Gregory knows the federal government is behind the emasculation of black men across America. "I am not a fool," he says. John, on the other hand, is a clown. He tells me so. "I am a clown," he says, and rolls his eyes and pouts his lips. Then he dances on crazy legs up to Gregory, who bats him down. "The privilege of the oppressor," Gregory says, "is ignorance of his position."

Moments later I am alone. Outside the window there is a housing project lit up like a birthday cake beneath the sky. Outside the window there is not: birds, gunfire, roses, traffic, angels, gold. Not from where I am sitting. Nor can I see Gregory driving the labyrinth of streets back to his home, shouting at cops through closed windows; nor can I see John, who marches his sad clown gait through fences of Forest Hill Gardens and into the arms of his wife. "She is not white, she is Asian," he announced earlier. Then several minutes later: "We don't have sex much, anymore." Though I cannot see John I close my eyes and feel him lost in those luxurious gardens; I can see feel him lope by the tree whose fruit is the knowledge of good and evil, whose knowledge is Self, and I can feel his hunger and his denial too. Meanwhile Gregory is pulled over by two undercover detectives at the dark corner around the block from his house; he honked when they ran a light so they threw the siren on the roof and are now giving him choices: submit or die. It is no choice. He dies either way.

He dies everyday. So do I, and John, and the women I have not yet loved, and the birds that are not outside the window, and the roses, and the stars in the sky. Only the angels stay the same, perfect and sexless, and they are watching us, waiting for the time they get to say Too soon! Too soon! before they flap their wings and turn away.


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