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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Kevin Sampsell

There were about thirty people on the train and half of them had newspapers. Some people held them up in front of their faces and some kept them rolled up like a weapon. They had inky fingers.

At one of the stops, a drunk man came on. He wore a jacket that was too big for his body and his hair looked like a small beat-up hat on his head. It wasn't even noon yet. He sat next to a young college dude and wrestled with a plastic bag full of items. Plastic bags could become illegal in Oregon soon. It said that on the front of one of the newspapers.

The man's breath was liquoring the air of the train. He pulled an old baseball glove out of the bag and said to the dude, "Look what I got here." It was like he was speaking to a child. The dude was wearing cop sunglasses and wore a small, uncomfortable smirk on his lips. The drunk started singing, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and then laughed. He found a ball of some kind in the bag and said, "It's almost the same weight as a baseball." It was blue and looked like a handball. He put on the glove and handed the ball to the dude and said again, "Almost the same as a baseball!" The dude held it for a second, as if gauging its weight before playfully tossing the ball up in the air. It landed in the drunk man's glove and he started singing the song again.

The drunk pulled two boxes out of his bag. They were jigsaw puzzles. "You wanna see a party?" he asked the dude. "Take a look at this. These Indians know how to party. Wanna buy one of these from me?"

The dude looked at the box and laughed a little. "That's the most racist Native American puzzle I've ever seen," he said. The box showed a cluttered cartoony mess of tents and fat Indians dancing to cowhide drums.

"Look," said the drunk man. "There's a Christmas tree. A God damn Christmas tree."

A couple of people moved to different seats.

"I'm the first mobile yard sale," the drunk man stated. "I don't have a yard. I come to your yard!" He found a few other things in the bag but looked at them like he couldn't figure out what they were. They looked like broken toys or parts of electronics.

The dude gave the man a charitable laugh and said, "You have fun, man. Party on." And then he got off at a downtown stop. An older man got on and made his way over to the freshly vacant seat.

The old man started to read his newspaper but the drunk nudged him and began his show-and-tell again. "Look at this puzzle," he said. He showed him one with a painting of an angel holding a baby. "One thousand pieces!"

"That might take you all day," the old man said. He seemed good natured, patient.

The drunk thought about this and seemed lost in thought for a moment. "It might take me forever," he said soberly.

Kevin Sampsell lives in Portland, Oregon and works at Powell's City of Books. He is the author of the memoir, A Common Pornography. His small press, Future Tense Books, can be found at www.futuretensebooks.com.

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