Sean Kenealy's Saying Goodbye:
Every work day ended the same way—I’d shut off my computer, put away my files, and I’d turn around and say goodbye to Geralyn.
Geralyn never said goodbye back.
For three months our cubicles were side by side. Geralyn and I didn’t share the same job duties, so as far as office functions go, there was no immediate reason for us to ever talk, but due to the randomness of corporate placement and the inevitability of boredom from sitting at a desk for nine hours, we bantered.
She was a music buff, and despite her age, what I imagined to be early sixties, I never heard Geralyn listen to anything but the most current pop songs. One ear bud in, one ear bud out, giving only a faint sneak peek of her internal soundtrack as she typed away.
“You can put the music on if you want,” I once told her. “Be nice to hear it.”
Our two cubicles were slightly separated from the rest of the floor, making any low noise from our desks get lost in the cacophony of phones buzzing and printers chirping from other workers.
Claudia Owusu's The Night Nigeria and Argentina Play the World Cup:
it’s like the whole of Africa is playing even though we are all Ghanaian & territorial about our jollof, throngs of people spill out over Jamestown balconies, crowd around the nail sized bed of barbershop TVs, restaurant widescreens, & sports betting center radios grasp the shoulders of someone they have never met & will eventually leave in the tangle of memories after the game lean in pull close listening till the message is passed from one mouth to another, beer clashed & spilled as if to pour one for the homies, those who are gone & so missing out on all of the action there was a world cup once where lots of African countries played & everyone rushed home from church as if the Lord stood waiting in their living rooms & we killed a goat for soup & Grace Ashy dropped a song where Michael Essien was the real hero & the chorus ran the words Africa! Africa! Africa! over & over & over again like a skipping tape & even though later on Nigeria loses 1 - 2, everyone keeps saying but we could’ve won, but that Messi, we made him struggle & it’s over but no one goes home at least not at first & so the cheers carry on like a praise break then lingers as if waiting for the second coming or something close enough to mark Black bodies as holy & still no figure moves traffic remains as empty as a can deep into the budding dawn
from France-Luce Benson's Showtime Blues:
Hey. There a problem here?
POLICE OFFICER enters, approaches them.
Yeah, we good.
We? You together?
I mean— Yes.
Yeah? I mean, yeah.
He harassing you?
Harassing?! Man— Not at all.
I got this, sweetie. We’re fine.
And you’re together?
Yes. I mean not—Yeah.
We got on together. He’s a family friend. My cousin’s friend. Officer is there a problem or . . .?
Your little cousin’s friend got a name? (before DEMETRIUS can open his mouth) I’m not talking to you right now. (to AMEIRA) So? He got a name?
AMEIRA looks at DEMETRIUS, nervous, yet calmly says . . .
Demetrius, can I see some I.D.?
Yo, man . . .
I don’t understand. What is this about?
You’re not in any trouble. We’ve been getting complaints about harassment,
on this line in particular. Sexual harassment.
Are you serious?
Yeah, a group of young men have been, uh, grabbing . . . hats.
Women’s hats. You know, uh, those hats, hats with the . . .
Pussy hats? You’re patrolling pussy hat grabbers?
Jill Frances Johnson's Ghats:
I’m racing down Kalimati Road heading for the bazaar, what we call downtown back in America. A chicken surprises itself and me by running into my bike’s front tire. A man yells over the chicken’s squawks, but I pump hard and don’t look back. My cycling has improved since moving to Kathmandu.
I swerve around a toddler at the road’s edge, swerve again to avoid a porter hunched under his bulging basket. Neck of steel, calves of iron, I write in my head. I’m thinking about my article due tomorrow for the school newspaper. The porter turns his head and spits a streak of betel juice, red flecks sticking to my sneaker.
Detouring through Himalaya Heights, the expat community where most families live, I’m on the lookout for one of my friends to go to town. When we first moved into Round House I complained, wanting to be in the American development. Now I like our house, which is circular and white and tall like a three-layer birthday cake. We live in half the cake, our apartment three floors top to bottom. Dad likes to joke how he can never corner my mother.
Alamgir Hashmi's Bulrushes, Normandy:
Though the sea washes up here,
ankle-deep, they are thoughtful,
and a league away in the waters
baby fish knock for help,
hide or slip away.
Evenings along the hedgerow,
in our house the rabbit’s
warm in morels, wild flowers,
swigs of calvados. Sleep comes
fitfully like impromptu love songs.
But the days are nothing.
Strong current, it sweeps over
the lame fringe of brown grass
so the algae disappear
like birds in the sky--
from gun smoke drifting, hunters,
or wounds hurting just as yesterday.
Barefoot, this cold skin of the land
has its toes in the water and deep runny sand.
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