Only kids keep neighborhood secrets

Only kids keep neighborhood secrets

The neighborhood My feet are soaked from the rain. My socks are no protection from the hole in the sole of my shoe. I should have had it fixed. A bearded figure in a long overcoat is sloped crossing the street ahead of me, walking with an awkward gait that sways him in my direction. The man’s gloved hand reaches out at me, “Buddy you got a quarter?” His coat has the name Franklin sewn onto the breast. “Is that all you want?” I ask him back. “A quarter?” He coughs into his fist. “See,” he says, “if I ask for a quarter people usually gimme a dollar. And if I ask for a dollar they don’t give me nothing at all. So I ask for a quarter and I see what happens.”  “Why not ask for five?” “Shit,” he coughs again. The coat doesn’t fit right. Franklin. “Shit. Nobody carries cash around anyway. All I can do to buy a sandwich. So you got a quarter or what?” I have a quarter. A tip. Running an errand for Mama Yea. I dig into my pocket and drop the silver coin into his hand. I keep walking down the sidewalk, and his voice follows me through the rain. He says, “Hey buddy!” Says, “You got a dollar?” My neighborhood is an old neighborhood. Storefronts sit vacant with For Sale signs in broken windows. Buildings that once housed business and industry alive are hollowed out now, dead and empty. Looming over dusty lots and streets so potholed they look like Swiss cheese. The ghost of Old Man Tate haunts this block of Empire...
The Future

The Future

We spent our summers out on the island, and our winters we spent in the city. In the city we were packed in together like sardines (sardines come from Sardinia, I know this because I went to Italy once long ago with my mom) in an apartment building that smelled like onions. But on the island we stayed with grandpa and it was nothing but clean air and wide open spaces. The sky and the water met somewhere far, far away. The sand on the beach was all we knew. Grandpa stayed inside the hut pretty much all the time, taking pain pills for his back, sleeping until he needed to eat or shit. We were pretty much on our own. The old man in the hut next to Grandpa’s was so wrinkled by the sun he looked like a raisin. He was the same color as a raisin too. He didn’t have many teeth, so it was hard to understand him.  He drank rum and he gave us some, even before we were old enough. “No rules here,” he would say to us. “You can drink anything on the cay.” My brother Ty drank too much one time. He started stumbling down the beach singing to himself. He stripped down to his bare bottom and went swimming. He was whooping and hollering from the water, but then his head disappeared beneath the waves and he didn’t pop up again. I was starting to get worried, but before I could jump into the water to save him the old man was already there, swimming like a fish (but not...
Bringing the country together

Bringing the country together

The United States seems as divided today as it has ever been. Racial, economic, religious, and intellectual divisions have spread us further and further apart. And while it’s in the country’s DNA to be divisive, things are seemingly at a breaking point. Politicians call for the country to come together. Is it even possible? Is it possible for there to be “one” America?  Or maybe a better question is, has there ever been one America? A country founded on dissent, based on bringing different cultures together. The term “melting pot” has been used over and over. When imagining the “great” America that Donald Trump seeks to return to, something painted by Norman Rockwell comes to mind. That is one part of the U.S., and it is the one that dominated politics and society for much of recent memory. This is where the problems arise. The idealistic/idyllic white families sitting around a dinner table and talking swap meets with a dog dreaming at their feet and a white picket fence around the front yard only worked for one portion of the country. That is no longer the predominant culture (whether symbolically or otherwise).  The painting pictured above, aptly titled Freedom From Want, depicts the only piece of the country that could actually afford freedom from want. This is the demographic that had it all/everything, and they feel as though it is slipping away. As in the video posted by the Atlantic, the U.S. is no longer a white, Christian nation. But the notion that it is only the subjects of those paintings struggling with the social progress and equality embraced by modern...