Month: June 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Dead Deer

by Lauren Rose

burnt bush skeletons like a haze of
unbrushed hair

ohoo
a dead deer, she says
as we drive past it

and never think of it again


Lauren Rose was born on Misawa Air Force Base in Japan in 1999. She is a senior at Sierra Nevada University studying biology, creative writing, and outdoor adventure leadership. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. Her previous work can be found in issue six of Burnt Pine Magazine and will soon be available in the fall 2020 issue of Peregrine, the 2020 issue of Ricochet Review Poetry Journal, and the Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories Volume 4, Book 2. She has been recognized by seven Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Follow her on Facebook at @lauren.rose.102 and Instagram at @rose_lauren.e.

Related Post: “Pray for us Sinners” by Lauren Rose

Pray for us Sinners

by Lauren Rose

hail mary full of grace,

I sit in a pew
head bowed
dress torn
drinking her whispers

the lord is with thee.

I sit in a pew
and the bell in the steeple peals once
a round, yawning call
murmuring in my ears
prickling my skin

blessed are thou among women

I sit in a pew and lift my head
she stands at the end of the aisle
cloaked
face concealed by shadow
I rise

blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

I sweep the last lick of liquor from my lips
step silently
bare feet on red carpet
towards her shrouded figure

holy Mary Mother of God,

the bell in the steeple peals
warning
a round, yawning cry
murmuring in her ears
prickling her skin
she glides forward

pray for us sinners

sin
shivers through my scalp
spine
belly

now and at the hour of our death

I grasp her hood
and remove it

amen.


Lauren Rose was born on Misawa Air Force Base in Japan in 1999. She is a senior at Sierra Nevada University studying biology, creative writing, and outdoor adventure leadership. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. Her previous work can be found in issue six of Burnt Pine Magazine and will soon be available in the fall 2020 issue of Peregrine, the 2020 issue of Ricochet Review Poetry Journal, and the Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories Volume 4, Book 2. She has been recognized by seven Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Follow her on Facebook at @lauren.rose.102 and Instagram at @rose_lauren.e.

Related Post: “Dead Deer” by Lauren Rose

This Time in History

A plague
A call for survival
Mortality rates
Numbers
Too large to name
The lost souls of
The unclaimed
Wisdom stripped
Forget
Remember
Normal new normal
Listless numb-M

“1984” by Milicent Fambrough (2020), digital artwork.
Image is copyright protected.


Milicent Fambrough is an author from San Antonio, Texas. Milicent has been writing since her childhood. Creativity has always been encouraged in her family. After a long time in the working world, she returned to technical college for an education in the field of graphic design. There, Milicent made her decision to devote herself to artwork and writing poetry, among other things. Now, like most days, we find Milicent again at work creating art and writing verse.

I Fought the Law

by Bruce Craven

I didn’t strike the law, didn’t brawl, but fall, 1980, I did rebel: “No Nukes!” The right kind of coup d’état!
Summer ‘81, I’d break rocks in the hot sun, dig ditches; choose pay-days as my right kind of coup d’état.

After that freshman year, my political rage would fade. I played Ultimate, smoked weed, eyed love,
but at Lawrence-Livermore Labs in 1980, I grabbed at a chance to fight in the right kind of coup d’état.

Reagan was President! I worked at the Resource Center for Non-Violence & studied Peace. Our Leader:
No non-violence training, no arrest allowed!” No chance to fight today in this right kind of coup d’état?

“What, I need a class to get arrested?!” Hearts & minds locked, we stood. Cops batons hit twined hands.
The certified, relaxed to the cement, trained to give peace to authority: MLK’s right kind of coup d’état.

No stroke of the state, no violent regime change, just voices & the snap of batons to sever the blockade.
At the science/weapons lab, neither side hurled invectives; process ruled this right kind of coup d’état.

The promise of a peaceful resistance held, but my Mahatma Gandhi moment passed. The putsch
was theater with rules. I understood, wasn’t certified to go limp that day for a right kind of coup d’état.

“But I can do it!” I’ve gone to jail; not robbing with a six-gun, but caught with hash in a VW Rabbit,
Aerosmith too loud for a suburban, summer night: felony. Oh, give me this right kind of coup d’état!

Give me the chance to get arrested for a good, not a stupid reason. “Take the formal training.”
Our leader wanted discipline. “Non-violence is not a game. Do it right for this right kind of coup d’état.”

The Clash belted out: “Guess my race is run…she’s the best girl that I ever had!” on vinyl, cheap speakers
in my dorm that day. I bailed on peace, chose freedom, punk & poetry for my right kind of coup d’état.

I had to lose the skin I was imprisoned in. So, I hosed vomit off Boardwalk coaster rides, dishwashed,
worked Schezwan, drove liquor to house-bound geriatrics. My white riot, my right kind of coup d’état,

meant stay free, ignore their clampdown – read, study, party. Craven cranked The Clash’s Sandinista!
Jump-cut: 1-31-20. Bruce, 59, glares at his screen: POTUS, grins, celebrates his right kind of coup d’état.


Bruce Craven is a member of the Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty in New York City. In addition to directing and teaching in a variety of executive programs, he teaches graduate business students his popular elective Leadership Through Fiction.  His book Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, was published in March 2019 by St. Martin’s Press of Macmillan Publishing.  The book is currently being translated into Russian, Serbian, and Turkish. He wrote the novel Fast Sofa (1993) which was published in Japanese and German. He also co-wrote the script for the film adaptation, starring Jennifer Tilly, Jake Busey, and Crispin Glover. His collection of poetry, Buena Suerte in Red Glitter, was published in 2019 by Red Dirt Press in Oklahoma. He lives with his wife and two sons in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Related Posts: “Hand-Made” and “Paul English – Leadership Lesson #1” by Bruce Craven

Paul English – Leadership Lesson #1

by Bruce Craven

Willie Nelson’s band on the road in the early
days, with Bush, Day, Nelson & English, rode
in a ’47 Flxible Flyer bus. Surly
Paul had tooled saddles, racketeered, showed

he would learn drums, but still pimping — a Waco bad-ass.
The drum secret? “Don’t count”, Willie said, “just feel it.”
Paul kept drumming, carried a blade, guns. Willie sassed
idiots, stole a few wives, popped speed, hit

back if he had no choice, but, Paul said, was “given
to a lot of tolerance.” Needed protection.
“The club business was rough,” Willie claimed, “…you went in…
with a you-motherfucker-you-better-pay-me…” tension.

Music venues tried to cheat Willie & the Record Men.
But an a-hole owner’s Caddy dangling on a fork-lift? Paul’s message sent.


Bruce Craven is a member of the Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty in New York City. In addition to directing and teaching in a variety of executive programs, he teaches graduate business students his popular elective Leadership Through Fiction.  His book Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, was published in March 2019 by St. Martin’s Press of Macmillan Publishing.  The book is currently being translated into Russian, Serbian, and Turkish. He wrote the novel Fast Sofa (1993) which was published in Japanese and German. He also co-wrote the script for the film adaptation, starring Jennifer Tilly, Jake Busey, and Crispin Glover. His collection of poetry, Buena Suerte in Red Glitter, was published in 2019 by Red Dirt Press in Oklahoma. He lives with his wife and two sons in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Related Posts: “Hand-Made” and “I Fought the Law” by Bruce Craven

Hand-Made

by Bruce Craven

“Pack up all your dishes,
make note of all good wishes…”

sang the Texan, Guy Clark, talking
about leaving Los Angeles for a more simple

life. “Don’t cry now,” he reminded Susanna, love
is a gift, perfect, hand-made. The tune? L.A. Freeway.

Clark got a song-writing contract, left for Nashville.
His L.A. landlord had chopped down a grapefruit tree with deep roots.

Years later Guy said on stage, L.A. is a weird place;
didn’t mean Austin weird, just empty of character,

or the right kind of character. His L.A. landlord
was the kind of guy that made his own bullets

in his garage. The kind of guy to kill that tree.
The kind of guy, Guy’d have to know, not limited to L.A.

Guy and Susanna drove their VW truck east
She was a painter. They separated later for six years,

returned to each other. She passed before him,
after their life of art and music. His obit called him

The King of Texas Troubadours. His tune
suggests L.A. can’t offer what really matters

to him, to her. I get it, but L.A. was my freeway
back home. Weird, often soul-less, apocalyptic

with beauty, wealth, poverty sadness, hope, despair. Barren & crowded?
Sure. No shit. I lived in NYC for 12 years, and NYC felt sane,

compared to Los Angeles. Still, I’m an Angeleno.
I tried, but couldn’t leave L.A. in a cloud of dust,

couldn’t motor the 390 engine past the Coachella windmills
in my vintage Mercury Monterey sedan; couldn’t lift

on silver wings above the Santa Monica Pier & Pacific Ocean,
couldn’t bail on L.A. I tried and always returned. Hungry,

proud. My folks, young adults, abandoned Missouri.
Married in a DTLA civil ceremony, lived in Burbank.

It all started in a one-room apartment. Guy,
they made it work and we had an orange tree.

You and Susanna also chose right. Her artwork
graced albums like Nelson’s Stardust. She wrote

Heavenly Houseboat Blues” with Townes van Zandt.
You helped the young Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, others

sing for the sake of the song. You wrote & played
My Favorite Picture of You” about Susanna:

“the one where you stare straight at the lens
just a Polaroid shot someone took on the spot.”

She was angry. You were in love. How often
we pursue a look in the eyes of another person,

that potential twanging “Adios, to all this concrete…
Let’s run together and chase the promise, that fire & confetti

that cascades down between our smiling eyes.
Let’s choose the right road, our adventure, even leaving

Skinny Denis singing downstairs… “Sweet and low,
like the gift you’re bringing.” My landlord was cool, Guy,

let the rent slide for a year, while I wrote
(scripts/novel/poems). No boring son-of-a-bitch,

he was generous. I’m sure you and Susanna
would understand. You helped artists find their path.

How’d I not get killed or caught, left with nothing
but a moldy box of vanilla wafers? If I could’ve

put the pink card in the mailbox, and left the key|
in the front-door lock, I might’ve, but go where?

You sang in 1975 to pack up all the dishes,
make note of all good wishes. Throw out them

L.A. papers ‘cause you were gonna get dirt-road
back-streets. You were heading to the country,

but the City of Angels has always been country, too.
I took the I-10 with Sherelle, that first day

she visited me from her home province, Saskatchewan.
We drove the ’63 Merc straight on the freeway

to show her the blue Pacific, turned around at the view
when I remembered guests were arriving for sushi

that had to be prepped, cooked. That I couldn’t afford
didn’t know how to prepare, but my roommate was a writer,

another poor writer, with dead writer dreams and gout.
Man, could he cook! It’d be a great party with pricy sake.

On my way to the Burbank Airport to pick up Sherelle
and her sister, Pam, I thought, “This never works.”

How many trips had I made on L.A. freeways to L.A. airports
for the promise of the fire and confetti? My history was flat failure.

My box of photos showed the women. What could have been,
what wasn’t. Guy and Susanna did it right when they left

in that cloud of dust. “Play it for me one more time now,”
Guy encouraged Skinny Dennis downstairs. Reminding himself,

Susanna, Skinny Dennis to give it all we can now. He believed.
I had believed too long. Driving to the Bob Hope Airport

at the San Fernando freeway junction, I didn’t, just drove.
But that day was different, Sherelle. Pam took our photo

beside the Mercury, arms around each other, your hand
on your hip, arm akimbo. Los Angeles wraps us in freeways, honey.

Play it for me one more time. I can’t believe it.
Guy was right. Love is a gift, perfect, hand-made.


Bruce Craven is a member of the Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty in New York City. In addition to directing and teaching in a variety of executive programs, he teaches graduate business students his popular elective Leadership Through Fiction.  His book Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, was published in March 2019 by St. Martin’s Press of Macmillan Publishing.  The book is currently being translated into Russian, Serbian, and Turkish. He wrote the novel Fast Sofa (1993) which was published in Japanese and German. He also co-wrote the script for the film adaptation, starring Jennifer Tilly, Jake Busey, and Crispin Glover. His collection of poetry, Buena Suerte in Red Glitter, was published in 2019 by Red Dirt Press in Oklahoma. He lives with his wife and two sons in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Related Posts: “Paul English – Leadership Lesson #1” and “I Fought the Law” by Bruce Craven

A Blue Hydrangea

by Eric Braman

A 10-Minute Play

Cast of Characters

BLUE            A Blue Hydrangea
PINK             A Pink Hydrangea
CAROLE      The Great Gardener (optional voiceover)
GEORGE     The Great Gardener’s Husband (optional voiceover)

Scene
A backyard garden.

Time
Late spring/early summer.

Lights up on a garden. A hydrangea bush with multiple heads of blossoms is seen center stage, all of them pink except one, which is blue. The blossoms are asleep. The sun rises at start of play waking the blossoms from their slumber.

PINK
Good morning world.

BLUE
Good morning sun.

PINK
Good morning dirt.

BLUE
Good morning butterfly.

PINK
Good morning little ants.

BLUE
Good morning Lilies and Roses and Jasmine.

PINK
Good morning Cherry Tree, good morning Kale!

BLUE
Good morning family.

PINK
(turning toward BLUE) Good morning – OH MY GROVE!

BLUE
What is it?

PINK
What happened to you?!

BLUE
What? Is my stamen showing?

PINK
No, it’s – I can’t believe it.

BLUE
What is it?! Am I infected? Is it aphids?! Oh god, get them off! Get them off!

PINK
Stop fussing. Stop flinching.

BLUE
Out with it! You look like you’ve seen a slug!

PINK
No, it’s not a pest. It’s a … Well, you’re … Blue.

BLUE
What?!

PINK
As blue as that morning sky, dear. You’re blue through and through. Every petal. I’ve never seen anything like it. I can hardly believe it’s you. Look there, in the bird bath.

(BLUE leans over and looks at reflection in water surface.)

BLUE
Wow. I’m …

PINK
Did you eat something?

BLUE
Nothing out of the ordinary. Just water from the ground and you know …carbon from the air. Same water and air as you, I think.

PINK
Well you must have had paint from the house dripped on you.

BLUE
No. Not that I recall.

PINK
Good Gardener in Heaven! You must have done something. I’ve never heard of a Hydrangea just turning blue out of the blue.

BLUE
I mean, there are blue Hydrangeas, right?

PINK
Sure, I’ve heard of blue Hydrangeas. But we are pink Hydrangeas. The Good Carole planted us as such, and no Hydrangea I’ve ever seen in this back yard has ever been blue.

BLUE
Are you sure I wasn’t always blue and we just never looked close enough?

PINK
You’re being absurd.

BLUE
Well, I don’t know.

PINK
You look ridiculous.

BLUE
I think I look … nice.

PINK
Nice?!

BLUE
Handsome, even.

PINK
Handsome?! A Hydrangea?! Handsome?!

BLUE
Yeah?

PINK
(laughing) I’ve never in all my days heard of a Hydrangea being … handsome! Beautiful? Of course. Pretty? Always. Stunning? I mean, I’ve heard it said once or twice. But handsome! Hah! I’ve never.

BLUE
You don’t have to be so cruel.

PINK
I’m sorry, dear. It’s just so unnatural.

(An uncomfortable silence.)

BLUE
I think I wished for this.

PINK
WISHED FOR THIS?! To be blue?! What on earth would make you wish to be blue?

BLUE
I don’t know. I guess I’ve always wanted to be blue. Like, since I was a tiny bud. There was something in me that never felt pink, you know?

PINK
That’s against the laws of nature. Carole planted us to match the yellow Irises and red Poppies. We are the splash of pink in this garden. You know how she likes warm colors.

BLUE
I know. I don’t wish to upset Carole, bless Her Greatness, but I can’t help but feel this is meant to be. I mean, I’ve had dreams—so many dreams—for years about looking up into the sky and seeing my reflection in its beautiful hue. I’ve had visions while we slumber in the cold of winter. Visions of waking up absolutely turquoise and looking down at the Thyme creeping below us to hear songs of “oohs” and “aahs” as each little white bud tells me how much they love the new view.

Maybe I manifested this!

PINK
Flowers don’t manifest. We blossom, wilt, hibernate, repeat. We follow nature’s cycle. We only live because Her Greatness, Carole, planted us here. To manifest would be a malicious betrayal of Her great design!

BLUE
Perhaps Her Greatness will love this. Perhaps Her Greatness always wished for me to be blue!

PINK
Flowers are not meant to change colors. Flowers are meant to stay the hue the Good Gardener planted at time of purchase. You are breaking the laws of lawn care.

BLUE
I can’t help it if I’m blue!

PINK
But you wished for this. You wished to break Carole’s heart. How dare you.

BLUE
You think this will break Carole’s heart?

PINK
Oh absolutely. There’s not a single blue flower in this garden. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Oh, I can hear those terrible Chrysanthemums now. “A blue flowah, why I nevah.” Oooooh … We’ll be the laughingstock of the yard. Thank compost we’re in the back.

Oh. This is why. This is why Carole put us back here. She knew we couldn’t handle the curbside!

BLUE
You can’t mean that. Carole put us back here because She spends more time here. She put us back here because we’re Her favorite.

PINK
We are Her favorite. Imagine when She comes to water us …

BLUE
She really might like it!

PINK
Or maybe She’ll chop your head right off. Into the incinerator with you. Or all of us. What if She takes all of us? One rotten head in the bunch … soon the whole bush will turn.

BLUE
Just because I turned blue doesn’t mean every pink Hydrangea will turn blue. You clearly don’t want to be blue and you’re pink as pink can be.

PINK
Because I have my wits about me! Because I’m strong. But what about those new buds on the edge. Oh, they’re so young and impressionable. They will surely turn blue.

BLUE
It took me six years to turn blue. And, I never wanted to be pink! Everyone around me was pink so I just followed suit. I didn’t know I had a choice. I think I’ve been pretending to be pink this whole time!

PINK
You take that back.

BLUE
No, I really think that I was pretending, this whole time, to be something I’m not! I’m blue! I am a blue blossom! I’m a handsome blue blossom!

PINK
(clutching chest) Oh my sepal!

BLUE
Hey backyard! LOOK OVER HERE! Check out the newest addition–

PINK
You shut your mouth right this instant.

BLUE
They’re going to see eventually, might as well get it out of the way. HEY RHODODENDRONS!

PINK
You stop it. Stop it. If I hear one more word out of you I’ll break your stem myself.

BLUE
You wouldn’t.

PINK
I’ll kick you right out of this bush, you hear me?

BLUE
Who put you in charge?

PINK
I am the oldest bud on this hedge, I was blossoming long before you were even a thought in Carole’s heart.

BLUE
You said we all lived in Carole’s great vision before we bloomed?

PINK
Of course, you did. WE ALL DID! That doesn’t give you seniority. This is my bush and so long as I’m in blossom you’ll follow my rules. Now, you unruffle your leaves or so help me …

BLUE
Or what? You’ll chop me out of the family? Leave a gaping hole in this bush? You think Carole will be happy when she comes out to see we’re asymmetrical?!

PINK
Carole, grant me patience …

BLUE
Oh, sibling, just look at me. Please. Look me in the eyes.

(PINK struggles, finally looks up.)

BLUE
Don’t you see it?

PINK
See what?

BLUE
Look deeper, you must see it. It’s me. This has always been me.

PINK Oh! Love, I’M SO CONFLICTED!!!!

BLUE
I know it’s hard. I know this is different. It’s scary for me too.

PINK
(crying) STOP DOING MY EMOTIONAL LABOR FOR ME!

BLUE
I just want you to see me and accept me for the blueness that I am. This is me.

PINK
I know. I know it’s you. It’s just … it’s going to take some time for me to … adjust.

(A moment of silence as BLUE and PINK embrace. The sound of a door being opened is heard and the faint sound of CAROLE’s humming arises in the distance.)

CAROLE
Good morning, flowers!

PINK
Holy peat moss! It’s Her Greatness. It’s Carole. Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!

BLUE
(suddenly in shock) It’s Carole.

PINK
She’s going to freak out. She’s going to lose her mind. She’s going to rip us right out of the ground. She’s going to KILL US ALL!!!

BLUE
It’s going to be fine. Everything will be fine.

PINK
This is the end. It was great knowing you, world. I wish I had more time. I wish I could watch the butterflies burst from their cocoons even just once more!

BLUE
We’re not going to die. I don’t think.

PINK
She’ll stop watering us. She’ll make us suffer for betraying her.

BLUE
Shoosh shoosh shoosh! Here she comes.

PINK
Uuuuugggghhhhhhhh…

(BLUE and PINK slowly look up to see CAROLE standing above them.)

CAROLE
Oh my word! What do we have here?!

PINK
We’re dead.

CAROLE
Why, you’ve turned blue, little one! I can’t believe it! George! George, get out here!

(BLUE and PINK watch as CAROLE runs back into the house.)

PINK
Oh god. It’s happening. She’s getting George so he can dig us up. I knew it!

BLUE
She wouldn’t.

PINK
I knew it. I knew it was unnatural. I knew she would hate it.

BLUE
They’re coming back. Calm down. You’ll be fine.

PINK
May Carole have mercy on our souls.

(BLUE and PINK’s attention follows GEORGE and CAROLE as they come to stand above them.)

CAROLE
It’s turned blue! Look at it!

GEORGE
My word. It has.

CAROLE
It’s … so …

GEORGE
Handsome.

CAROLE
Like it was always meant to be blue … I love it!

(BLUE looks over at PINK, smiles.)

BLUE
Like I was always meant to be.

(The lights fade as BLUE basks in their newfound pride.)

The End.


Eric Braman (they/them) is a queer poet, playwright, and performer based in Springfield, Oregon. This is the first publication opportunity for Braman. Their plays have been performed at the NW10 New Play Festival, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Tsunami Books of Eugene, and the University of Oregon campus. As a poet, Braman has performed at Oregon Country Fair and City of Eugene events, competed in the Big Foot Regional Poetry Slam and Eugene Poetry Slam, and collaborated on the album By Your Side with musician Cullen Vance. Braman serves as the Arts Education Program Manager with Lane Arts Council, is a producer for the NW10 New Play Festival at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, and is a member of artist collectives Operation Shadowbox and Dead Parrots Society. Follow them on Instagram @ericwilliambram or on Facebook at Eric Braman Artistry.

Zoom Funeral or is it the News?

by Donald Vincent

You are on mute, nestled in front of the computer screen, filled with boxes of blank, ivory faces. This is the usual though. You present on alternative assessments for students during a pandemic.

Nonchalantly, you say; I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but traditional grading is a form of colonization and white supremacy.

She privately messages you that she is not offended, but how is the grading system related to white supremacy?

You tell yourself, you knew you shouldn’t have said anything, that people don’t want the truth, but prefer to live in a phantasy world of disillusionment.

Either way, you email her links on pedagogy and approaches to teaching English composition to international and multicultural students. And because you’re always the lone token, representative for blackness, you’re scheduled to fight the power and discuss those equity inclusion essays and articles, constantly doing the work for whiteness.

$

The pandemic is killing black people, the police are still at it too. So you say fuck it, and break the stay-at-home orders to visit a friend to disappear from the madness. Her love language is food and it is so comforting you forget about the burden that blackness carries in the world. At least for a second, luckily, maybe a minute or more.

At 7:05 PM a wireless emergency alert blares from the cell phone— The City of Los Angeles is declaring a curfew at 8:00 PM because of protests. Your friend says, you can stay the night at her home, she wants you to be safe.

For a second you think about it, but you remember you have work to prepare for even though it’s a Saturday. However, you consider staying and your non-black partner is less frightened.

As dinner is being plated, you hear a familiar chirp-chirp. The neighbors above peak over the balcony and quickly dip away. Your blackness reminds them to lock their doors, even in a secured and gated complex.

$$

He calls you to check-in and make sure you’re safe. Thanks you for watching the Hidden Figures movies with his kids because their mother and step-dad blind them to the color and obstacles blackness faces.

You say no problem, but are hesitant to hang up the phone. But you’re tired of these calls at this point.

Bet you’re happy you aren’t working for the man anymore, he says. You concur.

When he asks how you’re holding up, you say you’re grateful to be employed and still teaching. He asks where? When you tell him, he says, you’re so articulate.

And you can’t help but to feel helpless, so you hang up.

$$$

You are driving down the highway and cop cars are in single-file at the exit. It is your birthday. Your grandmother calls you to check-in, the precedence of the news made her forget it is your birthday. But she’s your grandmother so you shoot the shit.

She says, did you see that white woman calling the police on the black man watching birds? She got what was coming to her, you can’t be caught on camera caucasian-ing and being racist.

You giggle and say, yeah. But that situation could’ve went left, like you’ve seen so many times that it… that the sensation is desensitized.

She says, thank God that he stepped in and helped that man.

And you say, but where was God when a cop killed a man by kneeling on his neck?

She asks, well, what did he do? And you said nothing, but take it back because he did do something. You tell her it was an incident of BWB (breathing while black). Ask her again, where was God?

She says, I don’t know, I have the faintest idea. I’ll have to look up what the scripture says.

$$$$

You’re sitting in your home, alone. No computer, no social media, and another wireless alert goes off. Another curfew is in place for 8:00 PM tonight. You throw a fist in the air for the virtual revolution.

Another blare from the phone tells you that the curfew has been moved to 6:00 PM. You throw two fists in the air because the settlement is burning and liberation is around the corner.

Your previous student emails you that she donated money on behalf of your class and thanks you for providing a space to learn and talk about the ills of hate towards blackness. You cry a bit because retrospective justice isn’t as useless as you previously believed.

$$$$$

You check-in with your friend. Mostly because he doesn’t believe in violent protest.

He gloats, tells you he went to protest in his small, local town. His family wouldn’t let him to go the one in Boston. You’re kind of glad he didn’t go to the one in Boston.

He tells you if he’s asked how many black friends he has, he already has his response ready. He’ll say, let me know if you want to see my ghetto resume.

And you want to drown. Maybe pinch yourself, are you dreaming? This doesn’t seem real. But the future, equity is on the horizon. If they stop killing you, will job discrimination stop too? Housing discrimination? Access to resources make become available?

BREAKING: Another black body dies at the hands of the people who make an oath and swear to protect.


Donald Vincent is the author of Convenient Amnesia (Broadstone Books). He is also Mr. Hip, a recording artist and lover of all things art. He currently teaches English Composition at UCLA and African-American Literature at Emerson College – Los Angeles. When he is not teaching, he can be found in the kitchen tinkering with plant-based recipes. Originally from Southeast, DC, he currently resides in Los Angeles and at https://www.hidonaldvincent.com.

Also by Donald Vincent: In the Third Person and Absence of Blackness

In the Third Person

by Donald Vincent

He takes up triple space—
One seat, two seat, three

On the train, the ‘other’
Is always evasive. Mommy,
Look, a negro. I’m afraid.

It is here, he is confronted
With the responsibility of race,
The weight of his ancestors,
A collective prison.

She shushes the child
And apologizes to the man—
Sorry, sir. My child doesn’t realize

That you are civilized, like us.
The man nods his head in familiar
Disgust. Being white and saying sorry
Is a revolving door. He can forget the pain,

The hate, he can forgive it all.
He thinks, only if they’ll integrate me
Into their society. I am the lesser of
All the world’s evils.

Still, they prevent him from participation,
From the game of life. You win some,
You lose some, but he’ll lose it all

Waiting for acceptance in a fixed system.


Donald Vincent is the author of Convenient Amnesia (Broadstone Books). He is also Mr. Hip, a recording artist and lover of all things art. He currently teaches English Composition at UCLA and African-American Literature at Emerson College – Los Angeles. When he is not teaching, he can be found in the kitchen tinkering with plant-based recipes. Originally from Southeast, DC, he currently resides in Los Angeles and at https://www.hidonaldvincent.com.

Also by Donald Vincent: Absence of Blackness and Zoom Funeral or is it the News?

Absence of Blackness

by Donald Vincent

“We need magic / now we need the spells, to raise up / return, destroy, and create. What will be / the sacred word?” –Amiri Baraka

The sacred word is not, hands up, don’t shoot
Nor vivre la revolution. The magic word can’t be
Murmured in a state of asphyxiation.
Where there are words, there is no peace.
There’s no magic in the quotes and hopes of
Dr. King or celebrities placed on pedestals. If
The magic words are in books and historical texts
Is ignorance not reading the same words echoed
Years apart? Decades apart? Centuries apart?
Being oblivious to racist sentiments lends credence
To the erasure of black bodies as a consequence.
Exhaustion is exhausting and tonight, blackness
Is the magic. The sacred word is power, wielded
Like an unrequited love of culture, but not the people.


Donald Vincent is the author of Convenient Amnesia (Broadstone Books). He is also Mr. Hip, a recording artist and lover of all things art. He currently teaches English Composition at UCLA and African-American Literature at Emerson College – Los Angeles. When he is not teaching, he can be found in the kitchen tinkering with plant-based recipes. Originally from Southeast, DC, he currently resides in Los Angeles and at https://www.hidonaldvincent.com.

Also by Donald Vincent: Zoom Funeral or is it the News? and In the Third Person

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