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Illustration by Rachel Levit-Ruiz

All That She Was

A genius of the South. An embarrassment to the race. Singular American author; craven literary con artist. She was a loving champion of Black vernacular; she was a mundane writer of facile prose. A misunderstood cultural icon; a perfect darkie. Survivor. Victim. Trickster, liar. These are the various lenses through which generations of critics, fans, scholars, and detractors have assessed the life of Zora Neale Hurston.

Vanishing Point

One day, I drove the hundred miles east to visit T at Ironwood and was denied visitation. The clerk told me there was no record of my request. Never mind that I had been visiting my son there every Saturday for five years.

Mostly Hamburg: ’72

December 3, 2020

Confusion is the foreigner’s advantage. Natives 
tamp the nuance in their sounds. Stranger 
seeking refuge pockets vowels, picks gesture,
learns body, gets caught up on the cobble 

Notes on a Ghost Town

December 3, 2020

 1.I made plans to move to Southern Illinois from Chicago in the summer, when people told me it would be drippingly humid, figuring I’d get the worst season of the year out of the way first. Baptism by summer. In the more temperate fall, I’d [...]

Greatest Nigger Who Ever Lived

September 8, 2020

in the selfie he is currently texting to “Lula Mae,”
the man next to me on flight 4853
to Columbia, dressed in a black turtleneck
and a thick double chain,

Excess

September 8, 2020

Two boys, pink in their manhood, lean over a balcony, full 
of teeth. Below: a brown man, skin tired of holding his bones. 
Work falls in shadows around his feet. 
The Puget Sound is bluer than any dream or sky. The boys loom, pink.

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