The Definition of Hope

The Definition of Hope

The day breaks sweaty like the last, like every day in summer. In the city where there are no trees, no shade – only blocks of cement baking like dessert in the church basement after service. Luther at the edge of the alley offers to sell you a gun but no bullets. The news is on, floating from open windows across the neighborhood, all channels report the same in a monotone chorus of strife – the riots, the riots, the riots, and when will order be restored? Mama Yea fans herself with her church bulletin on her front porch, rocking back and forth, and tells us that great change is coming as we pass by on our bikes – but not before great violence. There’s a mural of a rising sun on the south-facing wall of the corner store, a sun red and orange over a garden and the city skyline against it. It was painted twelve years ago after Mike Yellow was shot by police, the same day Ronny died after he jumped from a bridge downtown – he would have shot himself, Mama Yea says, her voice just above a whisper. But there weren’t any bullets in the gun Luther sold him. It’s the anniversary today. As Long As I Breathe, I Hope The pastor of the church at the end of the block, Pastor Johns, has breath that smells like sour milk, and he leans in close when he’s talking to you. I am in love with Casey who lives three buildings down from mine and she knows it. But she has to stay inside most...
Not For Sale

Not For Sale

Gogo was raised by her uncle, whose last name was Sale, after her mother died and her father left for Africa. Her father never returned from Africa, and whether he was alive or dead she never cared to find out. Her uncle was a large man. He had a strong jaw and head shaped like an anvil – his words had the same sort of weight. Though he didn’t say much, and his house was large enough that they were able to coexist while rarely crossing paths. Gogo told me she could dissolve into a glass of water when he yelled for peace and quiet. The house was on the edge of the Okopai River. When I visited we stayed in her room. If we were hungry we left her house and went to the small diner nearby. If her uncle was in a bad mood we stayed at my place, hiding beneath the covers of my bed so that my parents wouldn’t know she was there. We were safe beneath the blankets, lying close together and whispering about where we would go tomorrow, next month, next year, forever. We read books to each other: Great Russian literature and a few of the American classics, like An American Tragedy when we found it on sale. We read Waiting for Godot, which was one of her favorites, and promised we would see it performed live someday after we saved enough money. We read the poetry of Nikki Giovanni and wondered how so much could be said with so few words. My parents never caught us. Gogo always slipped through the...
Now India (7 Minutes to Sunrise)

Now India (7 Minutes to Sunrise)

The first sounds of the morning are of tuk-tuk and taxi engines as they come to life, their honking horns alongside the footsteps of the city’s informal working class taking to the streets. And, even earlier than that, the song and chant of Hindu morning prayer, and the feral dogs that slink to the shadows to sleep, no longer dominant as the sun begins its climb from behind Agra, India’s low hills.

The Persistent Appeal of Fascism

The Persistent Appeal of Fascism

If we aren’t careful, true Fascism will grow and take hold in this country – not Nazi thugs on the streets in their brown shirts perhaps, but our own, Americanized version of it, bloated and overwrought, with stars and eagles instead of a swastika bound by a thick circle that would keep anyone who isn’t anglicized, God-fearing, white and heterosexual at the bottom of an ever-deepening barrel.

Bury Me in St. Paul

Bury Me in St. Paul

It is a warm and humid night in summer. The sound of dogs barking on the street. The sound of crickets from the brush and cicadas in trees. Fireflies flash like tiny cameras through the grass along rows of dark cars parked along the curb.