bluesy in the way I’ll work
as night wears me thin—
turn pipe, snap fingers, turn pipe, snap fingers,
slide to the right, unbolt that thang,
she-do-be-do you see,
probably just tell the guys over by the oil drums
that I’m a horn sectioned out,
go on without me and all that jazz

in the machine shop there is a length of 3/8ths copper pipe
that’s bent and flattened, and if blown through,
or more correctly, hummed through
I can approximate the trumpet sound,
and depending on the number of cigarettes smoked,
complete a half-remembered tune
with volume, notes, phrasing,
and despite the shoprats thinking I might be a bit mental,
that pipe hasn’t been tossed in the scrap bin yet,
so I pick it up on my breaks, try to achieve
personal bests like when I took a stab
at “So What”… my notes deep down smoky,
riff off the hushed crowd sitting at candlelit tables,
feel the mood, notice her slender fingers
tapping with the rhythm leaning over the candle
to light a Gauloise, then one for me, her eyes on me
as she slowly rises… and jolted back to the other dream
called my life after about four bars
when some leatherlung by the bandsaw shouts out,
“muthafucka, you’re flat”

not being a musician but listening to musicians
I recognize A minor as the natural pitch
to this steam line, but not hearing an A minor
is still listening for sounds I’ll gladly tap my foot to,
here’s something tin that looks contained
with enough music waiting to join the ensemble
of this variety show called Friday night,
maybe find a C-sharp coming through the darkness,
low or loud, while tapping notes with a wrench
to some ballad’s stanza playing on the radio
by the coffeepot, a pair of volumes,
listening, more like scanning for planet vibrations,
music of the spheres in an E major
while wondering if I really know a note’s definition,
could be a personal history spiraled into a moment,
or like walking into a room, past an overheard
conversation and spending hours thinking
about what was said, time capsule music,
tough decision, but as a reference
somebody tossed a greasy bearing
onto the newspaper on the workbench,
just missing the photo in the corner blurb,
Miles holding his trumpet, tough stare, note this

it’s about time to notice the tempo in engines, bolts,
make continuous sounds by octaves,
some talk with machine room hums,
orchestral phases I assume into rhythmic story,
like hearing Miles and Hank working “Bye Bye Blackbird,”
making that section of time into literature,
its tempo airy, responsible to its topic
just as these pipes around me are flanged
to day’s commerce, their music of appliance,
a backbeat crescendo, tones ready to chant with,
tools fit to stretch the imagination,
no limit to what we use, what we make useful,
machinery, music, me, we are for the time, being


... the ‘little people’ will tell their story. History’s grains of sand.
–Svetlana Alexievich

stress seen on faces she writes like pictures,
stress it’s the presentation of body’s
call of mnemonic refrain,
portray history into presentable form,
                       what’s said with what’s seen,  
inside one another         her embedded
words a statement fixed
against any posturing restatement,

                                for public thought,
if word as person, word then a conversation
with people brought back
that would have remained lost ones,
                                needed clarity
for those not presently regarded
                               any population,
taken from invisible to noted,
images from the silence between letters,
                   she says, “You use force, I use words.”
                   isn’t it just so, then
                   isn't justice so
                   to speak it, considered remedial

angry eye

if it covers us,
then a world of hurt
comes genie-like out of a doorway,
voice debut of another scream ache
across time, as though through time
                    we didn’t stop to listen
                    but stayed the same mirror
image of ourselves amid the torrential
poison words falling from one to another

if it covers us,
then it’s when we are standing
still, maybe alone, sometimes together,
in that quietude while thinking
of just being ourselves
                   could be drawn into what affront,
                   what attack, attempts to put us
against what we are, that forced listening, mistaken feelings
of what we aren’t coming from one to another

if it covers us
then a day, a month, a year
isn’t the healing it’s claimed to be,
how many ways to a continuous rage,
how many incensed actions
                     increase desensitizing thoughts
                     at the center of ending anger’s language
so striking at odds to calm voices
that should be heard and passed from one to another

Dennis Teichman, a Detroit-based writer, is founder and publisher (with Deborah King and Paul Schwarz) of Past Tents Press, a project dedicated to Detroit writing. The author of two books of poetry, Edge to Edge and V-8, he is a co-facilitator in the Writer’s Block writing workshop at Macomb Correctional Facility.

Read next: Issue no. four fiction section

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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