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False Gods

what is holy manna
if not the pills on my nightstand?

moses struck his stick on the rock
and xanax popped out.

it got rid of his stutter
and he looked pharaoh right in the eye.

the golden calf tempts …

Ma’s Cactus

While I am tweezing the first of three cactus needles stung into my right shoulder, my teeth furiously biting into a small rolled-up towel I’ve put in my mouth, I feel more certain than ever that Ma’s expensively exotic plant …

Susu

You are coming from your friend’s. It is Sunday. The date is the 9th of August. You have spoken about the far and near, you have indeed nattered. Y’know it is unusual to converse with an age mate in Rukiga. Nowadays …

The Birthmark

Their daughter is born healthy but a little underweight. Five pounds six ounces, the father proudly repeats in his emails and reports to relatives on the phone. On the second day, before they leave the hospital, the mother notices a …

Family History

My mother digs up graves—
Revolutionary War era

whalers who doubled as spies
and outfoxed the British.

A consumptive farmer who wrote:
This year last we threshed hay.

Always she demands stories
her mother doesn’t care to tell.

Words surface …

What Is Real

(after Stanley Moss)

If someone else is kissing you, death is real.
I want no others to know your mouth,
its clever tongue
traveling across my topography
the island of my moxie.

If someone else is kissing you,

then let …

Back from Paris

A journey punctuated by stinks. Crossing a street in Jackson Heights in Queens mother and son drifted from open-sewer smell at one corner to the reek of piled garbage at the next. All manner of mechanized traffic on slush begrimed …