Thursday, August 6, 2015

Introduction to Wince

In March of 2012, I wrote "Wince" as an relief valve. After Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and the media began slandering that boy, I was furious. Irate. And then a friend asked what I wanted to see come out of this tragedy and that started the essay.

But I realize that there are more, so many more victims of police brutality and lynch mob mentality. Nearly 4000 black men, women, and children were lynched between 1877 and 1960 (according to the Equal Justice Initiative). So many killed and brutalized by America's obsession with destroyign the black body.

Slavery was a crime, and the black body is evidence. Those who cannot face their collective guilt and shame instead seek to hide the evidence - us - under allegations of drugs, poverty, violence, and death.

...and Terrence Williams, Felipe Santos, 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Postscript to Wince

and Sgt. James Brown, Raymond Allen, Dante Price, Nehemiah Dillard, Wendell Allen, Shereese Francis, Rekia Boyd, Kendric McDade, Ervin Jefferson, Tamon Robinson, Sharmel Edwards, Shantel Davis, Chavis Carter, Reynaldo Cuevas, Malissa Williams, Timothy Russell, Johnnie Kamahi Warren, Kimani Gray, Deion Fludd, Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., Carlos Alcis, Jonathan Ferrell, Miriam Carey, Andy Lopez, Jordan Baker, McKenzie Cochran, Yvette Smith, Victor White III, Eric garner, Tyree Woodson, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Dante Parker, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Justus Howell, Gregory Thomas Smith, Autumn Steele, Tommy McClain, Dillon Taylor, Frank Mendoza, Brandon Ellingson, Tyler Comstock, Jack Lamar Roberson, Angel Chiwengo, Denis Reynoso, Henry C. Taylor, Roza Sakhina, Hans Arellano, John Wrana, Tyrone West, Eugene Mallory, Andrea Rebello, Ivan Romero, Marlon Brown, Cleman Sweptson, Shawn Joseph Jetmore Stoddard-Nunez, Marie Zienkewicz, John Turner, Kathryn Walters, Maxmillian Walters, Oscar Grant III, Aiyanna Jones, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., Jordan Davis, Kam Brock, Sureshi Patel, Renisha McBride, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Antonio Martin, Tony Robinson, Meagan Hockaday, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, The Emanuel Nine (Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, and the Honorable Clementa C. Pinckney), Mount Zion AME, God's power Church of Christ, Briar Creek Road Baptist, Glover Grove Missionary Baptist, College Hill Seventh Day Adventist, Raynetta Turner, Kindra Chapman, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Jaydon Chavez-Silver, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Kelly Brinson, Charly "Africa" Keunang, Zachary Hammond, Brendon Glenn, James Boyd, Emerson Crayton Jr., Jennifer Stelly, charnesia Corley, Christian Taylor, Radazz Hearns, Rashod McNulty, Samantha Dean, Shade Schuler, Amber Monroe, Ashton Ohara, Kandis Capri, Samuel Harrell, Terrance Kellom, India Clarke, KC Haggard, Amber Monroe, Shade Schuler, Kandis Capri, Elisha Walker, Ashton O'Hara, Tamara Dominguez, Mansur Ball-Bey, Jerame Reid, Liz Vargas, Lennon Lacy, Kim Nguyen, jamychael Mitchell, Carlos Mercado

and, and and every goddamn day and. 

Today, July 29

I believe this wave of race-based violence we've seen lately is sublimated rage. The people who commit these acts of violence, murder, and terrorism may share a sublimated hatred of Obama. The unmistakable fact of his presidency disturbs the racist on deep levels. At first, they tried to de-legitimize his presidency and his citizenship. When that didn't work, they resorted to obstinant head-in-the-sand tactics. when that failed, they resorted to violence - not against Obama, but against easier prey. Women, sleeping children, unarmed people on the street.

I always expected they would come after me. I was an Obama fundraiser. I registered voters and co-founded Students for Obama. I live alone. I'm a visible target. But these cowards have other plans.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I'm Out Of Coffee

Half and half, Half and half,
Half and half onward,
None in my empty French press
I'm out of coffee.
"Ruta Maya forever!
"I'll even drink Folgers!" I said:
No flat white, no Cafe' Zorro
I'm out of coffee.

"Expresso, to me!"
Was there a man dismay'd? (Yes.)
Not tho' the writer knew
Himself had blunder'd:
Mine not to make reply,
Mine not to reason why,
Mine but to weep and cry:
No Cafe Touba for me this day,
I'm out of coffee.

Coffee to the right of me,
Coffee to the left of me,
Coffee in front of me
Steam'd and filter'd;
Boil'd bean and grind,
Boldly I drank and fine,
Into the crack of Morn,
Into the mouth of Hell
I'm out of coffee.

Search'd all my cupboards bare,
Search'd but found not a hair,
Save cursed decaf once left there,
Boiling water, while
All the world wonder'd:
City Cafe or Starbucks.
I have to get dressed and that sucks;
Mocha, cappucino, cafe au lait
Without coffee all is astray
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they brewed more, but I'm...
I'm out of coffee.

Coffee to the right of me,
Coffee to the left of me,
Coffee in front of me
Steam'd and filter'd;
Boil'd bean and grind,
While carafe and cup fell,
They that had served so well
Not Black Tie, nor Black Eye
Nor Breve, nor Depth Charge.
I'm out of coffee.

When will my coffee brew?
O the caffeine I knew!
All the world wondered.
Honour the coffee I made,
It was freakin' Fair Trade!
I'm out of coffee.

(Written by Andy Johnson on the morning of January 13, 2015, when he realized he was out of coffee.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Fisher King

This has been the quietest holiday season I've had in years. I don't know how to think about that. No travel, no trips to Half Price Books for gifts, so serious mishaps, no family. I spent Christmas Day and New Year's Eve alone, in my small house on the end of Main Street. Part of me missed the usual hullaballoo. And part of me didn't.

In part of a long talk with H., I admitted that I still suffer from flashbacks, especially around the holiday season. The smallest thing can trigger them - something on TV, a smell, a random thought, old photos. The flashbacks always take me to the same place: betrayal and revenge. Even now, typing, hundreds of miles away from those who harmed me and my daughter, I still feel the sensation of hot bricks against my soul. I could be the Fisher King, always in pain, never healing, robbed of family. I could be, but I'm not - at least not quite. But I don't entirely know what I am either.

Now I feel heavy. My back and hips hurt, as usual. I'd love (LOVE) for a doctor to take me seriously when I say my hip hurts for the umpteenth time. It's been hurting since that car wreck in 1994. So maybe I am the Fisher King.

Almost no one is out and about. I've seen a few cars, and someone ducked into the hair salon across the street. A stray cat ate the food I set out this morning. While the streets are empty, the ghost run the town. Two of them have already fought over my radio, turning it off and on, off and on again. Several items have knocked themselves off shelves or countertops. I'm in no hurry to evict them. When you're alone, ghosts can be good company. Later today, I'll go to Egan's and watch the Alabama-Ohio game. I'll be social and around people. And then I'll come home, to the ghosts and their squabble.

I don;t know why they like my radio so much. Maybe they just like music, or maybe, like me, they need the sounds of human voices to remind them of who they are.