Holden Hall Dorms, 2008

We called him horse when most
called him Jersey either
because he was from New Jersey

or since he frequently wore them. The rest of us
in the dorms knew him for different reasons, for

the day he left his dorm door open
with his computer on his favorite genre of porn.
The asshole a couple doors down cut up the volume

loud enough so everyone could hear his guilty pleasure
and as moans and neighs echoed through the hallway,
he rushed back to his room blushing in embarrassment

to hide his hatred for us all. I felt sorry for him
until the weekend when he had called a girl a nigger
at a frat party as he tried to insist he could fuck

her better than any man had before. The next morning he tried
damage control, apologizing to her, my girlfriend, and to me,

by slipping a letter underneath her dorm room door. She already
had told me what happened by then, but he expected retaliation,

violence, a stampede of fists, a bucking of knuckles
against his mandible. This is how white fear works,
like an overhead projector, covering human beings

with perceived images and fears enough that the actual person
becomes difficult to see. As a black student athlete, in his eyes
it was a matter of time before I would revert into one of the beasts

he called us in private, or while carving hate filled hieroglyphs
into the walls of bathroom stalls. Filled with fear, it wasn’t long
after he slid the letters under our door before he dropped out

and moved back home, worried I would be so thirsty for revenge
that I would tell everyone his secret. The morning he slid the letters
under the door I bust my ass slipping on them as she laughed so hard.


The movie you both went to see isn’t important. How
this date leads to the car, to the windows
fogging is what matters. Initially neither of you notice
the phantoms, the white men
who have been watching you, the way
both of your black bodies become a show
and isn’t that American. To invade the space
black bodies occupy without question,
as if they belong in front of whomever watches. Now
you and her witness how you both became the entertainment,
against your wishes for people you will never know. The anger
takes your breath away, heats up, fogs the windows
on the way home. On the way home you are both silent, haunted.

Deonte Osayande is a professor of English at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, and he teaches youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. His poems and essays have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in over a dozen different publications.

:: more from this issue ::

Four Flashes

Zachary Doss

ISIS, Or Waiting

Kamelya Youssef

Three Poems

Sophia Terazawa

How To Eat a March Hare

Elizabeth Lemieux

Two Poems

Deonte Osayande


Nick Makoha