Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Darlin' Neal

The report brings news to me. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States. I click off the screen. I try not to think of my brothers in all that trouble living near the border. I try not to think about how sick my mother is, but instead how she still laughs and takes in discarded children. How she talks of all the problems our country might solve if they’d just legalize marijuana. At least it’d be a start. I am thinking of visiting, dropping down in El Paso and driving on over to La Luz. If you know where to look you can see all the crosses honoring all the dead women. I think someone told me they’ve stopped with the crosses. There are too many and it’s not just women any more.

There’s a restaurant in Mississippi where you can sit and watch raccoons and cats eat scraps of fish and leftovers beneath pine trees. There are windows all around. I like to go there and watch them getting along. There is so much food. In the restaurant I’ve heard people come in after church and talk about the aliens crossing over the border. Everyone’s heard all that hate. That’s not news. Mississippi is where my life began. Mississippi doesn’t contain that hatred. It is all over the country.

In New Mexico where I grew up the sky is something else. You should see how a comet blisters down through the sky. Coyotes call and scavenge, trick. What silence when they’ve killed their prey. I lost a kitten like that once.

But I can’t stop thinking about El Paso. All those hundreds of young women’s bodies, many just children, strewn in the desert. Someone saw innocent dark eyes, full lips, long hair. There was a type for a long time. It made them think of mutilation. Cops mocked the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of dead little girls. Mira! Mira!

In that restaurant after church, a Mexican man throws more scraps from the backdoor. Someone wonders whose job he has stolen. On the television up high in the corner, there's hatred, fear fanned by talking heads rejecting hardworking people who don't speak the language, were born just beyond a dividing line, coming here hungry, just like they come to Juarez since NAFTA to work in those factories making American products for pennies, where someone waited outside for a young woman, a little girl to be sent away from work. It's not the same hatred that leaves them dragged through the dirt, pummeled, and brutally raped, nipples bitten off, breasts severed from their tiny bodies, almost all of them around ninety pounds, but here it is the same disregard for the poor and voiceless that leaves them ignored in their own country.

I’m thinking shanty towns you can see from the highway, of cardboard houses, of girls who won't eat if they ride the bus, tangled electrical cords so you can't find the stolen source.How the horror would be too much to believe and you might walk home from the factory to save money, how no one maybe had ever really hurt you before, and you might walk home anyway because who would believe something so unspeakable could happen to them, looking up at that giant Christ on the cross where Mexico, Texas and New Mexico meet, because you would see that giant crucified Christ as you prayed for mercy while suffering to death among hundreds of dead girls in the desert.

You might even take your shoes off to save them for later. You wouldn't want to ruin what would cost so much to replace and you'd think there'd be a later, no matter how hungry you are, how long you've been helping your mother, carrying babies on your hip, walking to work so young and faking your age.

And the man in the restaurant at another table calling over, saying don't you, don't you think these people should stay in their own country and you've been to the border that really isn't much of a border at all if you're going the other way into Mexico and he's telling you that you've got to think about what's being stolen from you, and it's over fifteen years since those murders began and nothing, nothing has been done about it, and it's more than fifteen years we've been profiting from the work of those tiny girls in the factories. No one talks about the bravery. At least it’s not much news. The brave women who are becoming police officers. The courageous parents dreaming of just one step over into another world where there are safe cities.

Darlin’ Neal is the author of the short story collection, Rattlesnakes and The Moon (March 2010). Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Puerto del Sol, Smokelong Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The Rio Grande Review and dozens of other magazines. She has fiction and nonfiction included in the Best of The Web 2009 and has been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize. She holds an assistant professorship in the MFA program at The University of Central Florida, and is Fiction Editor of the Florida Review. She also serves as faculty advisor to UCF's undergraduate literary arts magazine, The Cypress Dome, and for The Writers in The Sun Reading Series for which she brings in writers of national caliber each semester.

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