Wednesday, August 7, 2013


The signs may have bounced as lightly as bodies do…in the back of speeding pickup trucks, carried in a circle by groups that had written on them, or held them upright to herald a fervent march. There was plenty of debating and pontificating saturating the airwaves, regarding race and the like. But all of it was only chatter outside the walls of the city jail; voices that echoed at some distance from the banks of the small institutional island, saying things that were of mild interest to the residents, perhaps.

As it turns out, the people that housed the buildings of the city jail had seen many sons shot in the bloom of youth, and stood stoically over the bodies of more than one brother or cousin. If a galvanization was taking place away from shimmering, looping barbwire fences, no one had sent any word of it. Business still conducted itself without the usual fanfare on the inside. The occupants of the dorms were still being roused just before sunlight to be trucked out to court, walking past lines of unmoved and unaffected faces; following instructions…

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gone From the City Jail

The woman was lying there dead for almost half an hour by the time the technicians arrived (so the witnesses had said). Scurrying, no doubt, to do their work on a body whose essence had long withdrawn from it. They likely filed the other women out of the holding cell like wayward schoolchildren facing the reckoning after a marathon of misbehavior. And the women had misbehaved, by all accounts. They raised a ruckus with pleas that increased in octave and frequency as the hours passed. All the while, the lone sick woman had gone from clenching her arms around her stomach to convulsing on a bench that had been cleared off for her.

But now she was dead. There was nothing left to complain about, at least, for the moment. None of the police officers would have to be inconvenienced after all. There would only be anxious stares and mouths covered by hands as the body was hauled out; pulled from the cell of the city jail, carted down the fluorescent hallway and out the front door to some cold and remote place. The mother of the deceased would hear of her daughter’s demise and collapse somewhere far out of the imagination of that night’s precinct staff. The son of the dead woman would have to do all of his weeping in the periphery.

Alas, this is where poor brown women come to die; in the central booking station of the metropolis. They pass out of existence swiftly now, not slow, like the beginnings of an avalanche with a buildup of environmental forces pummeling at its core – but spontaneous like the accelerating snow, gushing and widening in its downward flow. This is the place where backs are turned upon cries for help, and the banging on metal bars, as if no actual people are crowded there. But no actual people could ever be assigned to such spaces in a culture that values them; piled in by the thousands like livestock or human cargo for the selling; crouching on floors or leaning on walls or pressing their faces against the iron; waiting to be called before a bench or to be laid out to die on one.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

On The Loss of My Dear Friend, Ms. Lady

When I was younger, I often wondered how it was that the elders around me seemed to react to death so calmly. Now, as a man, I realize that they have had to come to a reconciliation with the thing after having seen so much of it. I feel that way, like someone that has come to a forced settlement. It has not even been close to half a century and I am determined that I have sat too much in the audience of farewell ceremonies. I feel that way.

By his own decree, my brother transitioned out of this life not long ago and it wrecked my understanding of everything that is. I am still dragging myself back to solid footing. I thought about it as I sat in the second row of the church this time. Ms. Lady was dead. In pain, she exited. She had battled an autoimmune disease for some twenty-five years and succumbed.

The building was a beautiful structure. Somewhere up on a hill. There were wide glass panes that ran the length of its dimensions and sunlight outside, soft carpeting like a lake of burgundy wine, intricate organ pipes clinging to the walls like brass bones; even the religious symbols were striking. I made the sign of the cross. I recited creeds from memory. I sang the hymns that I had been socialized with, although I no longer subscribed to the religious constructs these things represented.

Ms. Lady would probably think I had become full of myself, transformed into some pretentious intellectual type with blasphemous ideas. We had lost touch over the years somewhat. I am certain that she did not have the time or luxury to think about her faith as indoctrination anyway. And who would I be to tell her different? She was battling her disease, and by all accounts, squeezing the most out of life before it was gone. We would never have the opportunity to even discuss such matters, or for me to explain that I still believed in faith, its power and a God of the universe – this one and all the others.

But what did it matter now? She had transitioned out of this life and so had my beloved brother before her. We were contemporaries. We had all played together as children. And now, in what many consider to be the prime of life, she exited. Just like that, there was more for me to come to terms with. Something inside of me wanted to fall out on the floor and bawl. Instead, I sat in the pews with my kin and sang the words printed in the program. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


There are so many words to speak but no will to do the telling. Something has hunkered down and settled, and pressed its weight like pounds of heavy dough; suffocating. He could claw his way through the pasty walls and pull them into strings, but the desire has gone from him, or the strength. Instead, he watches from a distance through a cloudy window, thinking that he should make some move, assessing whether he truly ever had the ability he had once been so convinced about – wondering, if he even cared now. He floats like a half-fish, looking outward, back and forth in the murky underwater trapped behind a stretch of steel. He hovers, as if he were flooded over by a vat of ink, rendered almost motionless, unable to lift even a finger.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lady in the Perimeter 1

After her seasons have come and gone, it will be her sereneness that he remembers most, that ease with which she greets every single occurrence after more than ninety-five years of having lived. And for each weekly visit, the vision of the doors opening into a stately display of the woman magnificently assembled in her rooms will be panoramic in his memory. She has had to be a survivalist, for certain, probably more as the branches slow their sway in the garden behind her wall than at any other period she has seen. She is often found floating deep in a state of musing, or hovering like a sunflower over the pages of a book, or resting her colorfully wrapped head on the tall polished headboard, in league with the greatest black matriarchs of the two centuries within which she has existed.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Special Hearing

A hospital bed held the man now, and baby blue flannel covered his limbs. His face was drawn into a deeper brown than the rest of him, and shadows made a half-circle over the skin under his eyes. They were the kind of heavy shadows that the sunlight could not stretch far enough through the window bars to reach. He was overcome, with sickness, with emotion, with the struggle to form once easy words into full sentences, and with a mind full of burdens no other soul could access.

This was some woman’s son, well into his fifties now. He seemed distant, isolated from the reality of his situation. The nurses fluttered in and out of the room, unbothered. They whisked past the officers posted at the door, securing any sentiment they may have held, under white latex gloves. A young advocate sat close to the edge of a chair, not far from the bed. He leaned in close to decipher the strained whispers from his detained elder, contemplating a defense. It was like struggling to catch a breeze from the backside a rock. The elder said that he had spent most of his manhood inside of a prison. He had embarked on a career that was the easiest for him to reach, one that entailed the small-time trade of weapons and street-wide narcotics that he personally tested. He was still dealing with the professional hazards and all the other perils that he inherited by circumstance. And he had found himself in this position again. He shook his head.

Somewhere outside of the room, a group of officials was loitering on the glossy hallway floors, becoming inpatient about the length of time this entire affair was taking. Inside, the younger of the two men was feeling quite helpless. The man in front of him reminded him of an uncle. He tried to read on the elder’s face any awareness of his impending demise. If the man knew that the sickness would take him, he did not show it. He only spoke about his family. His sons in Florida, who did not know what had happened to him, and who, he mused, would likely not care to know. A sister he had once been very close to; a younger brother that had just died. The elder would soon join those that had gone before him. The advocate and the nurses exchanged the knowledge in their glances. The advocate sighed as he looked over at the painted white bars that made a wall in front of the hospital windows. He observed the elder’s roommate reading the comics in the other bed, as if he were the only person in the room. An official suddenly appeared at the door and inquired if the two men were finally prepared. The advocate nodded. He wondered in which facility the elder would eventually die. He breathed hard, gathered the papers on his lap, and readied himself.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Passion in the Everglades 1

We come together at the singular space and instant ordered by the one true God, whatever that may be. We thought love a likely enough candidate and worshipped it. Our patterns crisscrossed like intersecting railways, one leading northeast and the other northwest, or southwest and southeast or up or down. We assessed each other that way, in every possible direction, fusing glances in the mirror while the others driveled on in the room. We were touching knees and thighs, fingers and knees, arms and shoulders, shoulders and thighs all for the feel of the thing that cannot be tangibly felt. We could convene here or anywhere in the universe, known and unknown, blocking out the traffic roaring down the boulevard just outside the building. Our two spirits, those spirits, spiraled around each other in an upward tornado, oblivious to everything but themselves – through all the mists they projected; unconstrained!