This is how you get your ass kicked.

This is my angry black woman poem. It’s loud. It’s angry. It’s black. It’s woman. It’s loud and it’s angry and it’s black and it’s woman because y’all love to watch us be loud and angry and black and woman.

I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing.

The very notion of a black hole is so alluring. It combines the thrill of the unknown with a sense of lurking danger and abandon.

Throughout the long summer before my mother’s trial began, and then during those crisp days in the fall when her life was paraded publicly before the county—her character lynched, her wisdom impugned—I overheard much more than my parents realized, and I understood more than they would have liked.

How to succeed in heartbreak without really trying: First, do nothing. Become one with your couch.

My earliest memories involve fire.
I watched Watts, Detroit, and Atlanta burn on the evening news, I saw oceans of mangroves and palm fronds smolder in napalm as Cronkite spoke of lateral disarmament and a war that had lost its reason.

I was still quite a small girl when I decided to kidnap Enzo Ponza.

You missed that. Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you.

One day you know more dead people than live ones.

I was born when I met you
Now I’m dying to forget you

Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep. Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me?

“Three, two, one, applause!” The audience in the Beijing studio cheered as excitedly as anyone could be expected to cheer for an empty stage.

It was me who found her. April 1, 1880. The date is engraved on my story same as it is on the headstone, so cold and solid there under the pines.

On my first day in jail, a three hundred pound man named Porterhouse hit me in the back of the head with a metal tray.

I never thought I’d work a job that was dictated by human shit. But things change. When you’re responsible for following men around and cleaning up after them it’s, at best, funny and humbling, and at worst, humiliating.

As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk.

My mom was always more of a friend than an authority figure. But not like a laid-back friend who comes over to watch Homeland—more like an annoying friend who comes over with two dudes you don’t know and starts doing body shots off your sleeping roommate at 3 A.M. on a Wednesday.

You’re gonna hate me when I tell you everything
You’re gonna question whether you really know me at all.

A father’s failure shadowed the life of one; a father’s success taunted the other.

Ventura “Benny” Martinez hadn’t slept in days. This frigid December night, like so many others, he sat awake, stiff-backed and tense in a living room chair. His pudgy, sweaty fingers gripped the handle of a .44 Ruger equipped with an infrared laser to illuminate whoever would be coming for him.

Listen up, newly discovered planet suitable for sustaining human life. We got plans for you. Big plans.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholic’s Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem.

When I was growing up, my mom was guided by the strong belief that to befriend me was to deny me the one thing a kid really needed to survive childhood: a mother.