After Kerry James Marshall's Invisible Man

This poem was featured in Confluence, NYU Gallatin's archive of excellent student work.

My Man, Invisible

I swear I seen you before

standin, shifty, on my block after dark

I swear I know you from somewhere inside

eyes hanging on the canvas like faraway doves

teeth like tic tacs lined up on wet cement

you sure do look like a sight for wanderin eyes

how'd you get up there, brother

crouchin in the pitch black

still tryna show off the bits of you they couldn't take


This poem was featured in volume 34 of NYU's The Gallatin Review

American man

A naked man with moth wings

walks out onto a dark street

as the sky begins to weep and fade

He moves like a sluggish stain

across the black tar streets

his skin bubbling and bruised a deep violet

Thick sweat dribbles from his pores

causing this wound of a man to glow

in the sickly green light of the dying horizon

He steps over the bodies littering the street

taking shoes a shirt and a pair of slacks

as he tiptoes over their faceless corpses

Finally he stops at an empty space in the middle of the road

He grabs both of his wings in each fat hand and pulls

There is a slick pop and then the silky limbs hang oddly

Once this has been done he begins to dress

First he squeezes his legs into the neatly pressed slacks

then he laces the black tar shoes

His shirt is last

He smooths it out and holds it up under the light

It shines like teeth as the faceless corpses all smile

It slips nicely over his mangled moth wings

and he buttons it all the way up

under the glow of the retching sky

He grins and the moon falls away

but the hint of light in the near pitch black is enough to see

as the blood of his broken moth wings seeps through the skin of his shirt

Short Story

A previous version of this short story was selected by the 2016 New England Young Writers' Conference.


He always cleaned when they argued.

Even now, as she sat in her room, Kylie could hear her father washing the dishes. Her Physics homework sat abandoned on her desk, and she could only stare blankly, the white noise of rushing water overlapping with their shouting in a cacophony that overwhelmed any other thought.

Eventually, she surrendered to the anguish, pushing away from the desk. Instead of studying, she flopped heavily onto her bed, letting the tears pool in her eyes as she lay on her back, struggling for each shaky breath. A familiar tension settled over her, and she listened to the people she loved most rip each other to shreds.

Soon the water stopped, then the argument, as well, but Kylie still lay there, crying silently.


Her father’s voice startled her, disrupting the silence that had settled in the wake of the fight. The only sound she’d heard in the last hour had been the slam of her parent’s bedroom door ‐ she knew her mother was sitting alone inside.

“Yeah, Dad?” Kylie called, wiping her damp face.

Hesitant, she exited her room, making her way past the closed door, down the hall, into the living room. Pausing at the entryway, she found her father sitting in his special chair by the TV, ironing a school uniform.

“Bring me some hangers. And any clothes you want me to iron,” he instructed. He didn’t look at her as he spoke, just scowled down at the shirt he was ironing.

Kylie hmmed an affirmative and turned. She walked slowly, pausing at her parent’s door again; she wondered if her mother was crying.

“Are you doing what I asked?” her father called after her when she’d been gone for too long.

Kylie snapped back into focus, rushing obediently to her room to grab the hangers.

“You sure there’s nothing you need me to iron?” he asked once she returned with them. Perhaps there were, in fact, a pair of wrinkled pants in her drawer, but she refused to see him like this any longer. It was too much, watching him clean mindlessly while everything else was such a wreck.

“No, I’m fine.”

Kylie’s mother was different.

She waited for huge arguments to strike, and when they did, she would renovate, ranting loudly about needing to ‘throw everything away’.

Her father had long since stormed from the house, going to return the expensive necklace her parents had fought over. Part of her wished her mother could have just pretended to like it, and another part knew that wasn’t the point.

“Kylie! Come help me move this sofa,” her mother commanded from downstairs.

The girl took a moment to grumble to herself before hurrying to the living room, cautious of riling the woman up even further.

When she walked into the room, her mother was sitting on the carpet, sorting papers. Kylie watched as her mother stood from the mess of old magazines and documents, determined to move the couch to where the bookshelf used to be. The only thing that remained untouched, Kylie noticed, was her father’s old chair.

“Mom, why are you doing this?” Kylie pleaded, struggling to lift the weight.

The woman caught her daughter’s eyes, glaring.

“My house is cluttered, my mind is cluttered ‐‐ I can’t live like this.”

Kylie wasn’t sure if she was addressing the mess or the marriage.

Every once in a while, Kylie would find her clothes ironed and folded neatly in her dresser.

Sometimes, when she walked into the living room, she stood momentarily disoriented because the couch was on the left wall, not the right.

The place was always spotless.

Kylie hated it.