1.

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m a white woman who likes black men. I like the stories black men tell and the way they talk and the way they look at me, this way they have of being sure and tentative all at once, and yes, oh yes, I’m not gonna hide it, the hard sweet way they ball. Still, I don’t like having that reputation, white folks–not to mention the sistahs–all thinking I’m just after black cock. So let’s be straight: at the time I’m talking about, the only black cock I was on intimate terms with was attached to Samps, and I wasn’t after Samps, we just…well, OK, we fucked, we fucked a lot, but I want you to know the guy was homeless, penniless, quite likely clinically insane. Believe me, I didn’t have my hands on anything you would want.

Most of the time I wasn’t sure I wanted him. Yeah, I hear you: if dumb hair-tossing white bitches like me weren’t so easy, men like Samps would have to straighten up, get a job, live right and be there for you. Well, my hair’s too frizzy to toss. And a man like Samps won’t be there for you, ever, I can tell you that, but sooner or later, he always showed up.

Except to funerals.

It was 1992. The first Bush reigned in Washington. The Twin Towers stood downtown and as far as we knew would stand forever, but for me, that was the summer when the city I’d lived in all my life changed past recognition. And the funerals were about to begin.

*    *    *

I was making lasagna when Khorey came to the door, all six foot two, long and lean. My hands were deep in ricotta so I didn’t get a hug. Just ate him up with my eyes which was all I ever allowed myself since he was only sixteen besides which I’d known him since he was a little kid. Just because I like black men does not make me a nasty child-molesting freak though I knew there were some on the block who thought otherwise, like why else would him and me be friends?

He’d come to tell me Junie was dead.

What I felt was a mix of guilt and sadness and relief.  I hesitated.  “How–?”

“How–?” he shouted. I’d never seen Khorey so angry. “You asking me if someone shot him?”

It was not an unnatural thing to wonder.

“The man had two strokes, a heart attack, and cancer, and you’re asking me how!”

My hand flew to my mouth flinging cheese all over my face and in my hair. Junie had been so sick and I hadn’t even known.

“He loved you, Holly!” Khorey said. “Did you go to the hospital even once?”

“I didn’t know,” I said.

“He kept asking for you. Where’s Holly? Why ain’t Holly here?

“Why didn’t someone tell me?” I asked.

“He phoned you. From that hospital bed, he phoned you and phoned you.”

For months, I’d been hanging up on Junie’s calls. I thought it was the same old same old. Thing was, Junie had started to get me nervous. When Samps came over, every time, the phone would ring and I’d hear Junie’s voice: “I know he’s with you.”

“Don’t do this, Junie.” I couldn’t tell if I was warning him or begging.

His voice would go hoarse. “I want you bad, girl, but the doctor tells me it’d kill me.”

Now he was dead anyway.

“You gonna call Samps?” Khorey asked and I reminded him for the hundredth time that homeless people don’t have phones.

Khorey picked ricotta out of my hair. I put on the last layer of noodles and sauce–I’d have something to bring the family–and covered the pan with foil. All Gloria would have to do was bake. I wanted to do the dishes but Khorey was in a hurry.

“Leave it for the roaches. Let’s go.”

“But I got to change.”

Oh, God, what do you wear to a funeral? I needed something good enough to show respect. Samps was always criticizing my clothes. “You dress like a boy, those goddamn jeans and workshirts.”

“I have a pair of brown corduroys.”

“My point exactly.”

Here’s a guy who washes up at a fire hydrant and had the nerve to slam my fashion sense. But he looked out for me. I tried on the blue designer dress he’d fished out of a dumpster. It looked good as long as you didn’t know where it came from.

By the time I came out of the bathroom, Khorey had done the dishes.

“Thanks, baby.”

Any time, dollface.”

Coming from Khorey, “dollface” made me purely happy. Besides, it meant he wasn’t still mad at me over Junie. And he didn’t seem in such a hurry.

“You got any of the clear stuff?” he asked.

Junie used to drive down to Virginia where he had his still and he’d come back with a trunk full. Whatever he couldn’t sell quick, he’d share with the neighbors because Glo had finally put her foot down about his drinking and wouldn’t let him keep any in the house. I still had a jar in the cupboard. Enough for two small glasses, not enough to pass out on which was the usual result of Junie’s liquor.

We toasted his memory.

“No more where this came from,” Khorey said.

It felt like something big had ended. I looked at the empty jar. Well, Samps at least would be pleased. He drank nothing but white wine which he referred to as “piss of the Duchess,” and always disapproved of Junie’s moonshine.

“I really feel like getting fucked up tonight,” Khorey said.

We held each other for a moment. He said, “I’m gonna miss him.”

Outside, the street was thronged with people.  The news had been on the drum and Gypsy cabs and limos idled by the curb.

Junie knew everyone. Whenever someone moved onto the block, Junie checked him out. He knew who to introduce, who would be friends, who could use each other.

The street kids, Clayton, Derek, and Buddy stood in a row and Blue from 151 went down the line lending each of them a tie and then putting it on them when they didn’t know how.

The six of us tumbled into a bouncing cab and took off for uptown, me sitting on Khorey’s lap. I felt his tears rolling down my neck.

The driver had to leave us a block away, the street in front of Benta’s being so clogged with cars and limousines.

“On the house,” said the driver. “I loved that man.”

We pushed our way through the throng on the sidewalk.

“Got a dead celebrity!” called a man on the corner. “Who y’all burying?”

“Junie Frink,” said Khorey. “The Mayor of our block.”

“Mayor!” the man snorted. “Junie Frink was just a crook.”

“Just like a real mayor,” said Clayton.

The chapel was already full, but Spidey was at the door and ushered us in. He was dressed so sharp I did a doubletake.

“Spidey, you’re dressed like an Italian gangster.”

“Shhhh,” he said. “Junie left me his job.”

“Oops.” I hoped no one had heard me over the organ. “But Spidey, you’re not going to–?”

“Just for a little while,” he said, and added, “Hey, nice dress.”

People made way for us. A man placed an arm on my shoulder. “Now you go on up front with the family. You Junie’s daughter, aintcha?”

“No,” I said.

“You his daughter with that white woman from Pittsburgh.”

“No.” It was weird how often people had taken us for father and daughter.

“Junie’s daughter is here.” People took up the cry. “Let her through. Daughter of that white girl from Cleveland.”

“No,” I repeated.

“Oh, Gloria know all about you,” the man said. “She won’t mind.”

But she had every right to mind. She and his real daughters, too. I hadn’t even known he was sick. I hadn’t visited, I hadn’t helped and now I couldn’t face them.

I started avoiding Junie after the time he stopped Samps on the street: “All the womens on this block belongs to me,” he said. “I’m gonna have to get my gun.” I knew it was a joke, or at least I thought I knew, but it wasn’t the kind of joke I found funny.

Junie wasn’t violent. I was sure, at least I thought I was sure. Except right after Vinny Cavallo got gunned down. Some joker on the block who knew a few words of Italian referred to him as Caca Cavallo which, if you don’t know the language, translates as “horseshit.” By the time Junie got through with him, the guy’s wife actually believed he’d been kicked by a mule.

Me, I’m not Italian. I’m Jewish. I went to socialist summer camp. I’m right out of a Woody Allen movie, except an integrated one, if you can feature that.

And no, I really couldn’t see Junie as violent. He tended to get involved after the fact. They, the people he worked for, stored hijacked shipments in his spare bedroom. The last time I’d seen Glo and the girls, we’d all been up there playing with the fur coats that dropped off a truck, modeling them, and rolling around on piles of animal skins. Glo wanted to keep one, but I didn’t mind just playing. I didn’t tell anyone I was philosophically and ethically opposed to fur.

“Let her through! It’s Junie’s daughter from Atlanta!”

“She sure do look white,” someone said.

And then I was standing next to Gloria. She took my hand and squeezed it. God, what a beautiful woman. The two girls, Janette and Patty were crying, but Glo stood there absolutely straight staring at the casket and the four men behind it. A black minister, Horace the Yoruba priest (who I recognized because he was also bartender at Briars), two white guys–a rabbi and a Catholic priest. It looked like a setup for one of those jokes, I thought. The service was true to Junie– ecumenical and multicultural.

I walked up to the casket and there he was in his electric blue suit, surrounded by flowers. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

A woman I didn’t recognize pushed me aside and threw herself on top of his body. People screamed, but Gloria calmly went over and drew the woman away, comforting her.

Prayers and speeches and songs and memories of the man.

When Khorey got up to speak, I didn’t know what to expect. Junie was always harsh with Khorey. I thought there’d been trouble between them. Once I’d heard Junie tell Khorey to stay away from his daughters. “Why?” Khorey had challenged him back. “Too dark for them?” I hated it that Junie was good to me, and not so good to Khorey.

“I could always go to Junie,” Khorey said. “I could always talk to him. He was the only one I could talk to about things I did that I was ashamed of. He knew right from wrong,” Khorey said, “and he wanted me to do right, but he’d seen and heard and done it all and there wasn’t nothing you could say that would shock him. He didn’t judge you.”

I thought he judged Khorey all the time which proved I didn’t know a fucking thing.

“I loved him like a father,” Khorey said. “He loved me like a son.”

Glo pulled the flowers from the arrangements one by one and passed them through the ranks of mourners till a couple of hundred people each held a gladiolus or a lily. I thought the flower would wilt in my hand. The first time I felt uncomfortable with Junie, I’d simply dumped him. Couldn’t people see it all over me, that big red B for Bitch?

When it was over, I caught up with Khorey.  His eyes were dry with suspicion. But it wasn’t about me.

“What’s that softball lawyer doing here?” he asked.

“What softball lawyer?”

“One of your Harveys,” he said.

At the time, see, I didn’t like white men very much, but being white myself, didn’t feel entitled to call them honkies. So I called them Harveys, especially the shitty fools I worked for. I was a secretary at a law firm, and the firm had a softball team, and being very competitive, they sometimes asked me to invite my friends to play when they needed a ringer.

“Where?” I said.

“Over there. The one who hit the pop up fly in the third inning.”

But I didn’t see anyone and no way was I going to remember a play from a law firm softball game.

“Junie never played,” said Khorey. “How come that Harvey knows him? What’s that white lawyer doing in Harlem at Junie’s wake?”

“Oh, come on,” I said. “Everybody knew Junie.”

“So how come he didn’t get up and speak?”

“White folks aren’t any good at extemporaneous speaking,” I said.

You spoke,” said Khorey.

“Yeah, and I bet I sounded pretty stupid. I don’t mind looking stupid. But that’s something a white man can’t stand. Especially looking stupid in front of a room packed full of black folks.”

“You think you know it all,” said Khorey.

“Sure do,” I said.

“I’m telling you there’s something very wrong about that white man.”

And he was right.

 

2.

“I don’t do funerals,” said Samps.

We were in Ti-Jean’s for dinner. Whenever Samps was flush, he stocked up on herb and took me out to eat. I thought the money would be better spent on a pager, or a phone service, anything so that I could reach him when I needed him.

“You didn’t need me,” he said. “Wanted me, maybe.”

“Samps.” My voice sounded whiny. I hated the way being with Samps often brought out the worst in me. “No funerals? What kinda African American are you?”

He said, “If you called me, I still wouldn’t have gone.”

“But at least–”

“Black man carrying a pager. You want me to be arrested, huh?” he asked. “You want me to be police-brutalized?”

No doubt Samps was paranoid, but no doubt that for a black male to be paranoid in these United States was the best way to ensure survival, so though I thought he was nuts, I still let him call the shots. Where to eat, for example. We couldn’t go to white-owned places ‘cause of how they’d react to him being with me. We couldn’t patronize black-owned establishments for the same reason. We always went to Chinese restaurants ‘cause he figured the Chinese, being superior to both black and white, wouldn’t give a shit. The only reason we’d started hanging out at Ti-Jean’s was that my neighbor Claude had recommended this great little ‘Aitian place, and due to his Creole accent, Samps had thought the place was Asian.

The first time we walked in, Samps wanted to turn and walk right out, but we stayed, and of course he and Ti-Jean became fast friends, though Samps still always took a seat with his back to the wall.

“I live mysteriously,” Samps said. “The less you know, the better. If you’re questioned, you won’t be able to give anything away.”

“And I don’t think there is anything to give away,” I said. “You talk like you’re in the Mafia. Junie was connected, and he wasn’t as secretive as you are.”

“And Junie’s dead,” Samps said.

You could never argue with his logic.

So. Ti-Jean was waiting for our order. Samps took out his slide rule. No one in the world still used a slide rule but Samps had a way of coming up with things, like my blue dress, or the pornographic Polaroids he’d found in someone’s abandoned squat along with a dog collar and some empty crack vials. The pictures sold so briskly, he was already out of stock, and that’s how come he was moving slow–a sufficiency of herb–and how come he was treating.

Samps abided by a spiritual practice of his own devising, part of which required that he follow a complex set of dietary rules. He consulted the slide rule to determine which days were meatless, or fleshless, as he preferred to say.

“Why couldn’t you figure this out before we came in?” I asked. “You’re keeping Ti-Jean waiting.”

Ti-Jean didn’t mind. In his country, intellectuals were taken so seriously they were killed, and so in his view, Samps merited respect. He also respected Samps’s age, the silver showing in his hair. In America, Ti-Jean understood, artists and intellectuals are despised. Samps was both–and black–a triple whammy. While Americans couldn’t understand how someone of Samps’s abilities could end up living in the street, Ti-Jean didn’t find this at all surprising.

Samps concluded his calculations. “Fish,” he said.

“Make that two fish,” I said.

Samps handed over two fives, Ti-Jean whistled, and his son came running out of the kitchen. He handed the boy one of the bills and spoke in Creole. We watched out the window as the kid ran across the street. I could actually see through the storefront window to where Wally at the fish store was wrapping the fillets in white paper. He waved at me.

Still Ti-Jean waited. “Will you drink with me?” he said at last.

“Avec plaisir.” Samps took his survival kit–an old green bookbag containing soap, toothbrush, razor, everything, he said, you’d need to have with you if you landed unexpectedly in jail–off the extra chair and motioned Ti-Jean to sit.

Ti-Jean’s wife Afrodille must have been watching from the kitchen because she immediately appeared with a tray holding three glasses and a bottle of rum. Then her son ran in and they disappeared back into the kitchen with the fish. Soon we smelled onions frying.

“I have many questions,” said Ti-Jean. He didn’t ask any.

Now I have a history of finishing people’s sentences and jumping in with unsolicited advice, but since I’d been with Samps, I’d learned to hold my tongue or, as he put it, “sit under the table.” Just listen, be there. Don’t call attention to yourself. Make yourself a quiet part of the environment until specifically invited to join in. Fighting my own nature, I waited for Ti-Jean to make up his mind to continue.

“My daughter,” he said at last, “is not my daughter.”

“I didn’t know you had a daughter,” I said, forgetting to keep my mouth shut.

“I don’t,” he said. “She is the daughter of my good good friend. My good good friend he has died, and so she is my daughter now, you see?”

Made sense so far.

“But look? Where is she? You do not see her here, huh? This is a girl, she has fifteen years. And where is she? So what I want to know, does the government send a lawyer?”

“You mean like to investigate a missing person?” I asked.

“No, no,” he said. “To the juvenile hall.”

Samps and I waited again, this time because we really didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Yes, yes,” Ti-Jean said. “Yesterday the INS come. They say, Where is Marie-Ange? Well, I would like to know that, too, no? They say they arrest her and they going to deport her back to Haiti. Back to Haiti? I think that’s where she is. When I try to bring her here last year, they say no, because she is not my daughter. Now they say she is in this hall with very bad children, and a white lawyer come and pay money to get her out so she can sleep with her family till she see the judge. So they come looking for her here because I am the family. This I do not understand. They say I cannot give her papers because I am not the family but now they say I am. Does the government send the lawyer?” he continued. “He say her family sends him. But I don’t. I have not the money to pay this white lawyer. I never hear of this white lawyer. So who sends him? And where is Marie-Ange?”

Ti-Jean’s wife brought out the fish, but we didn’t feel like eating.

Samps said the story was very sad but all too common, lawyers being liars and crooks, and the system created to hold black folks down and he could attest to it from the brief time he spent in law school. I knew a little bit about INS. The firm I worked for handled some immigration cases–certainly not for poor Haitians, basically for international corporate types and the occasional royal–but even I realized I’d need to know a lot more before I offered an opinion.

I couldn’t help thinking that what Ti-Jean had told us sounded very bad. I felt sick to my stomach for even looking at those Polaroids. Someone like Marie-Ange, she could end up like that. There was no telling whose hands she’d fallen into. But I didn’t want to say that to Ti-Jean. So I stayed under the table and said nothing.

 

3.

One thing it’s hard for a black man to understand is the raging insecurity of your typical Harvey. Even though consciously or out loud they may proclaim themselves King of the Hill, somewhere in the deep unconscious they know they haven’t done a damn thing to earn the privileges they’ve got. It makes them kinda crazy. Not exasperating crazy like Samps, but at least to a woman like me they’re dangerous.

They say they need space. True enough because if you get too close, you’ll see through them. But unless you crowd them, they’re left to themselves, and
there’s so much self-hate inside the self-loving white man, left alone they have to drug themselves with booze or the TV.  They don’t want to marry you, but if you don’t act desperate to marry them, it’s a blow to the self-esteem, a knife in the heart, and they’ll come at you like a pain-maddened bull.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for them. I don’t. All I’m saying is, it’s not like I went looking to fall in love with a black man. But in our society, since the male subject unless otherwise specified is assumed to be straight and white, when I began to suspect men as a gender were woefully inadequate selfish irrational sometimes violent and always meanspirited jerkoffs, black men weren’t necessarily included.

Still, I didn’t go after Samps right away.

Hadn’t I tried to set him up with Voni? I didn’t realize at the time she was Hawk Malone’s mistress, or one of them.

“Too downwardly mobile for me,” she’d said. “He’s perfect for you.”

Downwardly mobile. Me. Thanks.

“But it’s not fair for white women to–”

“Girl,” she said, “you start worrying about what’s fair, this world will kill you.”

So, me and Samps.

Our fathers worked together, chemists at the Transit Authority lab in Brooklyn. I was still in high school when we first met there, over the Bunsen burner where the employees brewed their coffee, and I did not, at that time, like him at all.

Samps had dropped out of Harvard Law to be a painter. My first impression was of a first-class name-dropping phony, but he invited me to a gallery opening and I went. Samps, looking barrel-chested in a too-tight jacket, stood surrounded by admirers. His canvasses, which I vaguely remember as abstracts in brown and pale blue got him some attention at first. Cool, wasn’t it, for a black transit worker to have a modern artist son. But critics and collectors soon lost interest when they couldn’t find any “primitive” African tropes in his work.

Samps told me he became a painter because he wanted to be like Picasso. Not so much Picasso’s work, but the fact that he lived happily still having sex right into his 90’s.

“But American artists die young,” I said. “The Abstract Expressionists died in car crashes. They killed themselves.” Samps wasn’t worried: as a New Yorker, he’d never bothered to get a license and was therefore protected not only against fatal accidents but from being pulled over for DWB  (Driving While Brown  – not “black” –  Samps reserved black and white for film and preferred to describe people as brown and pink). As for suicide, African-Americans, he always insisted, were genetically indisposed though, sadly, I’d known many exceptions to his theory.

Ten years passed before I saw Samps again, one afternoon when the man rummaging through the garbage can on the corner looked familiar.

Art, he explained. He was removing selected trash from downtown and depositing it in Harlem and carrying uptown garbage to Wall Street to integrate the financial district’s trash. He simply performed these acts without any publicity. A pure artist, no one but he–and now I–knew that a guerrilla attack of conceptual art had occurred. He also ate any edibles he found during his scavenging in trash cans and in the refuse discarded by Korean grocers, he said, but this enacted rather than invalidated the social critique embedded in the work.

I invited him to dinner. He refused.

But he started to show up at my apartment. A few times he asked if he could use the shower, the tip-off he was once again living in the street or some squat without water or lights. He came out, teeth chattering.

“I have hot water,” I said.

He said, “I don’t want to get used to it.”

I started to look forward to his visits. Samps didn’t look through me. He saw me. He didn’t berate me for not using my brains and going back to school and getting a job with the kind of salary that could either support a man in style or bring in the double income necessary for upward mobility and the purchase of real estate. He never wanted me to have his baby or called me unnatural for not wanting to. He seemed to respect and even like me as I was. I could not remember the last time that had happened.

Sometimes we talked through the night. He left me drawings on discarded cardboard, interlocking squares and rectangles in primary colors, flat bright surfaces without depth.

Sometimes after he left for whatever squat or park bench he was then calling home, my nerves would burn with despair and outrage, hot with pain that someone like Samps could be so dispossessed.

Since he wouldn’t take anything I offered, I took to filling bowls with fruit and crackers and nuts. He never helped himself while I was looking. I’d excuse myself and go into the bathroom, and linger, and return and his mouth would be full (his pockets, too, I assumed) and the bowls empty. He must have been starving. I adored his pride and was more intent than ever on feeding him.

But I wanted more: I wanted him in bed, and so, one evening, I said so.

Samps hesitated, then retrieved his survival pack from which he removed a kente cloth pouch.

“Don’t do that,” I said.

The pouch contained the two red dice Samps relied on to make all his decisions. Even numbers meant yes and odd meant no.

“No. Don’t. Please,” I said.

He rolled a three, and left.

That was it. No way would I fuck such an asshole, the kind of shithead who would leave my happiness to a roll of the dice. But I was touched that he was so afraid to say yes, and even more touched a few days later when he returned and proved how much he wanted me. He’d kept rolling, till the dice gave him the go-ahead with a twelve.

“Nobody wakes up pretty,” he said. “Don’t expect me to spend the night.”

Eight years later, we were still together, more or less, in our fashion. Two odd people lucky enough to find each other. For both of us, freedom came first. Autonomy. Not love, not security. And freedom didn’t come through power. It came from having few needs and my years with Samps taught me to have even fewer. There was nothing the world could take away from me. I could live in any cramped space. I could go for days without food. Samps did me one better. He claimed he’d developed his sphincter muscles to function efficient as a guillotine and free him from dependency on toilet paper.

Samps and I connected as two human beings. I like to think that race played no part. But wasn’t I indulgent towards him in a way I would not have been towards a white man? And didn’t Samps recognize this indulgence and didn’t he both exploit and fear it?

Samps said, “Diz married a brown woman who laid down the law to him. Bird married a pink woman who loved him and indulged him and didn’t expect him to be a responsible adult. If he’d married a brown woman,” Samps said, “he’d still be alive.” And so I loved him and indulged him and felt guilty as hell.

The first time we went to bed, I felt immediately responsible for his well-being when I saw how this brief intimacy terrified him. He returned the next day, his eyes glazed with fear.

“We have to talk,” he said. “There are things you have to tell me. I have to talk to you.”

“All right,” I said. I’d gone to bed with a lunatic and now I was responsible for seeing he didn’t entirely crack up.

He stammered out his words. “What,” he asked, “what’s your favorite starch?”

“My what?

“Your favorite starch.” He grabbed my arm. “Tell me,” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said. I love pasta, and good bread–bread with crust, real bread. And rice, I love rice. Couscous is comfort food. Cream of wheat.”

“What’s your favorite starch?” he said. “If you could only have one. For the rest of your life.”

“Bread,” I said. “I guess. Bread.”

He let out a breath. “That was the right answer,” he said, and left.

I didn’t hear from him again until a few days later. He rang my bell and came in. We fell upon each other, panting, tugging at zippers, popping buttons, hands, lips everywhere, damn him for making me wait and bless him for getting me so hot and wet from waiting.

We didn’t make it to the bed. My brown corduroys and panties were down around my ankles and Samps was inside me, feeling at one and the same time as if he’d always been there and as if I’d never before known the way a man could feel.

The phone rang and the answering machine broadcast my downstairs neighbor’s voice: What the hell is all that thumping?

An explosion of laughter and semen, and we lay in each other’s arms.

Samps started to snore. Nobody falls asleep pretty, I muttered.

He stirred and woke. “There’s something we’ve got to talk about,” he said.

“OK,” I said.

He studied my face.  “What’s your favorite starch?”

He was nuts. He preferred the word eccentric. For better or worse, he was my bread and salt.

__________________

Diane Lefer is a playwright, author, and activist whose recent books, in addition to Nobody Wakes up Pretty, include The Blessing Next to the Wound: A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation, co-authored with Colombian exile Hector Aristizábal and recommended by Amnesty International as a book to read during Banned Books Week; and the short-story collection, California Transit, awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize. Her works for the stage have been produced in LA, NYC, Chicago and points in-between and include Nightwind, also in collaboration with Aristizábal, which has been performed all over the US and the world including for human rights organizations in Afghanistan and Colombia. Diane has led arts-and-games-based writing workshops to boost literacy skills and promote social justice in the US and, in Spanish, in South America. She is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch, LA Progressive, New Clear Vision, ¡Presente!, and Truthout.

Adapted from Nobody Wakes Up Pretty by Diane Lefer. Copyright © 2012 by Diane Lefer. With the permission of the publisher, Rainstorm Press.

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