Still Life with Black Boy’s Face Overlaying Project Buildings

By CORTNEY LAMAR CHARLESTON

Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, from 1990 to 2005,
hit 448 home runs over the fence for the White Sox

with the notorious Robert Taylor Homes standing just
beyond ballpark grounds across the Dan Ryan Expressway:

the high-rises, bruises against the city-flag-blue sky,
eyesores. When the last tower came down, I don’t remember

the president, the mayor or any other politician standing
in front of the rubble with a megaphone vowing to get

the ones who did this; incrimination isn’t done quite so
publicly here, plus a project is a project is a project.

Whenever folks rolled to Comiskey, they saw those towers
and thought of G-Baby from Hardball, comedic little black boy

baseball player shot outside a building that looked sort of
just like those; Keanu Reeves’s character was kind of torn up

about the whole thing. Good riddance!—their one Red Line
train of thought, tears in their blue and green eyes. Hood

riddance, too. As we drive past, I glimpse the ghost of my young
face in the car window, overlaying the empty lot with reflection.

It’s a place where many people died but many, many, many more
lived. Those are the folks I identify with: I know what it’s like

to live; I have no idea what it means to die—I guess I’m not black
in that way. I’m, as they say, “blessed and highly favored.”

 

[Purchase Issue 13 here]

Cortney Lamar Charleston is a Cave Canem Fellow and the author of Telepathologies (Saturnalia Books, 2017). His poems appear in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gulf Coast, New England Review, Poetry, River Styx, and elsewhere.

Sunna JuhnStill Life with Black Boy’s Face Overlaying Project Buildings

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Finally, it was finished: a hulking, rustic cube of gray-painted wood with huge windows all along the front. In daylight, the house looks haunted—a gray shack with empty dark eyes—but at night, when the yellow lamps are on in the living room and the chimney tosses sparks out into the night sky, the house beckons you in from the cold. The parents were all Tolkien fans, and so they called the house Rivendell: the last safe place for the elves.

Notes on the Inner City book title

Friday Reads: June 2017

We love any excuse to hear from our contributors! This month, our Issue 13 authors and poets tap into their literary communities as they recommend works by colleagues, friends, and Pulitzer Prize winners. United in their affection, the authors are nonetheless divided by their selections, as their choices shed light upon nowhereness, colonization, and Florida oranges.

Good Boys

MEGAN FERNANDES
Once in a car, a good boy / shook me hard. If you like it / that way in bed, then why are you… / the tiny bruises on my arms / where his prints pressed into my pink/ sleeves rose to the surface like rattles. / Like requests. They thrived there / for a week until they settled /