There was no opportunity to have a black friend in my home town. Now, I noticed African-Americans at the university. Or I noticed them in order to stay away from them. They were different from me. That’s what I thought.

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As the guards pry his fingers from Van’s arm, the Giggler begins hooting more intensely. By the time they’ve dragged him through the doorway it’s just screaming.

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“Pull a few of your buddies out of the drink with a fish gaff, and the gung-ho stuff is never the same... Smell the beaches the day after a landing,” he added, his speech slow, seemingly labored, “before the burial details go to work.”

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I can forgive myself for ordering the remote, faceless killing of the enemy. But I will never, repeat, never forgive myself for turning these kids, math geeks and gear heads, into killers. Not for this war, anyway.

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Like – I didn’t know that the “sensible” degrees weren’t much better for being “marketable”….that since the Wall Street crash, most companies got wise to the fact that they could underpay everybody, hire part-time, withhold benefits.

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The scab-beggar steps to me on the street and asks for some dry wounds. He can see that my arm is full of crusty layers and he's already eying a big wound on my elbow, the one I wanted to buy a pack of smokes with.

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Why couldn’t people see the country growing? See the unemployed disappearing along with the refugees. There was less crime, no abortion, prayers in schools and the wall around America was one of the wonders of the modern world, it outshone China´s wall.

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Beginning with appeals to authority, we tend to believe we were born because we exist, we’re be(ing) here now and also, everyone knows you can’t have a chicken without an egg. But for some reason, being born is not always enough. You need more proof than that.

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He had been laughing it up with cronies about a cross burning on a young Black woman’s family farm, when we overheard him say: “I want to split that dark oak.”

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 Ideas have no groove. You don’t dance to them, you hustle. When someone says you shall have no more than your share (or less) and they put that in place, you are forced to get up and go.

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And what difference does it make if a man gets drunk and takes his pet goat for a walk anyway? This is America, the Land of the Free, and you would think a man should be able to drink a little and fall in a ditch without some busybody calling the cops on him.

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José made his way into the kitchen and emptied the powder from one of Smitty’s goof balls into Brisket’s dinner bowl. He poured a little beer into the dog food and mixed it around hoping for the best.

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Then one day, a miracle. Erasmus found an ancient Steinway Concert Grand in a curio shop. It emptied my account of all the credits I had earned, plus some. It came to the house on one of the few days people went out without respirators.

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I found my dear friend Aif today. He was sitting in a coal mine shaft, outside of the Arctic, whispering something frozen and long dead, into the air. His body was so badly broken, and malformed,  I hardly recognized him.

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He detailed the frame’s ornamental grooves and the corners of the glass with the rag and his talons. Afterward, Lacy Dawn looked as good as new.  Skinner re-hung the picture.  For an hour, he watched her and she watched him from different angles as the planet’s suns set. 

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To improve upon bathroom habits of those who had little concern about decorum or reputation and ignored all portable loos, the ministry voted to infuse them with 24-hour streaming videos of yesterday’s news. It figured that encouraging natural, daily bowel movements among the masses rather than only the privileged, would go a long way towards cultivating positive attitudes regarding human hygiene.

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Each morning, he dresses the way a cowboy would dress if he were a peer of Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey in the Saturday Westerns of his childhood. He wears newish-looking cowboy boots, of course, and spurs that never fail to jingle, jangle, and jingle once more.

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* SureMed Home will vigorously pursue civil and legal action against any party making accusations alleging resident neglect or abuse.

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From inside the Mercury I watched a bunch of pigs running and squealing all over the road and scurrying off into the woods. My dad motioned to me. The woman in the car that pulled over on the other side of the road started yelling at us as she was on her cellphone with what I assume was 911.

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You said that I am fire to you
just when the candle went off.
You said that you burn when we make love,
that your body of water cannot
extinguish the fire that I light in you.

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His hands had so many bumps and wrinkles that I was reminded of the roots of an ancient tree. But life! The left one flashed up and down the neck of the guitar. Scales. I recognized the pattern his fingers made: e-sharp minor. A theoretical key. One two three four; theoretically.

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And so the monster rose up like some cataclysmic amalgamation of wild animals real and mythical with every serrated and razored and fire-bearing and pus-oozing body part imaginable and now my eyes were not having trouble staying open at all as I stared in disbelief and panic at the conglomerate monster which kept rising and rising until...

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After a few more days it felt like we were the ones sheltering Max. She became frail and sickly, her skin paling more every day. We only really saw Max during meals, and conversation always felt perfunctory and wooden.

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The girls on his campus were not the ones who made fun of the way he walked, the way he rolled his eyes, of his pathetic attempts to climb ropes in the gymnasium, a task required for some reason of all students in the Education Faculty even those who, like him, expect to teach secondary history and certainly not primary school physical education.

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“Is the complaint you are making simply your own account of events or are you taking into consideration the possible extenuating circumstances of the alleged abuser – who of course might view this whole thing rather differently. I mean, is it possible that your own behaviour may have precipitated this extraordinary reaction?”

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I’d probably end up as one of those sad-assed ghosts that never accepts death and wanders back and forth on this stupid boulevard full of nail & beauty shops, convenience and dollar stores, black barber shops, fast food, chicken eateries, drive-thrus, bars and bistros, the Middle Eastern Market—

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And there are some hard truths. Most Buffalo elders notch their winters with salt, Vicks, and canned trout. They grouse about snowbirds and higher taxes. You can get mugged with ease on Clinton and Sycamore Street. Some folks still wonder why there’s plenty of coloreds around.

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The year was 1965, and while the relocation programs had kind of become used up—that is, officially unpopular with program developers—the push now was to somehow develop the existing reservations and keep Indians at home.

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Every night the people of the city gather to receive my work. Ardently they pick up the scattered, dog-eared pages from gutters and windshields, studying every note.

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Perhaps Gottlieb's body had never been found and is awaiting one of those nostalgic youngsters who join an annual search for the remains that, if found, are reburied with Soviet-era pomp, usually without a name, because only the lucky few are found with their papers, still legible, on them.

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“There was a boombox and dancing and guns going off. It got real crazy. I must have blacked out. Next thing I know, it’s the cold light of dawn, and I’m waking up woozy and almost naked and freezing, and Todd is beside me, naked too and passed out.”

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“My kids aint gonna be looking at traitor shit out the kitchen window everyday for eight years.” Her voice was hoarse but tough. “Flip your flag back around right, or we’ll find a way to make you, Lithuanian.”

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“PRO-T-EN Industries guarantees a place for everyone. We offer vocational conditioning, career planning, health and wellness services. And, we are proven to be the top Corporation when it comes to helping its employees pay off their birth-debt in a timely manner...

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last night I saw you plunge from the top of the cliff into the ocean. you were wearing your blond wig, when you emerged from the water not a hair was out of place.

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A fairy godmother gives you wishes, you ask for a dress.  A fish prince gives you wishes, you ask for a sausage.  When someone offers us infinity we can’t imagine what we’d do with it.  All we would ask – a walk in the dark.

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The other day a woman was pulled from the canal unconscious and not breathing. That’s when I realized I should have done something sooner – hanged myself from a ceiling hook or bitten down on the muzzle of a gun.

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Flora choked on her coffee and set the cup back down. “You mean these files we’re going over are about people who haven’t had an accident…yet?”

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I set candles for points and poured out a pentagram. There was usually a sacrifice. I had some leftover Popeye’s chicken, so I set the box in the center. In movies, the teenagers who inadvertently summon demons are usually drunk. I hadn’t taken my meds yet. That was the best I could do.

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