Redrum

By KnightKrawler

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In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.??Black Lives Matter.


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This city has developed…a taste for something
The more it drinks…
The more it wants…
No matter what…spirit you crave for
You drink enough…it gets you drunk

There was a girl…that read a book
And for this…the girl was shot
This did not…begin the tragedy
But it made us…stop and watch

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Nat is pregnant. Nothing remarkable is happening to my body besides the fact I’ve gotten fatter. We’re all used to that now. This started well before the virus. It’s her body where things are happening: my pregnant wife. There is a 6-inch boy-to-be somersaulting inside of her right now. That’s my kid in there. Life.?

 

We’ve been quarantining with my parents for over two months. Two months is how long it takes to be in a room watching a movie together, hear your father fart and have no one feel the need to remark on it. I could cry, or at least mist up, probably, if I kept really thinking about it. The closeness. All of us on pause from the inertia of before, with nowhere to be, in a room watching something dumb. Remember, we’re all going to (you know what).?

 

We garden too, me and my dad. Dig out dirt from under a pile of dead leaves. Worms are a black gold bellwether. That’s what he mutters when I pitch some good looking soil into the barrel as he sifts through for rocks. Black gold. Black gold. We take turns wheelbarrowing the stuff to the little, planting square. Pick up speed with the barrel on the approach to the little hill. Watch out for the lilies, son. We plant rows of breakfast radishes that the deer won’t eat.

 

Dad grew a pandemic goatee.?

Now playing on?Otherppl,?a conversation with?Brady Hammes. His debut novel,?The Resolutions, is available from Ballantine Books.

 
Hammes lives in Los Angeles by way of Colorado and Iowa. His short stories have appeared in?Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, The Rattling Wall, and Harper Perennial’s?Forty Stories Anthology.

He’s also an Emmy-Award winning documentary film editor whose most recent project,?Tom vs. Time—about NFL quarterback Tom Brady—won a 2018 Sports Emmy. Before that, he edited the feature film?Social Animals, which had its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW film festival.?For more of Brady’s documentary work, please visit?range-la.com.

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The chants grow loud, loud, louder
Echoing like waves throughout the masses, crying out for change.
The thumping in my chest,
a metronome for the lyrics
of the People drumming down these streets.

/no justice, no peace/

No, there will be no backing down,
no staying quiet,
no staying stagnant,
no staying complacent.

 

He asked me if I made it home okay in such a caring, fatherly tone I got turned on. We met in a writing workshop. He critiqued one of my stories by saying, “You’re very good at individuating based on the desires of other people.” The night before, we got drunk together at a bar near a reading with a thrown together group of acquaintances, and now he was closing in on me in the corner kitchen of another reading inside someone’s Bushwick apartment. I told him, “Yeah, I got home fine” and not “I spent two hours walking around Brooklyn near-blackout last night alone, took blurry pictures of buildings on my phone, and then masturbated about you until I fell asleep at 6AM.” I noticed him staring at me as I walked back to my seat to watch the rest of the reading. When I left he texted me, Where did you go? I couldn’t believe it.?

?

I read Paradise by Donald Barthelme as an excuse to text him. Then I bought the Harold Brodkey book of short stories he recommended right after. The first edition hardcover with a ripped jacket was $7 at The Strand.

?

I’m a sucker for ‘Innocence.’ I read it as a kind of metaphor for the reader/writer relationship, he texted me.

?

I read the story immediately. It is explicit sex for 30 pages. It is hot. I overlooked the narrator’s misogyny and the laughably written female dialogue because I loved the weirdness of the prose. There are times the oral sex pushes past the point of consent. He wants to give his girlfriend her first orgasm and she’s afraid to have it. Right before she comes he says she’s Good.?

 

We met at the Family Forever Noodle House in Riverhead in 1983. Does the name ring a bell? Despite the suburban setting, in those days it was not actually a place for families, nor was it family-owned or owned by someone who had a family. A series of divorces and emancipations convinced the original owners to sell, and all communal feelings went with them. By our time it was the good-for-nothing sort of eatery, a shrug of a building, kept up without a semblance of pride, with walls once white turned gray-green from monthly fumigation. More ambitious and expanding establishments shouldered us from either side, and sometimes so aggressively I thought I could hear a voice behind the walls ordering others to push. I might have preferred to work in one of those places, with their handshakes and napkins and general rule of respect, but then who knows what that would have meant for me.?

I worked behind the counter, U-shaped, if you remember, with a cold metallic surface in which one could find their reflection, at least where it was clean and not dented from customers reminding us of their absent meals. There were twelve stools around the counter, and most were put together so poorly by Mr. Davies—the cross-eyed owner who knew nothing about noodles, knew nothing about any cuisine, as far as I could tell, and who never had a family and bought the place so he could ruin it for everybody that did—that they consistently tipped one way or another when someone sat down. One was drilled into the floor a foot and a half from the counter, and whoever sat there had to count on themselves to balance their meals. It also happened to be in the direct path of the restroom. Of course, this was all to Mr. Davies’ liking, and not only did he refuse the simple work of unscrewing the stool from the floor and bringing it in, he even laughed at those who sat there and threatened not to serve them. But enough about Mr. Davies, the cross-eyed owner who never had a family and still has none.?

Why a Black man can’t breathe
In the land his ancestors
Built
Barehanded, chained, cuffed,
Brutalized, enslaved,
I won’t understand.
Knee on his neck, saying “I can’t breathe”
I. Can’t. Breathe.
The proverbial knee
Of white supremacy

I have been thinking a lot, lately

about the Mayans

and what god-gristle slimed in sparkles

down their wrists

when all too often

they peaked inside singing

a heart-stealing we will go-

love needs air give it air!

and is this not

the ultimate sacrifice?

Now playing on?Otherppl,?a conversation with?Spring Washam. She is the author of?A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Courage, and Wisdom in Any Moment (Hay House).

 

Washam is a well-known meditation teacher based in California and Peru.?She is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness-based healing practices to diverse communities.?She is one of the founders and core teachers at the?East Bay Meditation Center,?located in downtown Oakland, CA.??She received extensive training by Jack Kornfield, is a member of the teacher’s council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California, and has practiced and studied Buddhist philosophy in both the Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism for the last 20 years.

In addition to being a teacher, she is also a shamanic practitioner and has studied indigenous healing practices for over a decade. She is the founder of?Lotus Vine Journeys,?an organization that blends indigenous healing practices with Buddhist?wisdom.?Her writing and teachings have appeared in many online journals and publications such as?Lions Roar,?Tricycle, and?Belief.net. She has been a guest on many popular podcasts and radio shows.?She currently travels and teaches meditation retreats, workshops and classes worldwide. She lives in the Bay Area.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.??Black Lives Matter.


What do I have to do to be human? Do I have to breathe?
Do I have to scream?
Do I have to cry?
Do I have to die?
What do I have to do to be human?
Do I have to smile?
Do I have to speak?
Do I have to be mute?
Do I have to see?
What do I have to do to be human?
What do I have to do to be human?
Nothing. I just am.
And if you gave it any thought, you’re part of the problem.

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.??Black Lives Matter.


Brown skin is a crime
Black skin is a death sentence
Enforced by those that use imagination as “laws”
Policed by those with fetishes of submission
The criminalization of melanin
Gives them an “excuse” to turn you in
Rape of the masses
Not enough bodies for caskets
The human spirit of melanated people
To find happiness in a volcano
The human spirit of melanated people
To find hope in a grave
The human spirit of melanated people

Now playing on?Otherppl,?a conversation with?Ashleigh Bryant Phillips. Her debut story collection, Sleepovers, is available from Hub City Press. It is the winner of the 2019 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize.

Phillips was raised in rural Woodland, North Carolina. She’s a graduate of Meredith College and earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Her stories have appeared in The Oxford American, The Paris Review and others. Sleepovers is her first book. She lives in Baltimore.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is partly about being raised by a father who taught you and your brothers to be hypochondriacs. What’s it like living during a pandemic?

At first, I felt like an expert at handling the anxiety because I’d been worried about diseases taking me out all my life. But this is ?a hypochondriac’s nightmare: a disease that behaves capriciously, that causes no symptoms in some and total organ breakdown in others, a virus that is so tiny it can float in the air for hours or linger on an innocuous looking surface. Just the words CYTOKINE STORM — when your own immune system goes into overdrive and kills you — puts my nervous system into overdrive.?

Prologue

Present, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, Tuesday, 1:00 p.m.

The three psychiatrists and I sit at the conference room table writing trauma case studies. As the professional writer in the room, my job is to smooth out the prose, prune the jargon. We’re writing about children to whom awful —sometimes unspeakable things—happened. The psychiatrists would say these case histories are factual, but I know they are stories and, like all stories, have inciting events, climaxes, and resolutions. Readers long for epiphanies and revelations, redemption, and happy endings. But shift a few words or reorder paragraphs and epiphanies ?evaporate, redemption erodes to reveal darker currents.

Let this sink in,

 

 

so far in
until you feel
that same somersault
feeling in our gut.
It may take awhile
or it may take a second
depending on the color
of your skin or how loud
your voice can say, “I too
have had enough!”