Pages from the Book of Race, Charles Hood

Laurie Doctor, Hidden Door (writing in one of my alphabets: 1/8″ high lettering)


Pages from the Book of Race


My father’s mansion has many rooms, many locked doors. To get out, just try the knob. For you, it did not open. Sorry. Maybe next time, after we cut back the kudzu and when the moon is in a better phase. It is all explained in the Book of Race and in the Book of Race it explains how from a Spaniard and a Mestiza comes Castiza. From a Spaniard lying with Olivine, Morisca. From a Morisca and a Red Shift, an Albino. From male Albino and female, a Return Backwards. From Spaniard and a Return Backwards, a Hold Yourself in Midair. From a Catrín and an Evening Swoon, a China Doll. From a Grudge Match and Opium, sunrise. From sunrise, an inevitable explosion of noon light. From an explosion of noon light, a span of hours so blue and immaculate the Blessed Virgin will like them

on Facebook. What happened to the old hours? Nobody wants them now: hire some men standing by the parking lot of Home Depot and they will saw them up, push them through the shredder. If these houses would just hurry up and burn, think how cheerful the day would be, how much better the view, the flow of the air, the value of baby teeth sold as charms. From a tractor and a look-the-other-way, three kinds of winter kale. Somebody will need to pick it, clean it, drive it around. There is always somebody: if these ones don’t work, send away for more.

Before my father’s father, the French sold the Ojibwe guns to use only against the Iroquois and the British. In trade the wise Ojibwe sold them the women and children of their enemies, and the French said thank you and accepted them into the church of pain and loss, which is Latin for do it now because we said so. We do not mind if you live here so long as you do not speak, sing, dance, ask questions, or eat food

we have forbidden. Nod if you understand. From a guest worker and a taser, a new row of beets. Wrap them in plastic against tonight’s keening frost. From a farm bill and a microphone, culverts rinsed by moonlight. From a desert and a poison tree, a senator. From a senator and a policy, a family in a ditch, a siren, a bullet, the steaming carcass of a newly dead dog.

Charles Hood


Review by Jared Pearce

The way the final three paragraphs here pile and push each other to the dramatic conclusion is mesmerizing. The piece pulls on history and generality and pushes them into the present to indicate how little human society has moved, has really accomplished for good. While the building and release of that story is full of energy and delight here, the underlying lesson is terrifying—which also adds to the energy and delight, in the mixed-up way humans can enjoy.

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