Back to Issue Twenty-Seven.

After the Storm, It Was Business as Usual


The summer of my seventeenth year. They shot a boy in the back
in Cincinnati. A week later, they shot another boy, everywhere else.
The Panthers showed up. Carried the casket down the church
steps. My friends’ teammates’ mother told us if a cop tries
to pull you over, just drive all the way home, he ain’t bold enough
to shoot you in your front yard
. Henry Louis Gates, Ving Rhames.
I’m not famous enough to almost die at the door I pay for,
though I get mistaken for famous black men all the time. I get mistaken
for still here. I get mistaken for intent. All endangered look
alike. We had a tree in our front yard. After the lightning, we have
half a tree. The backside of its bloom sanded down by time.
We thought we’d have to uproot it. What is dead continues to
die until everything else is dead. It is still here though, leaves
falling from one side of its face. I am thankful for that half of Fall.
It is still enough for us to rake, and bury and collect during
the dying season. I lied about the lightning, or at least I don’t
know if that’s what fell the tree. I wasn’t there, but I left out the part
about everyone’s garbage cans scattered far from their homes.
I’m not a betting man, the only thing I can ever put up is myself
but I would wager the wind brought our tree low. Invisible and sudden.
Like the time a cop appeared and asked me if I lived at the home
I was punching my garage code into. I need it to happen again
so that my story can be believed. Make me famous with trespass.

William Evans is a writer from Columbus, Ohio, a Callaloo Fellow and the founder of the Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam (September 2008). In addition to being the editor-in-chief of, William has published two collections of poetry with Penmanship Books, with a third collection Still Can’t Do My Daughter’s Hair released from Button Poetry in late 2017. His work can be found online at or forthcoming from Rattle, Winter Tangerine, Muzzle Magazine, the Offing, and other online publications.


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