Scoundrel Time

Pushing Back: An Interview with College Student Grace Smith on Identity and Activism

I first met Grace Smith when she was six. I was an adult student in a renowned memoir class taught by Grace’s mother, Marion Roach. Grace was the little girl who sat at our table writing or coloring until her...

My Mother’s Pilgrimage

  In September 2015—the year a crane collapse in Mecca killed 111 people, followed by the deaths of another 2000 in a stampede—my mother returned from the Hajj with flu and was immediately quarantined in...

Street Smarts: On Confronting Poetry and Language in a Mississippi Classroom

  After living in Washington, DC for more than thirty years, I like to think that I’ve acquired some street smarts. When in unfamiliar territory, I keep my guard up and sublimate the trusting Mississippi...

Exclusive Service

Tom had built up some sort of callus so the leg shackle didn’t bother him as much as it used to. Also, the Team had been very accommodating when he asked for the chain to be lengthened. Those few inches meant...

“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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Suggested Improvements

The red flyer was posted by the elevator On the ground floor by the mailboxes. Management Has enlisted the utility company To come install new more efficient shower heads, Low-flow kitchen faucet aerators and other Improvements that will save money...

Two Cheers for the Middle Class (Mojave Song)

“Reality,” said my friend Fortunato, a neuroscientist, “is a controlled hallucination.” Just so, the unnamable swims into focus, all teeth and sharp corners.                         A guy at my daughter’s fancy school complains about belt-tightening...

Sleeplessness: Eulene-Style

                                        “Knowing I couldn’t sleep made it harder to try.”                                                                   –Marvin Bell Eulene tries anyway, even though insomnia gallops like...

After the Election, in a Semi-Barbaric Land

After the election, I stare at a door. What’s behind it? Scylla? Charybdis? Maybe a tiger. Or else, a tiger. After the election, witch hazel, stubborn, electric, bursts yellow over Wolf Creek. I’m too sad to get drunk. Gold needles tumble all day...

Any Humans Here?

Earlier, in a bar on La Brea, some kid had stared him down. Six-thirty on a Wednesday, not quite (not yet) the dinner hour, and rain flecked the small square windows of the place in dots of light. He’d been with an old friend, small mercy of the...