Scoundrel Time

Capitol Comedy Hour with Kev & Paul

  Inside the Capitol building, underneath a statue of Barry Goldwater, a cluster of Republican members of Congress are gathered around a keg and holding red Solo cups. Among them are House Majority Leader...

Dispatch from Mexico City: On the Relación of Cabeza De Vaca, from Coyoacán, 2017

Such is my axis in the Theater of Space-Time: On this mid-January day of 2017, Donald J. Trump has just been sworn in as the 45th President of United States, to the uneasy consternation of every Mexican I...

Holding the Blue Line: Dispatches from a Swing State

  Roanoke. Population approximately one hundred thousand. A small city nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. An island of blue in an angry sea of red. The Democratic Party of Virginia’s...

Dura Mater

I carried death inside me for several days, waiting That man had no ticket to the concert; he pressed his ear to the wall, but no song found him Bees were swarming; they made sleeves and a hood around me when...

“In the increasingly convincing darkness / The words become palpable…" —John Ashbery

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.” —Grace Paley

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Here

Where do you put the anger and the fear? Hand them over. Here. What do you do with the uncertainty? Pass it to me. The sadness, the foreboding, all the rest? I bare my breast. The blustering threats, the dark and stormy skies? Look into my eyes...

Isolated Splendor

I was aping Mussolini in a pizzeria when the American I fell for called me an asshole, not an overreaction in Roma, the city responsible for romantics like Caligula and Berlusconi. Later that night, soccer hooligans attacked the riot cops, the...

Laughing at the Demagogues

It’s become predictable—though still, I hope, not normal—that a Saturday Night Live skit will be followed by an angry tweet from the new President, using words like “unwatchable” and “not funny.” If these silly overreactions at times seem like part...

Not Breathing Yet: In Response to the Election

I am eighteen years old, lying on my bed doing my homework, when my two-year-old nephew begins his seizure. He came into my room an hour before, fussy and red-faced, and fell asleep behind me, pressed tight against me for comfort. The heat emanating...

Note from a Mother

My middle child is fascinated by his ethnicity. He looks the most Ecuadorian with his dark almond eyes and wide nose. He stretches his arm next to mine to see the contrast of his brown skin against my white. He teaches his younger brother to say...

The Future Is a Ceiling of Impossible Water

I was driving in a rented yellow convertible through the desert, near the eastern border of California. A bright spring morning: overhead, the sky was brilliant and blue, like a ceiling of impossible water. My forehead was damp. My hair was wild. My...

Disappointment

Remember, remember, the eighth of November; of gunpowder, treason and plot.[1] Benjamin, do you recall sixteen years ago how we sat all night before the black-and-white Great Wall television set (with its hues of light green on a warped electronic...

Depending on How You Look at It

In the weeks before Donald Trump became president of the United States, I travelled to Greece to volunteer and distribute some $35,000 in donations that a group of us from North Carolina had collected for humanitarian relief for refugees. These...

Welcome to My Highway

It was her last day, the last hours she’d spend a full night in that box. The gel on her chapped hands, the roar of traffic from the E-ZPass lanes. Was she ever really here? In a matter of time even the memory of the tollbooth would lose the smell...

Square Fictions

Around the time of the election, I started writing mostly square fictions about the president-elect. It began with one a day, then went to two, then three, then more. They were short because he has (we are told by many who know him) a small...

Shuffle Off

There was a time where I was breaking a lot of things I’d fixed, which is to say I was wasting second chances. I smoked myself right out of a position when the regional manager caught me puffing in the stockroom. Then when I found a job at a...

We Need a New Story

A few years ago, a writer friend gave me a bracelet that had a charm on it that said “stories save our souls.” I loved that phrase so much that I began to use it—and a variation (“stories save our lives”) when I signed books. I knew it was true...

I Lift My Lamp

  From the Oxford English Dictionary, digital edition. Asylum. < Latin asȳlum, < Greek ἄσῡλον refuge, sanctuary, neuter of adjective ἄσῡλος inviolable. 1. A sanctuary or inviolable place of refuge and protection for criminals and debtors...

Still Life w/ Gay Lil’ Patriots

yu so fun so danger so smoke so ready 2 deady [next stop: F I R E W O R K S spend $ & get &z off] we bubble buy blame bead up the sky w blood [the libertree thirsty & i wonder what this b 2 me] as yr local majikal hapahaole mite say a...

Murillo’s Saint Catherine, c. 1650

–Hospital de los Venerables, Sevilla She stares with a bearing – experience having brought her soul this far – and lifts a frond, one kind of sword, in one hand, effortless. In the other, clutched to her, the silver plated sword of her own...