michael king

stack of stained pages, redacted love letters, spilling ink, pressing it into tomorrow

book club: ‘what it means when a man falls from the sky’.

The first time I laid eyes on Lesley Nneka Arimah’s collection of short stories, What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, I was at the Strand, and I was trying very hard not to buy any new books. Reading over the back cover –– a child fashioned out of hair, a world seemingly saved by a mathematical equation, an American teenager’s night out with her Nigerian cousin –– I almost failed in my mission. With my phone, I snapped a picture of the front cover, and I moved on.

Two weeks later, I learned What it Means had been chosen as the common read for FIT’s incoming first-year students. The moment copies appeared in our office, I grabbed mine and set to work reading it. Eight pages in, I was devastated. (Spoiler alert: The devastation did not stop there.)

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love letter to us.

September15_1

Red. It’s a warm night in Astoria, and we’re en route to a Korean chicken restaurant. For a Friday, the city feels a bit sleepy, lamplight pouring out of apartment windows, but we’re a walking commotion. Eight gay men, brought together only recently, already in the habit of greeting each other like family.

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wednesday post: untethered.

Sunday Post rainbow

On the best days, I find the light without trying.

My hands stay gentle all on their own, for myself and for others. Everybody around me is a rich tangle of humanity, a cocktail of hopes and fears and breaking and trying again, and I’m no exception. I’m ready to endeavor, and every direction strikes me as right, and stories unfurl themselves at my feet. I may not have everything figured out, but something beckons me to believe I’m well on my way.

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red and blue.

sunny day and i’m stealing glances of
you through rose-colored glasses,
winds billow around us, earth
stretches, makes way for hope in
green threads, everything coming to
life again for the sake of the living, but
none of it moreso than the tentative
stretching of the heart that’s
shed stitches

here in the wild city i
once believed a faraway dream, two
men who were once boys
quietly coaching their heartbeats to
want differently, at least to desire
behind bars,  here now
wanting, hoping, reaching,
breathing honest air, we
get to be here, now, in the
midst of everything

poetry

adi.

she is the surface of water, devoted
to stillness even in the
company of thunderclaps, she
is the way light and color
spill into each other, mesmerizing
cacophony of silence

she is the sound of
needle against vinyl, a half-second
before the music pours in, the
way we all hold our breath
before the melody rescues
the room

she is belief splashed
against the concrete slabs,
art for the sake of survival, love
burrowing its way through
cracks in the sidewalk,
hope defiant, the gentle
exhale of arriving
and unfurling

poetry

book club: ‘a little life’.

‘I have a book for you,’ a friend told me, ‘but it will very likely break your heart.’

I took him at his word, tracking it down immediately –– A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara –– and setting it in my Amazon cart. ‘I’ll get to it,’ I promised, ‘when I’ve got time to have my heart broken.’

I was, at the time, poised to close my second chapter in Muncie, facing my own series of heartbreaking goodbyes. I would move home, savor a few fleeting weeks in the warmth of my family, and then move my life to New York. The months would scuttle by underfoot, my legs stretching to keep pace, and I would all but forget A Little Life.

Then, one afternoon, I reviewed my Amazon cart and found it there, nestled between a piece of wall art (Indiana, by county) and a pair of happy socks. Feeling ready, I clicked it into existence, unboxing it a few days later, beginning.

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monday post: letting wounds.

Sunday Post Red

Happen

I was eleven the first time I figured out I’d made a habit out of holding my breath.

It was a muggy June afternoon, smacked in the middle of a week at camp, and I was on a hike with about six other boys my age. We came to a river, and they all broke into motion, water parting and spilling against their reckless limbs. I watched them, frozen, and scanned the surface for rocks. Testing them first, I stepped slowly across, tiny ripples and silent steps.

I made it across, caught up to them once my feet found solid ground. Our entire hike followed this pattern. Later, as we sat around our bunks eating fruit snacks and granola bars, they poked fun at me. “If we didn’t take Michael with us, the hike would have been five minutes.”

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