ChickenBones Short Stories

ChickenBones Short Stories


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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ChickenBones Short Stories




They clashed. She with her knee length H&M designer suits, suede pumps, Gucci bags and him with his biker clothes; body-length black leather coats, spiked bracelets, faded jeans, laced boots and tattoos. She alternated between driving a small black Golf and the public transit while he rode a huge sparkling Harley Davidson motorcycle and took public transit once in a while. In fact it had been on the Bathurst Streetcar where they had met; one of those few times when she took the Bathurst Street route. Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, FORBIDDEN FRUIT

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Long before the cars arrived, a cloud of brown dust would rise in the distance from the dry gravel road to announce the ball players. Later cars with whole families, teenagers, and people from the church down the road would park along the edges of the field, straddling the narrow road. Latecomers would block the driveway of the store and have to be asked to move their cars in order to provide turn around space. But that was Walter’s job. Brenda C. Wilson, Always on Sunday

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The Land of Saints

Short Story by Onyeka Nwelue

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Afadina Dotse staggered out of Vodunon Axuadegbe’s shrine towards his BMW 525i car, mumbling “I should’ve left them alone.” A medium-built customs clearance agent with close-cropped hair, a thick moustache, and wearing a rich lace dress, Afadina sagged against the car door. Akoli Penoukou, Into His Arms

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It was 1:30 in the morning. Lucinda was half a jigger away from inebriated as she held a double shot of Seagram’s and 7up poised before her glossy, hot pink painted lips. Precisely at that moment, Lucinda made up her mind “since I’m going to die eventually, I might as well live tonight” which meant she was not going home alone tonight. In fact, she wasn’t going home at all, at least not to her own home. Kalamu ya Salaam, Forty-Five Is Not So Old 

The iron bars closed shut behind me. The black man sat on the edge of the cot, his elbows on his knees, his forehead in the palms of his hands. He did not look up until I spoke. I was in suit and tie. He thought me at first to be a lawyer, a white man.

Rudolph Lewis,

The Confessions of Walter Cotton

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It’s divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] – 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] – 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Akoli Penoukou

     The Ancestors Are Not Really Dead 

     Into His Arms

     Love One Another

     Out of the Clouds


      Deng and Alek

Betty Wamalwa Muragori

     Blue Eyed Dolls in Africa


Brenda C. Wilson

     Always on Sunday


Jane Musoke-Nteyafas

     Forbidden Fruit


Jerhretta Dafina Suite

     Charm School  


Jessie Calliste

     A Hurricane for Irene 


Kalamu ya Salaam  Feminist Erotica  Do Right Women 

     Ain’t Going Back No More (new)

     Alabama (new)

    And Then They Laughed (new)

     Another Duke Ellington Story  

     Buddy Bolden

     Clifford Brown: You Get Used to It  (new)

     Could You Wear My Eyes 

     Forty-Five Is Not So Old 

     I Sing Because…


     Raoul’s Silver Song

     Where Do Dreams Come From 


Keenan Norris 

     fresno gone


Michael A. Gonzales

    Boogie Down Inferno

   Slow Down Heart


Onyeka Nwelue

     The Land of Saints

     The Train Journey

     A Tree Was Once an Embryo


Roy L. Pickering, Jr. 

     First day on the Job 



Rudolph Lewis

     Black Mama, White Son

                          A Response to “Black Mama, White Son” by Lewis Lawson

     The Confessions of Walter Cotton  

     Conjuring & Doctoring

     Father Son and Mary  

     Isaac in Heaven: An Interview

     Tale for Sam Williams Dwarf’s Lament 

     TeeJay’s Song: Shadows at Midnight 

Stoyan Valev

Dont Kill Mother! 

June, The Colonel’s Youngest Daughter   

The Wondrous Wolf

Uche Nworah   

     The Bloody Machete

     Chasing the Dream


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Responses to Feminism, Black Erotica, & Revolutionary Love

Water Street (novel excerpt)

Women We Hate

created 5 May 2007


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“Damn Walter,” she swore under her breath. “Already let in every damn fly in Mississippi before I get one customer.” The sound of the slamming door set the flies off again in a steady swarm across the kitchen. Through the door, she saw Walter unloading the last of the beer with his round body moving slowly in the heat. Looks like next summer we’re going to need to hire some help, she thought.

Folks who didn’t even like baseball came to Pooles’ to buy fish, fresh fried whiting, caught in the Luxapalila River. She battered it in cornmeal, the yellow kind with just a little flour and deep fried it in plain old shortening. There was no secret to her cooking except for the little Cajun seasoning she added. She’d learned that years ago down in New Orleans. All kind of folks doing anything. She closed her eyes and could almost smell the crawfish cooking, the jazz playing in the street and feel the steamy, sticky heat on the waterfront.

“Oh, to be young agin’ in New Orleans,” she said as she opened her eyes.

“What ‘cha say there dear?” asked Walter as he brought in a tray full of bread.  Always on Sunday

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So he didn’t see the wrinkles around his granny’s eyes, he didn’t hear the weariness in her voice. Instead, he explored the house: its construction was that of a wooden snake, its head wide and crowded, its body a tortuous little tunnel of smaller pores and cuticles open and closed, locked and unlocked: these rooms were the site of his exploration. Some rooms were too uninviting even for his curious mind. A makeshift tool shed that he was afraid to step into for fear that he would bump into something and his gramps’s vast store of tools and supplies would come raining down on his little forehead—aside from the physical pain, how would he explain it when they heard the crash and came running?

There was a room across the way from the tool shed that was equally ominous, though he chanced entrance here: the room had no lights so far as he could see and he had to stumble around inside it to find its treasures. Old dismantled rifles, a baseball bat with an incomprehensible signature scrawled across it, black mote-crusted books that looked too ugly to open; magazines with naked women splayed in indecorous postures. Then, the grandparents’ room: a low bed and bedstand; a picture above the bedstand of them looking fine on their wedding day; a stained and tattered Bible opened to its first page where birth and death dates of Freemans unfamiliar to his eyes were scrawled one after the next, 1829-1857, 1863-1900, and so on. But the names were foreign to him. He felt that the dates meant more than the numbers and names that composed them, that the numbers and names were the vestiges of some older truth unknowable to him. fresno gone Kevin Norris

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Points to Paradise

(Or African Immigrants Journey to Spain)

By Akoli Penoukou

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Bill Moyers Interviews Douglass A. Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name:

 The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008)

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories—Vivid images of African life and familiar snippets of expatriate life infuse this debut collection by a Ghana-born writer and musician. On the fictional Zongo Street in Accra, young children gather around their grandmother to hear a creation story from “the time of our ancestors’ ancestors’ ancestors” in “The Story of Day and Night.” In “Mallam Sille,” a weak, 46-year-old virgin tea seller finds soulful strength in marriage to a dominant village woman. Other stories take place in and around New York City, depicting immigrants struggling with American culture and values. A Ghanaian caregiver vows not to “grow old in this country” in “Live-In,” while in “The True Aryan,” an African musician and an Armenian cabbie competitively compare tragic cultural histories on the ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, achieving humanist understanding as they reach Park Slope: “I looked into his eyes, and with a sudden deep respect said to the man, ‘I’ll take your pain, too.’ ” Several stories close in a similarly magical, almost folkloric epiphany, as when sleep becomes an attempt “to bring calm to the pulsing heart of Man” in “The Manhood Test.” Ali speaks melodiously but not always provocatively in these tales of transition and emigration. —Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 13 October 2007 





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