Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poetic Travelers Presents

Friday, November 19, 2010: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Location Lawrence Street Gallery
22620 Woodward Ave, Ste A
Ferndale, MI

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010


MCBP’s first chapbook is rolling off the assembly line.

Title: Adopted Behaviors
Author: James R. Tomlinson
Content: 3 flash memoirs, 5 short stories, and 5 flashes related in some way to the human condition and/or prison experience.
Length: 52 pages
Size: 4 ¼" by 5 ½"

Initial Print Run: 75
Projected Release Date: July 2010
Price (including shipping in the U.S.): $4.00 *

*All funds will go toward MCBP’s inaugural issue. No set-up costs incurred by MCBP. No outsourcing; 100% Made in Michigan.

More details coming.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Does “being a factory rat” count for having a “real ass” job? If so, how come a majority of American autoworkers are viewed as overpaid, unskilled laborers?

In Leon Chamberlain’s self-published memoir, “Factory Rat,” he states: “There used to be millions of us. Nowadays we joke that we are dinosaurs, a dying breed.” He made this observation more than a decade ago, and from what’s written, he, along with many of his coworkers, knew the manufacturing landscape would someday change, that they wouldn’t be able to continue working on the assembly line earning a decent wage, thinking themselves valuable assets to their prospective employers.

Although his first auto job started at Wayne “Assy” in the mid-60’s, he starts with a 1970's quote from Henry Ford II:

“The average worker wants a job in which he does not have to put in much physical effort. Above all, he wants a job in which he does not have to think.”

Chamberlain’s first line of work: Installing right-hand seat belts with a powerful air gun that often stripped the chrome plated bolts. He emphasizes how everything’s related to speed, including sprinting to the parking lot with his fellow coworkers so they could make it to the Wayne Party Store for whiskey and beer during lunch break. Also, he describes how those air hoses would sometimes get caught on a passing trolley or a car mirror, only to stretch and snap, sometimes cold-cocking a worker. He quotes Studs Terkel from “Working”:

“They’ll (management) give better care to that machine than they will to you. If it breaks down, there’s somebody out there to fix it right away. If I break down, I’m just pushed over to the side ‘till another man takes my place.”

His memoir spans a 33-year career in the auto industry. Unfortunately, it does not portray the autoworker in a favorable light; it doesn’t show them as valuable entities. You’ve got a pipe fitter that spends his working hours making and selling coffee for profit, an electrician laying on a wooden bench in his crib, night after night, snoring (he promotes to supervisor), and other colorful characters trying to “stick it to the man.” “Factory Rat” is an entertaining read which gives insight into the decline in the United States’ automobile manufacturing from an insider’s perspective. --jr

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sprung ahead, lost an hour, yet I’ve gained anonymity. Everyone needs a “time-out” now and then. I could list half a dozen reasons, six little things, but what would be the point?

There’s no sense in looking back.

Spring forward … slowly … using tiny baby steps.

When Mr. Talibi, a man of middle eastern origin who worked in his family’s Detroit party store, tip-toes into my classroom some twenty-minutes late and makes accidental eye-contact with yours truly, he speaks in a soft, broken-English sort of way. He says, “I thought we didn’t have school today,” and sensing my displeasure, “when is spring break?” and after a moment of awkward silence, rephrases his question, “we get spring break, don’t we?”

The class waits for my response.

“Oh sure, we get spring break,” I say. “As soon as the maintenance workers dump two truck-loads of sand in the yard …”


“… and the food service workers fire-up the grills and tap the kegs …”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

I raise my voice, “… and the corrections officers escort in bikini clad women for the volleyball tournament.”

He starts smiling. “We could get sponsors.”

“Hell no!” I answer. “We don’t get spring break. This is prison!”


You can read my prose in the spring issue of Six Bricks Press. --JR

Friday, March 5, 2010


Last summer I featured one of my rare poems on my “shelved-for-now” blog, JR’s Thumbprints. Since writing that poem I have yet to witness a full-scale economic recovery, except maybe on a personal level; I am happy to announce that my brother, who had devoted twenty-three years as a mechanical engineer for one of the “Big Three” before being “let go,” found steady employment in the defense industry. He told me that others returned to their old jobs as “contractual employees.” One of his engineering friends found temporary employment at Gibbs Technologies in Auburn Hills, the manufacturer of amphibious vehicles. I’m wondering how long it’ll take before we see Tata automotive ( and Jobs in Michigan) competing in North America? Can they really sell a car for 3 - 8 grand? With that said, I'd like to share my poem again:

There’s decay in the Motor City, it’s in the roots of my teeth,
stuck like taffy, I gnaw and pull at the yellow tape. There’s
fencing too, down the south side of a dead-end street—a factory
caught in my braces; Everywhere: foreclosed homes and empty
lots, worse than unfilled cavities. I gum Better Mades and dream
of a stimulus package in a brown paper bag placed on the console
of my Chevy. Whiskey and Vernors, for medicinal purposes,
me traveling, no tires, just cement block and fragmite. Pain too,
in my jaw, raw raw pain, a telling sign that I’m alive. I step into a
blacktop oven and smile my jagged smile and scale the chain
link fence and yell to my fellow Detroiters: “We must organize!”

In other news, Matt, the editor of Staccato Fiction, accepted my flash story “Still Life in Detroit.” Having once lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he made the following statement during our email correspondence: “it’s tough about what’s happening there, especially places like Detroit or Flint.” The story will appear on Monday, March 8th. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave comments at their site:
Staccato .


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Bloodsport" & "Catch and Release"

After reading about Michigan author and funeral director Thomas Lynch’s current book “Apparition & Late Fictions” in last Sunday’s Detroit Free Press, I couldn’t help but recall the strong imagery from two stories in this collection. The first story “Bloodsport,” I had read in the 2002 Pushcart Prize (Best of the Small Presses). The premise was not lost on me: The main character, Martin, informed of the murder of a young woman at the hands of her husband, had to retrieve the body and start the embalming process just as he had done for her father five years earlier. Lynch writes:

Martin could not get his mind off how mannish the violence was, how hunter-gatherly, how very do-it-yourself, for the son-of-a-bitch to stand on the front deck of their double-wide out in the woods while she loaded the last of her belongings in the car—her boom box and a last armful of hanging things—how he must have carefully leveled the rifle, his eyes narrowing to sight her in. He put the first bullet through her thigh. An easy shot from fifteen yards.

The other story, “Catch and Release,” first appeared in Witness, a literary journal published by Oakland Community College and edited by Peter Stine. (In fact, both stories were first published there.) In this story, the main character, a fly-fishing guide, takes his father’s ashes down a familiar river in a symbolic gesture of “letting go.” Again, Lynch writes:

Danny remembered his father taking him fishing, that first time in the river, when he was a boy, how the water tightened around his body, the thick rubber of the Red Ball waders constricting in the current. It was late March. It was cold and clear and he wondered how his father ever found this place, hours from home, driving in the dark to get to the river at first light.

It’s easy visualizing Danny tossing his father’s ashes to the wind; it’s what he does afterward with the last bit of his father that may shock you. As much as I’d like to tell you the ending, I encourage you to discover that on your own. Whether poetry, essays, or short stories, Lynch’s writing is masterfully done. This latest collection consists of four short stories and a novella. For more information go to: .


Friday, January 1, 2010

Summer in the Winter City

Monthly Detroit has been gone for a while. How about Orbit? What are the best magazines and papers of today's Detroit? Or is everything online now?
Happy New Year, peeps, watch out for flying debris!