I (don’t) say that to hurt you.
I (don’t) say that to hurt you.
Afternoon is a jeweler
Setting hours in gold,
As silver glinting waves
Slap the garnet shore.
Gonzalinho da Costa—a pen name—teaches at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby.
During the lead up to the 2008 presidential election, when I was an English Instructor in western Missouri, a student said to me, shaking his head, “A woman and a black man. Can’t we just have a normal person run for office?”
I don’t remember how I responded, perhaps because I fainted. Back then, barely a semester out of graduate school, my approach to handling the delicate issues of race and gender veered toward melodrama. Today, when met with similar rhetorical questions, it is not uncommon to find me crouching in front of the student’s desk like I am taking an order at Chili’s, nodding, probing with my little questions: Why do you think that? After class, we would go to the university coffeeshop so we could chat one-on-one, more in-depth.
Now, in 2016, that black man is getting ready to finish his second term and that woman has the democratic nomination in her grasp. My female students come to my office, which is now in rural Oklahoma where I teach, and tell me in hushed tones that they aren’t feminists, but they believe women should be given equal treatment. Continue reading
The night stars, I’m going to miss them
light up the dark sky, like Dante’s god.
From here, on this cold hill, it seems
the earth is dark but heaven is bright.
Lindie lit an Old Gold, letting it catch on her upper lip as she peeled a tangerine. Her long fingers slowly pulled the skin into a snake, one she could mold into a hollow sphere and use as an ashtray through morning. With the ritual complete, she set the fruit on a napkin, next to a tube of peach lipstick, a plastic unicorn lighter, and a Styrofoam cup of coffee, dramatically lightened with powdered cream and sugar. With the cigarette still hanging from her mouth, the ash bending to gravity but never breaking, she leaned over and unfastened her sandals, deliberately emphasizing the length of her legs.
Lindie knew the man was watching from his room. Where else was there to look? The motel, constructed during the Cold War, had no windows facing out. From within its walls, there was no way to view the medians stuffed with palm trees and crab grass, the causeway beach, narrow and crowded, laid out beyond the lines of interstate. There was no bar, no pool, no cabana or casino. A giant echo, all the motel rooms above the second floor looked down onto the sundeck, its surface a smooth, brown rock at the bottom of a well. Lindie pressed her toes against the tiles, each oval a turtle on its back, the smoothness cold and slick with morning dew. She set her sandals on the glass top table, along with most everything else she owned, and pushed her sunglasses closer to her brow.
. . .
While the daggery brush held its color, evergreen and everbrown, cottonwoods leafed out above their heads, patterning yellow and occasional red against the sky. Ahead of G, impatient and unconcerned with minor scratches, A drank in sunlight as strong as bleach, trying to tell time. Ten a.m. at the leafy, dry confluence between Hackberry and Devil’s? Ten in the morning, and the obvious signs of place: campfire circles and cairns. Couldn’t the others move faster? A. Could. Not. Wait. But she found a sienna-dun bed of leaves and nestled herself until the rest of the group caught up. C came first, sitting on a rock, now that spot looks good too, unzippering trip directions from inside his pants. “Todd’s hiking guide says go right.” A closed her eyes.
B stomped through ankle-high weeds, sat between A and C and relaced his boots; one by one, E, G, and the others came into the clearing. A stood first, looking at the sky again. If she’d known them, she would have said Let’s go, but the group was B’s friends, not hers. She waited, shifting from boot to boot. “Gotta pee?” asked F. Continue reading
Languishing in a state of dire straits,
he contemplates the rate of his life,
the ways of his strife,
the days and the nights.
An abecedarian learning to speak again
in his most recent reincarnation,
walking fine lines between monstrosity