When I woke this morning, I heard you fighting across the street with Cleopatra in the vacant lot that you both regularly inhabit. A Wednesday morning turf war.
We started calling her Cleopatra when we moved in last year. Every night I would hear her from the vacant lot, screaming the most pearl-clutching Afrikaans profanities at phantom companions. I would count the number of times she would shriek “Jou ma se….####!” until I could finally fall asleep.
On Sunday, May 31st, my favorite newspaper, The New York Times, published a list of nearly 100,000 names of the victims of COVID-19 in the United States. On its front cover were the names of 1,000 victims, along with their ages, locations, and a brief line from their obituaries.
I was struck by the array. Some of the lines read like poetry, some made me laugh aloud, and some made my heart ache in their brevity. I imagined each of the people behind these names, and I winced painfully at the thought of many of them dying alone, without their families surrounding them. This tribute from the Times affords them even the slightest recognition of a life lived and now concluded, with dignity.
“Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
-my Great-Grandmother Colligan
This is the tale of Leigh, a stranger who quickly became a friend at O’Leary’s Irish pub in Terminal 3 of Abu Dhabi International, at 8am and two Stellas deep.
I’d been in the airport for 13 hours, and had two more until the departure of my connecting flight to Johannesburg. It had been a particularly unpleasant evening with the only airport hotel for non-visa holders booked to maximum capacity. After being saved from the piece of terminal floor upon which I’d set up a makeshift lean-to with my backpack and scarf, an incredibly kind airport worker named Magdalena brought me to the Muslim female prayer room next to the elevators in Terminal 4. I spent the rest of my night curled up in the corner of dark cocoon of a room, but I had to scram at sunrise because the shifts were changing, and clusters of female airport staff were coming in and out to do their makeup and gossip over tea in paper cups. I seemed to be a pretty unwelcome intrusion, so I decided to gather my things and venture into the heart of the airport.
The oldest one walked up to me. It was the Sunday afternoon of a three day music festival and everyone seemed keen to get outta dodge.
I was making my last trip from the campsite to my rental car. He looked as if he was playing a part he had only ever been told about but never given the script for. I watched him shake off his doubt and walk over to me, chest out and strutting, until he was standing right in front of me.
“Hello Madame,” he declared, “May I have some money? Please.”
This is an old favorite–written in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2011. I was new to the city and was working as an intern for CNN. My first assignment was to go out “to the field” with a photojournalist and capture B-roll of a city-wide protest of convicted murderer Troy Davis’s impending execution. This poem turned out far better than the B roll. But unfortunately, the protests, which spanned the nation and garnered endorsements of Presidents and the Pope, failed in their mass attempt to reverse the sentence of Mr. Davis. He was executed on September 21, 2011.
They saunter around Tivoli Square, between a cinema and a supermarket; at the cross section of American life. Fifty Samaritans with the face of a convicted murderer who found God in a prison cell. Meek and bespectacled, in three days he will be dead. Carter, Clinton, The Pope, and the rest of the world bate their breath and pray for justice as he palms his rosary beads and orders his last meal.
“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, The death penalty’s got to go! Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the death penalty’s got to go!”
But one of these things is not like the other. In a sea of royal blue solidarity, there is an aqua jumping bean darting between people like she’s at a carnival of pious-intention. Continue reading “Pint-Sized Vigilante”→
She found comfort in the folds of the Metro paper.
She heard symphonies when the subway would screech.
The type of girl that remained steadfast in the assertion
That dandelions were flowers
And weeds were just seen as disobedient
To everyone else but her. Continue reading “aubergine”→
Cindered forehead kisses
From the The Lord Himself
Sitting point blank
Fogging up their third eye
With a thumb print of a robed stranger
announcing a Holier than thou prowess
For the day, at least Continue reading “Ash Wednesday”→