Posts tagged "city/urban"
Toledo, Ohio 1977

Toledo, Ohio 1977

Fried chicken and sweet potato pie. Blatz beer on our father’s breath. That autumn Michael and I bagged leaves and burned weed with Anthony, walking house to house with a rake, ringing the doorbell and not running. He taught us how to ask for what we would be owed. We raked and mowed the small...
Beach City

Beach City

We talked about Miami Beach like it belonged to us, convinced that the tourists who came down to swim in our ocean and dance in our nightclubs were fucking up our city. We were seventeen, eighteen, nineteen-year-old hoodlums, our hair in cornrows, too-tight ponytails, too much hairspray, dark brown lip liner, noses and belly buttons...
Hospitality

Hospitality

is when she walks into your restaurant, a tired young woman in fading clothes, because it is the only one that is still open past midnight on Atlantic Avenue and orders the cheapest thing on the menu and then she starts scrambling to put together three dollars for a falafel sandwich from the dimes and...
I hoisted them, two drug dealers, I guess that’s what they were,

I hoisted them, two drug dealers, I guess that’s what they were,

crackheads, I exiled them is what I did, from my son’s basement apartment, they’d come to feast off of what was left of him, his entrails I guess, he’d moved into that apartment with such high hopes even though it was on the bottom floor, and no light, or very little light, there was a...
Milk for Free

Milk for Free

Item: “Did anybody touch you down there?” Down there, I understood, referred to the mystery below my waist, between my legs. A place where my mother  said no one should ever, ever touch me. My mother asks me this question, nightly, as she undresses me for my bath, until I learn to bathe myself. What...
Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

In the filming of The Crow, the only son of Bruce Lee is shot and killed while making a movie about a man who gets shot and killed. Detroit is on fire. It’s Devil’s Night. Sirens everywhere. In the movie version of this essay, he’s resurrected and seeks revenge. In this way, he reminds us...
I Go Back to Berryman’s

I Go Back to Berryman’s

All of the streets in the trailer park are named for fruits or for dead presidents—Cherry, Lincoln, Peach, Garfield—and if you walk them and peer through windows with parted curtains, you will see love being made, hate being made, bodies being discovered, bodies being forgotten, smoking and drinking and swearing and Bible reading, you will...
Overpass Into Fog

Overpass Into Fog

One winter morning after dropping my daughter at daycare, I took the 180 overpass arching into thick fog and, though I knew it well, I couldn’t in that moment be sure where the road actually ended. Suspended between past and future, I disappeared into language and place, weather and love, and I wondered how close...
Poster Children

Poster Children

1. We’re in single file, led by an American flag with stars in the shape of a wheelchair, and headed to the convention hotel that I still think we’re going to picket. I can’t keep up. Someone steps behind me and pushes. I’m jealous of Eleanor on her scooter. We arrive and the driveways are...
Life in the Alley

Life in the Alley

I wasn’t old enough to go to school, and sitting on the front porch watching the cars go by on Fourth Avenue was the most of what I did, when I wasn’t looking down Zion’s Alley at the lives of black people, which I did from the upstairs window when I was sick at heart. (“Sick...
The Saigon Kiss

The Saigon Kiss

Hanoi drivers in their sunglasses and facemasks ignore ambulances and fire trucks—they won’t even move for a man in a faded white tank top, in a wheelchair he ratchets down the turn lane, a boy with shuttered eyes draped across his lap. Kid’s got to be at least nine, nothing looks wrong except for that...
Three Oranges

Three Oranges

I barely remember leaving work, or the transfer to the bus that takes me near enough my home to walk. I barely remember leaving the house this morning, or what’s happened during the day. It’s December. The days are short. I come and go in the darkness. It’s getting dark. A man materializes at the...
Afternoon Affair

Afternoon Affair

On the light rail after work I sit down next to a homeless man sitting next to his black plastic garbage bag stuffed full. He asks me for my name. He is friendly so I give it to him. He is Popeye, he laughs, I am Olive Oyl. He has the sour smell of the...
Old Habits

Old Habits

Almost midnight at ToyJoy, a funky, noisy, toy store swathed in twinkly lights and geometric neon in Austin, Texas. Leila, Burke, and I wander the aisles, shuffling sideways past other late-night wanderers and finger glow-in-the-dark armadillos, hula girls with cowboy boots and tattoos, oversized spiders that hiss and spit. Two men argue near the front...

The Train

My beeper went off at 4:00 am. It vibrated across the night stand until I reached over and grabbed it. The message read, “Sally Card-pregnant-bleeding-passed out-407-648-5101” Sally was the lab tech in my Ob-Gyn office. She had no high risk factors. Her sonogram did not show placenta previa, a condition that causes bleeding. Placental abruption,...

Our Neighborhood

When we walk our dogs at night we see a blue ten-speed bike locked to a telephone pole in our neighborhood.  In the morning it’s locked to a different pole. The neighbor in the enormous house behind ours is a lawyer named Shambie who rides his European bicycle or gathers pomegranates in his back yard....

After the Sun Melted

inspired by Aftermath by Elane Johnson After the sun melted on the top hat of the Mad Hatter with Alice, outside the window in Central Park; after your doctor refused to talk to you, when you were behaving crazy, because the tumor had spread to your brain; after the doctor told us there was nothing...

Things are Meted Out to People and Then They Leave

At fourteen I got my first real job from a woman named Cia.  When she spoke she lisped a little and gutted her words with curses; on breaks she sat outside the kitchen on a milk crate, long legs planted far apart, bright mouth pulling on a cigarette like it was keeping her alive.  Cia...