Secrets A child in thought is how I most remember myself. A child talking little, thinking a lot, afraid a lot. Loving peace and quiet, hating when he comes home sick. Not understanding her when she rattles on in a language that seems to be English but somehow isn’t. Loving when he promises to take […]

We Do Her Too

It’s a winter’s night in our 13th floor bedroom. Both windows are wide open. The room smells like urine. We shiver from the cold. One cot mattress is wet and leans against the wall, so it will dry quicker. Both sides have been eaten through by too many accidents. We sit on the other cot […]


He bangs on her head with the frying pan. I told you BONG to meet me BONG at nine o’clock not nine fifteen. BONG BONG I had to pay that fuckin’ cabbie SLAP extra BONG SLAP because you SLAP BONG “I’m sorry . . .” PUNCH don’t wanna’ listen. Now get in there PUNCH SLAP […]

Dad Is Dead

He’s 83 today but looks younger in his black suit. I whisper to him and play with the fingers that respond unnaturally. His closed lids make me wonder if his eyes are still in there. For three days he lays in view of 60 empty chairs. My brother comes by with his wife. I come […]


we hold hands, mama and me climb the steps to Lester Weintraub, OPTOMETRIST. he tests me with the chart, changes lenses in the two-eyed machine, blinds me with his pen-light gizmo says SEE YOU TOMORROW. we go back the next night and he adjusts my new glasses. i look out the window for the first […]

boy think MAN TALK

Come in here boy Sit down Let’s talk like men When there’s something on your mind let me know We’ll discuss it What we discuss is between you and me You’re not a man if you can’t keep a secret You got that? Good Let’s shake on it. * Boy Come in here Stand right […]

2 Rooms

He storms into the boys room, whips the  clothing closet curtain back and hollers, What the . . . Girl . . .  no,  don’t you move a muscle. Girl come in here. You gotta see this. She shuffles into our room, cased in her sadness cloud and stands beside him. Look at your brother. Is he […]

Silly Me

When I was 12, we lived in the Lillian Wald Housing Projects in the Lower East Side of New York City. Every summer we’d pass the Pitt Street Pool and hear the splashing and laughter coming from the other side of the high brick wall. That summer day mom said, “You all can go to […]


Do you know what welfare means? It means I’m going with Ma and a big brown US Department of Agriculture bag open in the shopping cart to the Welfare Distribution Center in another project building, across from the basketball court. It means walking past the basketball court where all the guys hang out. It means […]