“I’ll show you what to do,” he says to the girl to his right. He picks up one of the two remaining blue capsules from the little pile – they’re a little bigger than your thumb and coated with blue plastic like a metal M&M. He fits the capsule into what looks like a giant plastic thimble with threading up the inside and screws it onto the corresponding threading on the apparatus: keessshhhhhh. The hollow needle on its neck punctures the pressurized capsule, and the gas leaks into the tank. If the thimble wasn’t there to hold it on the capsule would rocket backwards and its contents would spill out into the atmosphere.

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In Ravenna with My Sister

At first

I saw just one light

crisp blue


line, nearly

skylike, there, high above

the rest

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Avoiding the One-Drop Rule

            This past January, I attended a concert at Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church. The audience in the church’s dimly lit basement was tattooed, bedecked in social justice slogans and, like most punk show crowds, predominantly white. Two hours into the show, a local hardcore band with both white and Black members took the stage. As they launched into their blistering set, I followed my instinct and, bobbing to the rhythm, started to work my way forward through the crowd. By the time the band had finished playing their first song, I had made significant progress toward the stage. That’s when the band’s lead singer leaned into the mic and yelled:

            “It’s fuckin’ 2016! BROWN PEOPLE TO THE FRONT!”

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The Homeless Ones

Because his mother got sick again, he decided it was time to get away. Away, he fell in love with this young woman from outside Spokane. He was an artist with small arms and hair on his stomach and he was prepared to hate her. She wore her dark braids in two pink barrettes and when she let them fall he thought of how his mother pulls the curtain rods out each night. The roads were dust orange; men biked early, just outside the city lines, delivering dry jugs of water to the houses the government marked with stern red exes. This morning, instead of working, he and she searched the town for avocados and flat bread. The streetside samosas had started upsetting her stomach. Single-file they padded along the road and when the roads widened, they walked side by side. When her side started stitching, he slowed and they took breaks at each street pole, her hands on her knees and then her cheek pressed against his shoulder. She told him about the avocados she kept on her counter at home and how they darkened deep green over too long a time as she often forgot where she stored them.

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Notional Appendages

1. Some people think the children should be confiscated and raised up by the state, but I think the state should be confiscated and raised up by the children.1.1 "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." 1.11 But who around with a fish-surplus really would let the fellow starve on his way to learning, or if he could not learn? 1.12 The president-Electoral’s candidate to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development says that the best thing the state can do for recipients of welfare is to "get them off it."1.121 By way of our ethical fish-rubric we may understand Dr. Carson to be in favor of the prompt cancellation of any general program of fish-provision: no comment as to fishing-education. 1.1211 Whence this callousness? Generalized disdain for herd-immunity?1.

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It’s Friday last week and I’m accompanying my mother on one of those annual visits to the doctor. I’m thinking about how it used to be the other way round when I was younger - accompaniment was a grown-up enterprise entirely, and the idea of going anywhere at all by myself would mean tumbling into the jaws of the world of strangers and their lairs for lost children. Emerging from my thoughts, I check my wristwatch: we have been sitting in the waiting room for just over an hour, and I, all too rapidly, seem to be running out of patience. It’s not that I’m not used to waiting, or that there’s some environmental quality to the beige-grey waiting room that makes me physically uncomfortable; rather, I have never been in the presence of so many pregnant women all at once. Bellies bulging like those of malnourished children – nature has a mind of its own – the women have more than simply the obvious in common.

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