Sin Embargo 2019

  Today there is a creature riding la Marijoe’s shoulders. It is a man-bird, ungainly despite the strong, wide wings it extends. Its long toenails puncture the skin just above la Marijoe’s clavicles and sink straight through muscle to bone. The creature’s ugly pin head turns to meet my gaze. “Vamos, pues,” la Marijoe says…

Read more Sin Embargo 2019

The Devil in the Details

Deborah was a well-formed woman of twenty-six. Tall, long of leg, and wide of hip. Under the white muslin cap and black bonnet, her hair was arranged in thick, springy coils. Her dark eyes were kind but canny. Like many of the women of the Pinelands, she had some wortcunning that she plied in an…

Read more The Devil in the Details

Ink 2018

  Sabrina Vourvoulias’ Ink is about a nation in which “passing” means being able to hide the code tattooed inside the wrist of every person foreign- born or of foreign ancestry. It is a complicated system of blues and blacks and greens meant to be permanent, but that can be obscured or even removed by…

Read more Ink 2018

Ink 2012

The source texts me. All my sources text me these days. Or send me pictures and videos they’ve taken with their cell phones. The rich ones have smartphones; those with just a little money use pay-as-you-go phones. Doesn’t matter to me, as long as the message gets through and the image is clear. Most journalists have…

Read more Ink 2012

El Cantar of Rising Sun

Count the houses of worship: From Tyson Street to Tabor in Olney, you can walk a straight avenue of redemption, rising with the sun. Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, and Evangelical—every people to their house. Only I visit them all, as part of this mester de juglaría, this cycle of irregular meter and spotty rhyme with…

Read more El Cantar of Rising Sun

Sin Embargo 2017

Nevertheless. That is the word that starts nearly every statement I make to my clients as I’m detailing what they can expect during treatment, or during a forensic evaluation should they ever be permitted to witness in court. I say it in Spanish because though many of them have been here for decades and no…

Read more Sin Embargo 2017

Paper Trail

Silvia was asleep when the plane hit the first tower, only rousing at the impact of the second plane because the low din of the television she always slept to had become a roar. By the time the towers began to disintegrate, she was on her third cup of coffee, and the televisions were on…

Read more Paper Trail

A Fish Tale

The woman slipped gold into the pond. Her children watched. They were small and solemn children, not given to splashing or ruckus. Their eyes followed movement in the water. The pond’s edge was roughly laid concrete with little teeth that caught the woman’s clothing when she stood up again. She dusted her hands to indicate…

Read more A Fish Tale

Skin in the Game

I am at B Street and Somerset, headed for Zombie City. Or La Boca del Diablo—the Devil’s Mouth—as the Latinos in the surrounding barrio call it. Neither name shows up on GPS, of course, because maps are pure fantasy. What is real doesn’t fit on a grid. And Zombie City/La Boca del Diablo is real.…

Read more Skin in the Game

The Bar at the End of the World

For a moment Anthony Cardno can’t remember what country he’s in. It isn’t his fault. Most of the countries in the Human Rights Watch unit he reports on are in upheaval, and nations in upheaval look alike. More, they feel alike. The paper flags strung across the bar’s ceiling rustle in a stray gust of…

Read more The Bar at the End of the World

The Dance of the White Demons

I dream in shades of green. The dusty hue of swallow herb; the new growth of little hand flower; the deep forest shade of cat’s claw. Plants are my calling and, as in waking life, they sprawl across boundaries. The old woman dreams of deaths to come. I wake to the sound of little explosions…

Read more The Dance of the White Demons

Collateral Memory

Child’s play. Tag. Hide and seek. Duck, duck, goose. A group of people thrown together for an afternoon, or an hour, or a lifetime. Someone chasing. Someone running. Someone hiding or praying to be overlooked. No one has to tell us it’s preparation for life, we just learn. Like we learn the multiplication tables and…

Read more Collateral Memory

Ember

There is no planet more lush with trees than Broce and so it is constantly in need of the castes’ keeping. Singers coax Broce’s trees to produce oxygen, to grow straight-grained for use, to set fruit and seed. Traders sell the bounty on planets made poor by chance or lack of vigilance. They return with…

Read more Ember