See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Art Bar 

American Life in Poetry

All of us have known tyrants, perhaps at the office, on the playground or, as in this poem, within a family. Here Long Island poet Gloria g. Murray portrays an authoritarian mother and her domain. Perhaps you’ve felt the tension in a scene like this.

In My Mother’s


every wall

stood at attention

even the air knew

when to hold its breath

the polished floors

looked up

defying heel marks

the plastic slipcovers

crinkled in discomfort

in my mother’s house

the window shades


against the glare

of the world

the laughter

crawled like roaches

back into the cracks

even the humans sat —

cardboard cut-outs

around the formica

kitchen table

and with silver knives

sliced and swallowed

their words


Reprinted from Poet Lore, Vol 99, No. 1/2 by permission of the author. Copyright 2005 by Gloria g. Murray, whose latest book of poetry is Five A.M. Anxiety. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Send comments to

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit