In the dead of night, my hands hit the face of the drum
Every beat tears my skin, calling for my love
While shadows of angels are dancing across the moon
Their hands are stained from the remains of my wounds
Ah, my country was my medicine
Ah, like raindrops on my skin
I kissed The Book three times before I laid to sleep
Said a silent prayer blessing the souls that weep
May each tear from their eyes cover my beaten flesh
The numbness in my body longs for the pain that left Read more of this article »
Posted in Poetry, USA
Walking briskly, almost at a half run, Hema loped around the track. She couldn’t believe how much space there was here – so much space to drown herself in. She loved it. Basked in it. Being alone on the track didn’t bother her – indeed she looked forward to these stolen moments at lunch. Instead of eating she would take off, run towards the track, the bottom half of her pantsuit exchanged for flowing cotton pants. Summer on the East coast was not arid like the heat of Calcutta and by the time her legs, unaccustomed to pantyhose and sneakers, hit the asphalt of the track, she was already sweating.
The dark circles forming under her arms and around her neck would later disappear when she exchanged this twin set for a fresh one. For now however, nothing mattered but her and the silence. She tried to imagine the vastness inside her, tried to compare it to the circle of the track. She wanted to picture her lining inside, red, soft and cushiony, waiting to nourish their baby. The image was fuzzy in her head because she kept getting distracted by the doctor’s voice, “Keep trying, keep trying. There’s nothing wrong with either of you. You’re both perfectly healthy.” Hema had wanted to slap his smug face. He had beamed at them from behind a desk cluttered with pictures of a chubby boy with a toothless grin and a dimply girl in a children’s bathing suit. They were in various poses, sometimes with a woman, sometimes on their own smiling into the camera. Each picture was in its own frame. Six in all. The images of their pale white skin haunted Hema’s sleep.
Her legs drove her onwards; she pumped her hands as she had seen the elderly women in her neighborhood do every evening immediately after dinnertime. She could feel the cotton rubbing slightly across her hips, chafing with the rotating movement of her thighs. The shell of her twin set hung directly below her navel and she fought the urge to feel for her bellybutton. She was fascinated by this hole. Its emptiness was evidence of her lifelong debt to her mother. She tried to imagine a cord stretching from between her legs to the center of a squalling, blood-covered infant. She couldn’t. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, USA
paper, lost, black ink, scribbles, two, tow, towing
above, riding, taking
there, light, horizon
ground, doting, dots
links, no links, light
to light, shapes night
| ||city, dominion|
lines, angles, angels
east, west, curving for
meeting, meet, the
stree, streets, movement
below, movement in,
movement above, landing
land, flat, flat, flat,
gone, one, on, e, yet,
Posted in Poetry, USA
Yisroel Rosenburg was not the first student in Yeshiva to have non-Jewish magazines in the dormitory. That is an accomplishment so old that no one dares take responsibility for it. Nor was Yisroel the first Yeshiva student to start a secular magazine. That honor lies with a young Texan who was responsible for an issue of Rodeo USA. The Texan is learning in a kollel in Israel right now, and refuses to discuss his magazine out of embarrassment for his lasso days. Yisroel Rosenburg though was the first Yeshiva student to interview a famous hip-hop artist in his dormitory.
Friends of Yisroel’s father arranged a meeting between the now famous student, and the chart-topping hip-hop star, GJ57. It had been Yisroel’s aspiration for a number of years to be published in a music magazine, and he saw an in-depth exclusive interview with the nation’s hottest star as his ticket into an already overrun market. They met in his small 20ftx20ft dorm room, leaving the rapper√É¬≠s entire posse outside to scare the students and flip out racy comments through the window to the seminary girls, walking by the building below.
“So,” Yisroel began, taking a deep breath and praying to G-d not to let him screw up. “What was your intention in writing this last album… how did you conceptualize it in the development?” Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, USA
(A Sierre Leonean hangout near the nation’s capital)
Red Apple is not just another grocery store – it’s a way of life for Africans in the Washington Metropolitan area. It’s situated at Langley Crossing shopping center in Maryland, a heavily immigrants populated area. Red Apple is owned by Asians – Chinese immigrants with a mostly minority work force from third world nations of North, Central and South America and Africa. This is a place where Africans, especially Sierra Leoneans, come to shop, hangout and gossip. Here, one can give and take updates on past, present and future events. One can hardly see inside the store from outside because its dirty windows are papered with posters and flyers of announcements of past and future events. Many, in fact, are several years old. Inside, shoppers, mostly Africans, crisscross its busy aisles, to buy oggiri and kaenda, to buy maggi and peppe.
The checkout clerks at the cash registers are all Chinese. Immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and South America make up the rest of the store’s work force – mostly stock clerks and meat cutters. Tall poles are welded onto the store carts to prevent shoppers from taking, riding and abandoning them in the parking lot of a huge apartment complex, a block down the road, nicknamed Little Freetown but known officially as New Hampshire Towers. Its rear balconies are lined with rusted railings caused by years of residents hanging their laundry out to dry. In response, the complex’s management sent a strongly worded letter to its mostly Sierra Leonean residents banning this practice, and continues to send reminders, especially to the “jos cam” residents. In and around the lobbies and parking lots of Little Freetown, the tones and inflections of Krio abound.
Claudia Johnson, a long time resident of Little Freetown, stood by the door of the south tower looking for Rugi, her friend who lives in the north tower. Rugi is slender in shape, but when dressed in a burgundy mini skirt she is fond of, her waist and belly look like half a portion of red apple. It was a hot summer day, and Claudia watched her walk on the sun-lit sidewalk across the towers. Claudia was dressed in a locket-and-lapa, an African outfit that is made of a gara cotton blouse and a wrap-around. She is slightly heavy with over-sized buttocks and she thinks African apparel fits her better. Claudia and Rugi used to be dark in complexion, but are much lighter now having bleached their skin. Traces of their former complexion could only be seen on their knuckles, which are resistant to bleaching. Rugi pushed open the door and beckoned Claudia outside. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, USA
[Set somewhere in a USA east coast barrio.]
Si, si, I knew Father Delgato, some twenty years. But he was here long before that, you know? When this barrio was new, he came then. You ask the old people, they remember. Maybe thirty years back it was. Even twenty years ago this was a different barrio. Different south side, too. Better or worse, I dunno. People was poorer then, maybe more chances today. But back then people was more honest, and less in a hurry. Well, times change, no? Them times gone. An’ priests like Father Delgato, them gone, too.
You know that church on 4th? Si, si…that one all closed up now. That was his. Long time back that was something. Everybody went. Mass, weddings, baptism, funerals, you know. But then, kinda slow like, it died off. Times change. Father Delgato used to hold the Mass anyway. Necesscito, comprendi? Only some of the old people went though. I know, I used to bring my mother. God rest her.
But when I was a kid we’d go every Sunday. Father Delgato, his Mass, easy to understand. Simple stories, simple Spanish. Was just a kid, but even I knew his meaning: some things is right, so do it, an’ some things ain’t, so don’t. My mother, god rest her, said he was a genuino padre. I didn’t know what that meant. Now I do. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, USA
It wasn’t until I moved to the US that I started drinking coffee regularly and became what they call in the Netherlands a ‘koffieleut’, which translates literally into ‘coffee socialite.’ Although the average European drinks more coffee per year than the average American, the cultural importance and its effects on the average European seems to me smaller than that on the average American. After all, coffee is a cultural obsession in the United States.
Chains with thousands of branches like Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks dominate US daily street life. Especially in the morning (90% of coffee consumed in the US is in the morning), millions of white foamy cups with boldly imprinted pink and orange logos bob across the streets in morning rush hour and on the train. Coffee drive-ins are a saving grace for the rushing army of helmeted and tattooed construction workers. During lunch break, men and women in savvy business suits duck into coffee shops. Students chill out from early afternoon till late evening on comfy couches at coffee lounges around campus. Police officers clutch coffee cups while guarding road construction sites on the highway. In short, coffee drinkers in the United States can be found just about anywhere you go.
This mass-psychotic ritual causes Americans to associate Europe above all with cars that oddly do not contain cup holders (to an American this is like selling a car without tires), or with the unbelievably petite cups of coffee European restaurants serve, so small that my father-in-law had to always order two cups of coffee. It is my strongest conviction that the easily agitated and obsessed nature of the ‘New Englander’ can be blamed on the monster-size cups of coffee they consume. Not without reason is the word ‘coffee’ derived from the Arab ‘qahwa’ meaning ‘that which prevents sleep.’ Arabs have cooked coffee beans in boiling water since as far back as the 9th century and drank the stimulating extract as an alternative to the Muslims’ forbidden alcohol. Read more of this article »
Posted in Op-Ed, USA
“The River Rue
“offers quiet beauty to campers traveling through the back roads of Eastern Washington”
I grew up in an R.V. park. Not a trailer park, an R.V. park.
R.V., as in Recreational Vehicle, not mobile home.
Just so we are clear. This is a very important distinction, especially to me. An R.V. Park is for camping, vacation, family fun. A trailer park conjures up images (not always fair or accurate) of poor unintelligent people living in dirty trailers on a sectioned lot with a couple three-legged dogs running around.
Located in Washington State one mile from Lake Roosevelt, fourteen miles from the nearest town, two hours from the nearest place worth being, five hours from Seattle. Weekend fun was a keg in a field if you were popular enough to be invited (which most of the time I was not). I began working for my parents at the age of three and stopped at the age of twenty. What can a three-year old do you might ask? Well in my (and my sister√É¬≠s) case we picked up trash for a penny a piece and received a nickel for each pop can. By the time I left, I was running the place when my parents were gone, and was the second ranking employee (my mom was the first).
I have a lot of stories from growing up in an RV park. I don√É¬≠t know if they are interesting to anyone but me, I√É¬≠d like to think they are. Of course, we all like to think our lives are interesting. So, in order to intrigue you, I give you √É¬¨The life-threatening situation involving my dad and drug addled campers!√É¬Æ
To understand my story, and anything else I ever tell, you need to know two things. Read more of this article »
Posted in Op-Ed, USA