Everything I like is like that man who first thought to take that picture of that starving black child waited for by that black vulture in that Sudan. I like what I write. I am hurting myself by liking things. My words are maybe taking pictures of myself starving me. I tell myself stories in order to clutch my throat. My throat is clutched. Please make me pretty, I don’t want to die. I want to sleep now. I know I am holding this so tightly with sleep. I know I am screaming towards this with my sleeping. What should we ask of in a world whose only word is “Work”? People are not asking of us because they are busy. I am not asking of us because I am simulating being busy. This is the best deal. This is the unasked-for gift. If I saw a starving black child my first thought would not be to take this picture of myself. Or wake. Everyone is dying. There are such pretty words for this.

Photograph by Michelle Agins, “James Baldwin in Chicago”, 1983

Grandfather’s God

Written by Mhraf Worku


——-the frankincense burnt.
the priests, with my Grandfather’s God heavy on their shoulders,
bent, and wafted the smoke amongst those of us
on our knees.

——–there are three, my grandfather had told my mother
——–who had then told me:
——–the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

somewhere in the vast sky,
father and son waited
and somewhere in between the gliding smoke
the spirit existed.

———the frankincense burnt.

& when the suffocating sweetness of the smoke
sensually glided into my nose, grasping me hard by
my throat
—–it must be God, I thought.
—-the frankincense burnt.

& all over me were necks bent,
heads full of black hair covered
in white paint.
& as the smoke burnt, stinging my eyes
i closed my eyes,
—-and prayed to a God that was not mine.


Artwork by Paul Gauguin, “Vision after the Sermon” 1888