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My Gifts to America

During a recent interview, I was asked what I give America. (Or something to that effect.) To be honest I don’t remember exactly what I said, but whatever it was I was earnest, sincere and I stand by it. However, I have been thinking about that question and my response ever since. Or rather what I should have said. And that is, me. Yeah, I am what I give America in return for all it’s given me. I give America my presence and my future—after all my children call themselves American before anything else; my wisdom and my talent—all I know I share in the many ways I know and I hope America is the better for it. America has given me a lot, but in exchange it has and continues to get a lot more. It’s not a fair trade I know, but nowhere else has offered me better.

 

Ghana: Seen, Heard and Thought

Akwaaba. (Twi for welcome.)

DISCLAIMER: Ghana made me realize that though I consider myself an African—as opposed to any one nationality—Sierra Leone and Guinea constituted my entire African experience. Somewhere driving on six lane highways, below glass towers and high rise condominiums, strolling around the almost-too-cold air conditioned Accra Mall with it’s expensive boutiques and fast food court… it hit me: this is an Africa I was certain existed but had never experienced before!(more…)

 

[Un]familiar Places

Borders and fences
I wonder where blood stops, skin begins
Yarns and yarns
Miles to find where the patterns in my palm
Make perfect sense to the gods I remember(more…)

 

Looking for Pluto

Sam knew something was different the moment he stepped out of the airplane and couldn’t smell the air. Down a long corridor that looked like the Red Sea after Moses went through, Sam came up on a wide hall with no walls, just endless horizon in every direction. The floor was a beige color polished to a mirror shine; everything hovered above it, especially the people! These people, women as delicate as men and men as beautiful as women; in their white robes over spring complexion, they dotted the endless dome with smiles for welcome mat. They all seem to beckon Sam to come, past them and into the clouds.(more…)

 

Dethorning of the Rose

Almost exactly 3 years later, as he listened to the settlers with their pitch-forks pounding on his gate, Kelechi Machuka will remember the day he said good bye to his last sons. There are many reasons people have few more than 2 children. One of these reasons may be fear of being lonely, needing but lacking company or reliable help when you most need it. I’m not going to pretend I know Kelechi’s reason or fear, but Kelechi and his wives had 47 children:(more…)

 

Wait's Weight

Wytho has been waiting for this day for two years. Add 10 days to that is how long she has been married to the stranger whose promised arrival kept her up all night the night before. How does it feel to anticipate a loved one you barely know? This is what Wytho is coming to terms with.(more…)

 

Letters to my Brother - Verse 1

Dear brother,

How are you? How is your new wife? I saw the pictures on Facebook. She is very beautiful. May God bless your marriage, and bless you with many children. How is the family? How is dad’s foot? Mom did not sound so good last time we talked. I hope she is feeling better today. I sent some pills with Fallah, I hope you have received them. If not, please call his brother. Fallah should have arrived by now.(more…)

 

Science Man

In all your adult life you have not as much as pushed a man. But you don’t deny killing him. In fact you planned it, thought about multiple ways to go about it, and finally decided to do right it in the middle of his living room. (more…)

 

Divine Intervention

He put God on hold. I swear he did. Even he couldn’t believe it. Hell, even God was surprised. Well as much as that is possible.

Like many men Abe never thought he would actually meet God. At least not as long as he was alive. Encounters with God only happen in the Bible and D movies. Abe thought his life was much too real for either of those. So of course when the caller said “I believe you know me as God’” Abe couldn’t help chuckling. Ok dude you going to crack jokes before asking me how I’m going to take care of that bill? But he was not sure any telemarketer was dumb enough to call strangers and even before identifying themselves decides to crack a joke, especially a joke involving God. You know people are really sensitive about their gods. So Abe thought maybe it was one of his friends. Though he couldn’t imagine any of his friends faking a South African accent that well. So he quieted his laughter to give the caller a chance to get to the punch line. (more…)

 

AtlanticRockers: Janka Nabay

 

Green Card Lambs

Mamdi came up with the idea last Christmas, at his sister’s house, after they had turkey for breakfast. They were sitting around in his cousin’s 5 bedrooms 2 ½ baths Edina house; the teevee on medium-high, their voices on high. Somewhere between breathless and eyes full of laughing tears from listening to his cousin recount his first year in America—stealing naps on a shelf at a Jewish-owned warehouse he worked at in New York—it hit Mamdi: Laughing about our pain is how we make sense of America! How else do you face winter when spring was not even in your vocabulary?
(more…)

 

Badala Road

A retired astronaut looks at the moon
And hopes the earth is still blue
It’s the things you don’t see
When your eyes can see
That become vivid as you grow blind

I think

Some of the best days of my life
Are the days I can no longer remember
Yet I try, in every blink
I cry whenever I close my eyes
I try to remember:
My sun—I hardly noticed how beautiful
The moon—I drew God in the clouds
And casted my dreams up
The stars—the twinkle in their eyes
Children like me
(more…)

 

St. Paul Almanac

Couple of piecesthat were recently published by the St. Paul Almanac

  • Inspiration and Perspiration is a short poem about the pleasures and frustrations with writing
  • Going to See My Mother is an excerpt from a larger piece I'm working on
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    The Kids and I

    Lately I have been feeling a certain way about how comprehensively my kids have taken over my life. Nothing has come to symbolized this as how many times I have to reheat my cup of tea, sometimes even before my first sip. Pour the water…“Daddy.” Add the honey… “Daddy?” Lift the cup to my lips…”Daddy!” Sometimes I just want to be like “WHAT!!??” But I take a deep breath, put the cup down and tend to their needs. When I return, my hot tea has iced. I hate ice tea! (more…)

     

    What I Am Voting For

    Economic Security

    I don’t really know what Middle Class is. As far as I can tell it is this wide sea of individuals and families between those that qualify for food stamps and those that live in mansions with enough financial wealth to have their children look forward to their death. I may be somewhere in that sea.

    Both my wife and I have been employed full time for the major part of the last decade. Between us, we have a comfortable house in a comfortable part of town, two cars, and three beautiful children. Every now and then, we close our eyes, damned the budget, and indulge a family vacation. We give to charity, we go out to eat just because we don’t feel like cooking, we send money back home…few dollars in a money market account, college savings, 401K plans…you get the idea. My wife doesn’t go to church much, and I have hardly been to a mosque since coming to America, but every day we thank our gods for this life we live. (more…)

     

    AtlanticRockers: Zaki Ibrahim

     

    Djoliba's Worth

    I was born in Kankan
    Before being delivered atop old German trucks
    Full of djoula musos and the wares they peddle
    Between Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Liberia
    To Sierra Leone and
    Back to Kankan I came
    After the guns knocked on our doors
    And the grave diggers lost their shovels
    But Guinea is a hard place to call home
    When you are young and your French is… comme ci comme ca (more…)