Writing Samples
Short Stories, Essays, Press Releases


October 2020 - short

I’m sober now”, the man said abruptly to the younger man seated across the aisle to his left. “Cigs 4 years, coffee four, beer 3 and smoke bout’ a lil mo’ than a month.”

Hearing words in his direction the young man lifted his head from his phone turning his look to the person sitting across the aisle. He could see in the reflection on the window behind the man there were no other passengers seated close to the two of them. Confused he adjusted his airpods deeper into each ear as if to get a better listen, turned his head to the front of the cart and then back over his shoulder in search of anyone else the words may have been meant for before looking back down at his phone. He knew the words were directed at him but he was in little mood for conversation; he was paranoid of the metro as it was and thought talking would make him breathe the virus in. Knowing he ignored the man he hoped his actions in the slightest way acknowledged the older man’s presence and in an obvious way communicated he wasn’t interested in speaking.

“I said I’m sober now and yes -- yes I was lookin at your papers there,” the older man said pointing down at the empty seat. He paused and waited for a response before he himself looked forward to the font of the cart and the back over his shoulder as the young man did. “I make 56 on December Twenty-Five, same as Jesus. Though Jesus woulda been much older now than me if he was still alive. Name is Sharp, retired constable Precinct 6, graduated Beaumont Hebert class of 83.”

Sharpe’s crystal clear dark brown eyes revealed the certain grin covered by the black mask climbing up the wide bridge of his nose. As the train made its way to wherever both of the men were going Sharpe’s slight wobble mimicked the movement of the train. The motion from his shoulders to the top of his head reminiscent of a used car salesman or the friendly wobble of a hare krishna devotee. Still, his eyes remained fixed on the side of the young man’s face as he waited for a response.

The young man looked back over at Sharpe, this time fixing his eyes directly into the brown grinning eyes seated across from him. After a short pause he pulled the headphone out of the right ear as if to make it free of obstruction, an invitation for Sharpe to speak again.

Sharpe continued to stare and said nothing, convinced a response was in reach.

Finally yielding the man removed the other headphone and softly muffled behind his mask, “I didn’t know you weren't to begin with.” The response included an invisible question mark, enough for Sharpe whose grinning eyes grew along with his rising cheeks that pushed the top of his mask further up the bridge of his nose.

“Yea, well I wasn’t but I had to tell you! Where you from?”

“Pardon Me, Everyone”
October 2019 - essay

Driving West bound opposite downtown Houston, away from Moroles’ Police Officers Memorial is a pleasant, even cinematic experience. Memorial Parkway transitions from shops and strip centers to scenic scapes as it funnels vehicles into an opening of lush green forest and trails. It’s in this section of the 1,466 acre Memorial Park, past the running trails, that Memorial Drive splits into two paths; the path to the right loops from westbound to eastbound back into the park. If timed carefully, one can follow the swell of the hill and just as the sun crests over the tops of the evergreen trees see the treetops set aglow by the Houston sun.
This is where the Cicadas sing and where I tell everyone to roll down their windows to hear their song. Unlike butterflies or moths, cicadas transform from one fully-functioning state to another in a small span of time; so much like human beings.

There is more to hear here, for beyond the cicadas is a forgotten memory. The memory of the “Mutiny of 1917”, it’s the story of the 24th Infantry stationed at Camp Logan and the tensions that existed between those citizens and White police officers.

On August 23 1917, two white police officers harass a Black civilian, dragging her out of her home and into the streets. Private Alonso Edwards of the 24th infantry intervenes and offers to take custody of the woman; but the officers beat and arrest him. Later, Edwards’ commanding officer Corporal Charles Baltimore goes to the police station. There, Baltimore is beaten, flees, is shot at, captured, beaten again and arrested. Baltimore is later released, but soldiers at the camp hear he’s been shot and killed. The news incites a group of soldiers into action and they march into Houston for lethal reciprocity. That night the city of Houston lost 4 Black soldiers, 5 White cops, and 12 White civilians. Martial law is declared in Houston and the largest court martial and murder trial in US History begins the next day. Of the 63 soldiers charged with mutiny, murder and related offenses, 54 were convicted and 13 sentenced to death. All soldiers were represented by Maj. Harry S. Grier, who taught law at the U.S. Military Academy but was not a lawyer and had no trial experience. On December 9th, 1917, the soldiers sentenced to death were taken to Camp Travis and hanged. None of the executed were afforded due process; their bodies buried in unmarked graves. Aided by the army, police and President Woodrow Wilson who signed the execution order, city leaders sealed all accounts of the event. There are no visible traces of Camp Logan, less a state issued monument.

Today, the descendants of three of the hanged men — William Nesbit, Thomas Coleman Hawkins and Jesse Ball Moore — have petitioned the U.S. government for posthumous pardons, arguing they “suffered grave injustices at the hands of the United States when they were executed by hanging after a defective trial by court-martial.” Angela Holder, Professor of History at Houston Community College and descendant of Corporal Jessie Ball Moore explains that this group is known as the “Houston 13.” During our visit she shares a photo of her Uncle Jessie whom she believes I resemble. She says, “It’s important for them to be pardoned because they didn’t get due process in the beginning. They should’ve been allowed to petition for clemency.”

Other members of the 24th infantry involved in the Mutiny are buried at College Park Memorial Cemetery on West Dallas St. The cemetery, once abandoned is now under the care of board Chairs, Randall Riepe and Professor Holder. The cemetery is regularly maintained by retired constable Anthony Smith and Pastor Robertson of the Historic Bethel Baptist Church; started by Reverend Jack Yates who is buried with his family at College Memorial Park Cemetery. Twenty yards from the state issued marker commemorating Reverend Yates is W. Dallas Street where a metro bus stop lines up center with the family’s plot.

This is the place I come to for inquiry and discovery. With back turned to the street, looking into the cemetery through the bus shelter’s acrylic shell, I imagine the lives that moved here as the wind does the trees. As I hear the cicada’s song and feel the cars whirling past, I imagine Houstonians in all their varied ways, hearing the song I hear, everyone looking into the past with the present at their backs.

Houston boasts itself as the most diverse city in America, a place for everyone. I think of the soldiers buried here from Camp Logan and the memory of one soldier greets me. The wind whispers, “Pardon Me, Everyone,” his name is Jessie Moore and his niece says that I look a lot like him.

We are, each of us, descendants of the events of 1917. I want to install a memory, born of anguish and hope. That 100 years later like the cicada, Houston has transformed from one way of being into a different form. Between the trees at College Memorial Park Memorial Cemetery, I invite Houstonians to sing the song of the “Houston 13.” “Pardon Me, Everyone,” the title of the work I am proposing seeks to unite us for the future as we pardon our ancestors on either side of history. History will teach us, if we allow it.

Written for Houston Mayor’s Office of Culutual Affairs Insta11ations Project

“There Is Enough for Everyone”
June 2019 - Press Release

HOUSTON, TX -- theythat is pleased to present a group exhibition featuring black and brown artists. “There Is Enough For Everyone” will run from June 14, 2019 - July 8, 2019 with an opening reception Second Friday, June 14 from 7-11 pm. The exhibition will also feature sculpture by Rafa Esparza and musical performance by James Tillman.

Twenty - Five artist will be featured in the show: Alexis Grey, Berlin Nicholas, Cary Fagan, Domenique Elam, Erin Carty, Fermin Antonio Topilsin, Gem Hale, Gita, Leticia Contreras, James Tillman, Jared Royal, John Duro, J. Bilhan, Malik Perilloux, Matt Manalo, Mich Stevenson, Rafa Esparza, Raven Crane, Reggie Rex, Ryan Francisco, Stephen Wilson, Sophia Anderson, Sidney Mori, Sister [Hannah Anderson] and Warren.

All of the artists' works are inspired by the reassurance that despite living in a polarizing society limiting black and brown skinned bodies, there indeed would be "enough" for them too.

The exhibition points a spotlight directly at the reality of scarcity within black and brown communities. Prodding the limitations, distribution, and access of wealth in the City of Houston and throughout the world. 25 gallery artists wish to widen the voices involved in the global conversation dealing with the scarcity and abundance of the “they”, the others, the blacks, the browns or as Frantz Fannon puts it, “The Wretched of the Earth”.

Performances Opening Night

“There Is Enough for Everyone” will run through July 8, 2019. The artist will be present at the opening reception Friday, June 14th from 7:00 - 11:00 p.m. Performances on opening night will take place from 9:00 - 10:00 p.m. The gallery will open Second Saturday, June 15 from 7:00 - 11:00 p.m. and resume gallery hours Tuesday - Saturday 10-6:00, and by appointment.

Written for Glasstire