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 Scurrying, no doubt, to do their work on a body whose essence had long withdrawn from it.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.