The Sweet Potato Lady (Deborah Torraine)

2016

When I see sweet potatoes, I often think of Deborah Torraine. Deb was a community organizer in the Twin Cities. She always referred to herself as a cultural worker; she was a mentor to new and emerging artists, and the Director of Community Engagement for the Saint Paul Almanac.

Wokiksuye

2016

Driving back from the reservation, I cross a small bridge into Saint Paul. I feel the troubled waters. I think of my grandfather’s people,the Dakota. I think of how they lived by the water, how they made fire by the water.

Christmas Unplugged

2015

Jenna already has her lights up, of course. I would have mine up, too, except ever since Sam fell into the Grand Canyon, I have been a little behind on things.

Dancing at the Crossroads

2015

Saint Paul is my chosen home, the place where I feel most deeply that I belong. Now. It has not always been so.

Letter to the Lady Who Fell

2015

I'm sorry you fell Tuesday night, a little after 8 p.m. I hope you're okay. Your husband looked mighty upset when you fell.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

2015

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
leaning in the mercado window,
make intercession for the West Side.
Mystical rose of yellow, red, and blue,
protect those who journey through the corners of George, State, and Chavez streets — New Tepeyac, District del Sol.

The Invitation

2015

Tonight she asks you to sleep
with her. both of you in the bed
with siderails, a plastic mattress pad
below.

What’s in a Name?

2015

“All over (America), Negro boys and girls are growing into stunted maturity, trying desperately to find a place to stand, and the wonder is not that so many are ruined—but that so many survive!”
JAMES BALDWIN 1955

Walks with the Chowhound

2015

Selby is a chowhound. an inveterate, unrelenting, willfully indiscriminate gastronome of Saint Paul street food. naturally he is named after the street where he lives, Selby avenue, and naturally, when I come to dog sit him, we commence our journeys from that haunt of celebrated eateries, dine-ins, and dessert stops.

Empty Promise

2015

The world is filled with empty promises.
it’s like when you tell a person you love them,
and they say it back,
but after that
y’all never speak again.

The Drive

2015

Not wanting to alarm my husband and infant son, in case they’ve fallen back asleep, I don’t call. I don’t even text. But I do take a picture with my camera-phone, because I need proof that I’ve done it, that I’m actually here: sitting in a 2005 toyota Matrix, outside the Saint anthony Park library. this is incredible.

In Praise of Aging

2015

In praise of buses rattling through the streets
In praise of passengers jostling for a seat
In praise of a transfer I didn’t need to buy
In praise of snow falling from the sky, and my down coat
Bought secondhand but warm