Detroit by Daylight by Joyce Carol Oates


In the most recent issue of Harper’s Magazine, a story by Joyce Carol Oates has caused much kerfuffle in the literary world. The story, titled “Lovely, Dark, Deep,” tears into the venerable Robert Frost and has drawn flak from many readers upset at the lambasting. In the views of one commenter on, “[the recent ‘fiction with real people’ genre] … is just trying to cash in on the association with the real people who are shanghaied into the writer's pirate ship and made to do an embarrassing little jig without a means to ransom himself.” Whatever the opinion, it’s inarguable that Oates is a prolific writer, with 24 pieces published by the Prairie Schooner alone. “Detroit by Daylight” was featured in the summer of 1968, which, with an average temperature of 76.1°, placed in the top half of Lincoln’s warmest summers.

by Tory Clower

Joyce Carol Oates

Detroit by Daylight

Brook and meadow long glazed over, a city of daylight
Pressed hard upon an ancient glacier has become
A kind of elegant mold: Look where there is room,
After centuries, for the bloom of leaf and kite
Spangled against a dusty spring dully bright—
I do not hate our Vapor turned Kingdom
I say no words against what is the sum
Of forty centuries of cold starclear night.

It is no alarm to see hordes of children in the street.
Houses are stuffed away and anyway it seems noon;
But why these shouts, why thunder of fists and feet
Of shifting tumbling sand? Why the savage fleet
Flash of knife? Why this noontime jazzed to murderous heat?