Asha Futterman

“halloween in college” and “a few things you should know about the universe without swings” use alternate realities to reimagine the past. They both explore language and spacing to give new, radical life to situations that seem unalterable.


halloween in college

IS LIKE when i went downtown to catch the blue line         a Black woman fell on the tracks
and didn’t die          when i got to jake’s place he asked me if i was okay      i said yeah but
              he didn’t get it        she reached out her hands        no one would grab them           maybe
                            they wouldn’t touch her because she smelt       dirty or drunk   or maybe       she
looked too            black to survive another day       jake wanted to go to the movies
get high       get my mind off it       or something       but he didn't get it       the train
came three minutes later       it took me one       and a half minutes            to get her up   we all
got on anyways       no one cried

BUT ON the actual day of halloween       i decided to put my body in a room full of other
bodies       i guess it’s my fault but I was the only black girl at the party       i still
thought i looked nice       and i wanted someone to look at me      or something
when too many drunk and white bodies shoved me       i fell over      searched for an open 
fist       there wasn’t one       it’s the scariest halloween party I've ever been to
       if i had three minutes       left to spare       the music would       just   get

THE DAY after halloween   i dreamt about the woman who fell on the tracks   she turned 
       green and big   stopped the train       with her pinky       jumped       to sky
blocked       the sun       tinted the earth       green       the men

with closed fists       hid underground       and never       came   out
BACK TO the sticky frat floor       here’s how it happened       for real       i melted 
through the ground   deeper and deeper    i made it to the center of the earth    it wasn’t hot
like people say       i felt a nice breeze    met lots of    other       people       we all
said hello        and     danced and danced and dance


a few things you should know about the universe without swings

i didn't know he was dead until i checked
Facebook.       hadn't posted in a while. 

his kid said dada first
and scratched          a lot

came back to chicago
incase he need to help out or something

but he should've
just left.

2. because

the park don't have swings no more.
it's the Black kids' fault

                                they like
                                the swings too much 

and swing too high 

the university don't like 

moving targets. said it's a safety concern. 
i don't think it was. 

i haven't been home since 

the university and the ghosts decided 
they don't want me to have 

too much       fun       without them 
so, now i live. 

in a universe without swings 
       i guess you could call it parallel 

or imaginary  all i can tell you is 
that we usually lay down here 

tough  to get outta bed sometimes 
and, yeah. there are still 
                       flying things. 

Asha Futterman is a poet from Chicago. She is currently a student at Barnard College in New York studying English with a concentration in Race and Ethnic studies.