mOde for friend who used to be a skinhead & asked me to go to church w/ him

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after taking my Introduction to Creative Writing class, and I thought about how
the air traveled around my ears like vespers from the mouths of the ash trees
and sycamores discussing the war on the emerald ash borer beetle, and how it

ate up family from the outside-in to the inside-out, as well as how far from Asia
and Eastern Russia they traveled to upset Indiana. In Indiana, in our Indiana, we
are like the splintered wood in the hollowed out trees, some tossed out bric-a-

brac of a moment where I see strange fruit hanging about the Hoosier diorama

and matrix of hate. But there we were, eyes break-dancing in the sunlight, giving
dap and fist bumps—brown and white skin honored to touch the other’s, next to
smoking hut. How our grandfathers would see our solidifying functions as some

charlatan move in race relations. Is this far reaching or not reaching far enough,

in a state where Klan numbers rose to infinity? I see my voice lost like all the ash
trees. I see my voice lost in what the sycamore cares not to remember. In funnel,
my friend’s voice got lost in soft echoes, where his mind misfired. I didn’t attend

my friend’s church. Not due to the who—the what he’d been. Our benevolence
took three steps forward and one step back—it rose above the backwash filling
our brains and made us climb to the top of real—the red-hot where blues festers.

 

Photo by Kit

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About Author

Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Theatre, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and he received an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has two poetry books out: Don’t Moan So Much (Stevie): A Poetry Musiquarium (Kattywompus Press) and “This” Ameri-can-ah (Cherry Castle Publishing). His recent poetry chapbook Black Achilles (Accents Publishing) was released in 2015. His previous books are Pulling Scabs (nominated for a Pushcart), Tough Boy Sonatas (YA), and Dreamist: a mixed-genre novel (YA). Other chapbooks are Wonderkind (nominated for a Pushcart), Soundtrack to Latchkey Boy, and Spill (which won the 2008 Keyhole Chapbook Award). He is the recipient of a residency from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P), the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Soul Mountain, and guest resident at Hamline University. He edited the nonfiction book, Leaving Me Behind: Writing a new me, on the Summer Bridge experience at IPFW. Crisler received a Library Scholars Grant Award, two Indiana Arts Commission Grants, the Eric Hoffer Award, the Sterling Plumpp First Voices Poetry Award, and was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award. His poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago, and he has been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and anthologies. He is Contributing Poetry Editor for Aquarius Press, and one of the Poetry Editors for Human Equity through Art (HEArt). Crisler is an Associate Professor of English at IPFW.

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