I watch you grow away from me in photographs.

Good goddamn, the way Julian told that story. It was the sort of story that imbued the mind with possibility. That lingered like campfire smoke in a sweater.

You say it’s up to me to do the talking. You lean forward, place a box of tissues in front of me, and your leather chair groans like a living thing. Like the cow it used to be before somebody killed it and turned it into a chair in a shrink’s office in a loony bin.

I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.

You were at the hospital when I was born. There must’ve been something about three generations being in one room that made history seem tangible. So easy to touch. So easy to hold.

How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know about that.

Her tactical instructor at the police academy had liked taunting them during early morning drills. “Sleep is overrated,” he’d say. “You will learn to do without.”
He’d lied.

One of the skinniest, best-dressed drug dealers in Hidalgo County was throwing himself a birthday party, and I was drinking his beer.

For the modern, middle-class North American, “clean” means that you shower and apply deodorant each and every day without fail. For the aristocratic seventeeth-century Frenchman, it meant that he changed his linen shirt daily and dabbled his hands in water but never touched the rest of his body with water or soap.

At the sixteenth lash, the man strapped to the table loses consciousness.

Black privilege is the hung elephant swinging in the room.

Thank you for buying this book. Or, if my publisher’s research analytics are correct, thank you, Aunts of America, for buying this for your niece you don’t know that well but really want to connect with more.

The war tried to kill us in the spring.

I take these pills to make me thin
I dye my hair and cut my skin
I try everything to make them see me
But all they see is someone that’s not me

Something was wrong.

Killing was easier than I thought it could be, and a lot more rewarding. I finally feel as if I’ve done something important, something that deserves real attention.

I almost forgot what it feels like to be loved because I loved to be Liked.

I approached the witness stand with a warm and welcoming smile. This, of course, belied my true intent, which was to destroy the woman who sat there with her eyes fixed on me.

The storm is coming but I don’t mind.
People are dying, I close my blinds.

Johnny Merton was playing with me, and we both knew it. It was a fun game for him. He was doing endless years for crimes ranging from murder to extortion to excessive litigation. He had a lot of time on his hands.

For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops.

Stephen Torres was meeting with a client at his law office, in downtown Albuquerque, on April 12, 2011, when he received a call from a neighbor, who told him that police officers were aiming rifles at his house. He left work and drove to his home, in a middle-class suburb with a view of the mountains. There were more than forty police vehicles on his street.

“The crime,” as detectives would later tell the newspapers, was “one of the most gruesome in the annals of the New Orleans police.”

I take a pill to help me through the day
I stay inside until I feel okay

The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends. But words are water in Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot, and the church’s east corner is crowded.