Jamal Michel: A Mosque Recently Burned
Annie Spratt

Annie Spratt


They stand shoulder to shoulder,
so I raise my hand, and the other
gives me a nod as if to say,
“Go ahead,”
and I do.

And I ask,
“Sir, there was a mosque
recently burned to the ground,
in America.

Hate speech has been painted,
like murals,
on the walls of
other houses of worship for
Muslim Americans.

My cousins are afraid to
keep their beards.

Since the start of your run
for the position you now hold,
Anti-Muslim sentiments
have tripled
(in my mind, I hear it echoed,
the country.

What do you plan to do
about the division?”
He pauses, looks not
in my eyes, but at my beard,
trying to listen to the remnants
of my question for an
accent of some kind, and scans
my false countenance,
and says,


A Kind of Prison, But Not, They Say

They split us into two rows. 
On the one hand stand those
meeting the "creation and
endowment" criterion. 
And on the other, we are
measured, too wide a nose
or too loud our speech,
and so we are told to stand
to the side.

We grow tired of waiting in
line, and so we take the seeds
of what little we ate,
we take those seeds to the ground,
and watch the ground sprout up

And they'll certainly drive
concrete mixers to
the edges, to the margins,
to the places where they
think the sun never shines,
and dump mounds of that
cement, layered thick atop
the seeds they forgot always
grew through the cracks.

Jamal Michel received his BA in Literature from Florida International University in Miami, Florida and his master's in teaching English Literature from Duke University. His mother was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and his father, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jamal's work focuses on race relations, identity, and the surreal. His ambitions were to remain in academia, but after several revelations (and encouragement from the heroes in his life), he decided to stick with creative writing unabashedly.

He currently teaches English at Northern High School in Durham, North Carolina, and is building his resume to pursue an MFA in creative writing in New York. His work has been published in Forge Journal, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and upcoming issues of 805 Lit+Art, Mortar Magazine, and Linden Avenue Journal.He's also had articles published in The Miami Herald, The News & Observer, and The Chronicle.