Mick Vranich, 1946-2010


Fifth Estate # 383, Summer, 2010

Our friend and comrade, Mick Vranich, died March 29 following a terrible construction accident in February. If you ever met Mick, you wouldn’t forget him. You may have seen him perform his poetry, punctuating lines with a stoic stare or watched him play guitar, amazed at his ability to perfect each note, each chord in sync with poetic ease. Perhaps you attended one of his benefits calling for freedom for Leonard Peltier. Maybe you just stopped by his Solstice campfire in the middle of Detroit and were offered a cup of coffee and some real, true talk, or poems like the ones of his on this page.


high seas the threat of sharks

the thrashing machine strapped

to your brain with bailing wire

embarking on one more step

into the water to avoid

stripped of your defenses.

The community has lost a friend whose warmth and generosity transcended the generations. He was an amazing poet, and guitar player, who championed those who were dealt a bad hand by the justice system. Mick made his living as a carpenter and lived in an always to be restored Victorian mansion in the Detroit’s Cass Corridor with his wife and founder of Alley Culture, artist, Sherry Hendrick. Besides his legion of friends and cultural collaborators, he leaves behind four books of poetry and dozens of recorded music and spoken word CDs.


another notch off the slice

of time here on the edge of

the millennium looks like we

got more to do than we set

out to do when we first put

the spirit boat into the water

yanked on the lines the sails

filled with the sweet winds

of dawn but the storm kicked up

so unpredictably darkness crashed

down like a muddy heel

we had to find the other source

of strength to propel the vision

fling it through space like

an alchemical flashlight

winging it over the lakes.

When reading or playing with his band, Mick would often tilt his head slightly and stare out from blue eyes to clear the path ahead, our flashlight into the millennium; gone; there is a new darkness.

by Mick Vranich

surrounded and left alone

more marks that don’t connect

movies with the faces as big

as worlds of flesh in bright

light on the thin screen.


i don’t have anything to say about

it you should talk

to someone else like the wind

working up into a frenzy

in the trees bending and breaking

branches thrown to the ground

like a blanket made of sticks

the ceremonial fire is raging.


no one is watching

maybe a few are seeing it

in the corner of their eyes

the axis is crooked

the hole is getting bigger.


I am nothing

just the dream of becoming

in this cloak of skin

hear what I’m saying

the cloak of skin has a mouth

to talk with the shadows here

that won’t go away

until they see what happens

to it all

what happens to it all.


But i am nothing in this

cloak of skin dragged

through the streets

at the end of a rotting rope

unnoticed because the big screen

is showing how the faces should look

with the smiles riveted in place

put behind the glass

examined carefully thrown

in the heap like the rest

of the bulldozed bodies

still warm still quivering.


i am nothing

just this cloak of skin

with a mouth saying

don’t kill everything so soon.


while you load your rifles

while you slit a throat

while you fill the lung

with poison gas

ravage the earth to the bone

incinerate the bones

to run the conveyor belt

pile up the goods for the ones

who traded in their souls

for a shoe shine.


don’t talk to me

about what you do

your words don’t mean anything

to me you think you are

someone because you have something

a gold watch a gold car

a gold house a gold chain

around your neck

a gold shackle

around your leg

a big smile your words have

no meaning to me

i am nothing

a cloak of skin

with a mouth saying

don’t kill everything

so soon.