By Harold Jaffe
The perils are vast, the receptors are slick, seductively small.
The perils are not vast, the receptors are not slick, seductively small.
I see the homeless huddled against the steel-glass wall of the stock exchange.
You do not see the homeless huddled against the steel-glass wall of the stock exchange.
I see for-profit prisons filled with colored poor.
You do not see for-profit prisons filled with colored poor.
The semi-invisible line defining (relative) civility is effaced.
There is no semi-invisible line defining (relative) civility.
The semi-invisible line that kept undisguised cruelty toward the disadvantaged partially in check is effaced.
There was no semi-invisible line that kept undisguised cruelty toward the disadvantaged partially in check.
Once effaced, an epidemic of police violence is unleashed against black young men and women.
There has been no epidemic of police violence unleashed against black young men and women.
I see first-world jets bomb from above the cloud line.
You do not see first-world jets bomb from above the cloud line.
Collateral damage? The pilot consults his monitor and yawns.
There is no collateral damage. The pilot does not consult his monitor and yawn.
When is terror called righteous assault? When first-world ethnociders say it is.
Terror is not called righteous assault. There are no first-world ethnociders.
Ethnocide morphs into entertainment. I see a non-stop circus engendered by lies and money.
Ethnocide does not morph into entertainment. You do not see a non-stop circus engendered by lies and money.
The world as we know it perishes / humans take selfies.
The world as we know it does not perish / no one takes selfies.
Born in New York City in 1942, Harold Jaffe’s writing career spans more than 35 years. His novels and stories have been translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, Dutch, Czech, and Serbo-Croatian. He has won two NEA grants in fiction, two Fulbright fellowships, a New York CAPS grant, a California Arts Council fellowship in fiction, a San Diego fellowship (COMBO) in fiction, and three Pushcart Prizes in fiction. Jaffe teaches literature at San Diego State University (San Diego, California) and is editor of Fiction International. Jaffe’s fiction has appeared in such journals as Mississippi Review; City Lights Review; Paris Review; New Directions in Prose and Poetry; Chicago Review; Chelsea; Fiction; Central Park; Witness; Black Ice; Minnesota Review; Boundary 2; ACM; Black Warrior Review; Cream City Review; Two Girls’Review; and New Novel Review. His fictions have also been anthologized in Pushcart Prize; Best American Stories; Best of American Humor; Storming the Reality Studio; American Made; Avant Pop: Fiction for a Daydreaming Nation; After Yesterday’s Crash: The Avant-Pop Anthology; Bateria and Am Lit (Germany); Borderlands (Mexico); Praz (Italy); Positive (Japan); and elsewhere. Visit his website at haroldjaffe.wordpress.com.
Reading recommendation: Goosestep: Fictions and Docufictions by Harold Jaffe.