I will love who loves me
I will love as much as I am loved
I will hate who hates me
I will feel nothing for everyone oblivious to me
I will stay indifferent to indifference
I will live hostile to hostility
I will make myself a passionate and eager lover
In response to passionate and eager love
I will be nobody’s fool
- June Jordan
there are two sheets of newspaper folded into sections, 4 easy rectangles, his face split in the chicago tribune. sent by mail, you wistfully think of the parcel’s journey before it leaned in the iron of your mailbox. the mentor ripped each page like preparing a room for a special guest and less like chore. the words lesbian, dyke, women are stomping all over the print and after he opens the envelope, reads what’s inside, sees his face in a screaming squirm over a microphone. he takes the pages, small squiggling uncomfortable animals they are, he wants to hug them and cast them away at once. he closes his eyes. his image stiff, there are descriptions analyzing his work. praise or critique aside, he has never been ashamed for leaving his hometown.
she didn’t mean anything by it of course, a non-blood related person, a mentor, a proud person for him when she has the time. when his mother died she was there as he seized over midwest garden vegetables, a carrot shrugging, a cheerless tomato just under the bright red to wilt. when that mother now dead, joked over a lunch with all of them, mentor bit her tongue. “what did you feed kay when they were little, tita?” the mentor asked. the mother now dead, had scooped up kanin with her hands as if to assert, “i fed her alot of palo.” her punchline laughed between the grains under her teeth. his fists balled up like stormy clouds only under plastic tablecloth, the food on the plate going from piping, to room temperature, to cold.
she meant nothing by it of course, his mentor, proud of them. how they speak about their people. how she taught him heat and calm over kitchen table talks are strategic cherished channels before the protest. how she showed him how to write a press release for campaigns, hugged him as he proudly grasped loudspeaker at rallies. both as amerikan as they were born, just gazing out to the sky of homeland. together they sat over essays and writings dated as far as 1860’s deciphering herstory in english, tagalog, visaya, pangasinanense. understanding, she let him go about loudmouthed and stubborn. he would walk through her home like a sibling, babysit her daughter as day job and in breaks, he would write poems of running away, of freedom, swaying like paleta cart bells in albany park june breeze. on her stoop he would dream up and out of chicago segregation, mama’s forced-to-be maid hands cleaning houses, titas singing sharon cuneta while rubbing their foreheads from distress. all taking money from under the table.
the newspaper dated in May 2011, his name in bold, is quickly lodged back in the manila envelope. i should be thankful, he concedes. he doesn’t truly have any blood family. it was of sincerity that she sent this. that someone thinks of him after he fled is encouraging. he doesn’t truly have any blood family. everyone is dead and he supposes he can write his way out of feeling dead with them. sentence fragment and stanza, the syllables all work a balm over his sensitive touch for reaching out to ancestors, for childhood homes replaced with new people who came by gentrification after the shootings and drug deals disappeared. back then, the neighborhood wished you pregnant or poised in the military rather than whatever you have become. the syllables all work a balm for a ghost of a city that never saw him in his truest form, still use antiquated pronouns and never think to ask for his permission. no matter how the mentor didn’t mean anything by it, even something as thin as paper can remind him how the city erases, how that city can deceive the most head-strong of its people.
“One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others.”
- bell hooks
– Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, 1984
“We want more food trucks in New Orleans!
That won’t happen with current city laws. The codes governing mobile vendors are out-dated and overly restrictive. Let’s agree to change the laws, so that they encourage new business, benefit neighborhoods, and build the strength of our city’s restaurant industry.”
Sign the petition here
Jonathan Safran Foer (via coffeeinteapots).