Collective Unrest

 

Seventy-First & Everybody Else

January 16, 2019

for Harith Augustus

My heart thuds the panic of a death sentence
kicking it into view, policeman on my television
flooding streets they call problems, their batons
bludgeons cudgeling bloody people screaming for
their lives, another neighbor toppled early to his
grave pierced by bullets shed by soldiers seeking
answers to their problems between the eyes of each
stranger they refuse to identify as someone like a
human, each bullet a missile a wound a curse carried
by hearses run weary, their engines worn from wheels
sinking from too many bodies harvested for proof
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Li Lei’s Big Escape

January 16, 2019

1 Fan Hong, the aspiring singer, is crouching on the ground eating out of an upturned dustbin. Wang Liheng, the former vagrant, is grabbing snacks from the hands of bewildered commuters. Huang Ni, the grieving mother, was last seen sleeping on the bathroom floor. Li Lei sits on the bench in her turquoise gown enjoying the breeze in her hair. In her years at Kangning Hospital, she has seen every type of madness: depression, dementia, the madness of a man who threw a jar of acid at a woman for not returning his love, the madness of those who run down the street naked. Even with the budget as stretched as it is, she shakes her head at the incompetence that led to their abandonment at the station.

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Go Ask Alice

January 16, 2019

Once, only a few months ago, there was a little yellow house in our neighborhood. It stood only a half block from our apartment, just up from the corner where the Tuba Man's Bar sign glows in pink and yellow neon. That glow marked the boundary between "street life grittiness and the neighborhood, a world of ancient lawns, quietly fading residences, and this little yellow house.

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I don’t know what to do

January 9, 2019

The limit of color is a vacuum sealed secret. The lighter the pigment, the darker the past actions, or so it seems.

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Insects of War

January 9, 2019

Do you remember being small and singing that bringing home a baby bumble bee would make my mommy proud of me? But when the two tallest roses in our meadow were plucked the bee was squashed, it’s warm, yellow fuzz wiped off our hands.

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They Ask Us

January 9, 2019

They ask us to be temples. Bodies gilded, floral, wrapped. Bodies holy and kept. Made for the mouths of praying men. Wholly preyed bodies. They ask us to be temples, not goddesses.

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Employment

January 9, 2019

A moderately plump woman escorts him into a fairly spacious office. He is rangy and he is along in years, six decades since birth. The moderately plump woman is about half that, three decades. The office’s focal point is a large desk made of either wood or fake wood, mahogany perhaps. A padded swivel chair, black vinyl, is in back of the desk. A meek folding chair is in front of the desk. A few other folding chairs lean against a wall. The walls are beige. Also against a wall are a couple of gray filing cabinets. Some framed certificates proclaiming education and/or achievement, such as Employee of the Year, embellish a portion of the wall that’s in the vicinity of the desk. Those accolades are easily viewed by whomever might be seated on the folding chair in front of the desk. Gray mini-blinds at the room’s two windows are angled slightly open, muted sunlight emitted. Fixtures fastened to the ceiling provide more substantial light by way of fluorescence. A short-nap carpet blankets the floor. The carpet is an unobtrusive brown.

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To The Nazis Who Marched On Charlottesville

January 2, 2019

We will replace you. The torches you carried only provided better lighting, allowing us to put faces to the hate-filled souls we already knew were there. We will call you out.

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Pulse

January 2, 2019

I listened to the soft racism in the booth next to me. Heard it spread across the room, become sexist and then homophobic before it rested at my foot. Western Colorado is not all that unlike Utah, or Texas, or Alabama; all places that pretend to be different but hold the same

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On Being Black and Blue

January 2, 2019

There is this word that I was always told wasn’t for me. “It isn’t something we use.” And when the world behind my eyes was too bright, pitched to the side, not quite enough. Old color, not quite black and white, grainy skies, I would squint at this word and wonder.

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