MESSAGES FOR

Back in 2003, a couple years after B.Michael’s passing, I sketched an idea in a journal for his AIDS quilt. How could a 3’ x 6’ panel emblazon his name and capture his essence? I thought about his love for maps-atlases-globes, and how he shared this passion especially with the young people in his classrooms and in his life. He would extol the Mapparium in Boston, one of his all-time favorite destinations.

I envisioned the quilt as a world map, which indicated all the places he was able to visit. I thought he would appreciate the Pacific-centered Peters Equal Area Map, an atypical perspective for those of us in the Western Hemisphere. The continents would be a solid earthy orange color against a mosaic of greens and blues — teal was his favorite color — to somehow create a shimmering sunlight-on-the-water effect since AIDS panels are often seen from a distance … Continue Reading

Robert Penn - Meeting in Clouds, thinking ∞G might reach you
Robert Penn – Meeting in Clouds, thinking ∞G might reach you

I’m sure you’ll want to know what children and “the children” are doing these days because that would make you a more effective teacher and community organizer.

Rhea Ummi Modeste - With Whom Will I Teach The Children?
Rhea Ummi Modeste – With Whom Will I Teach The Children?

I understand why you can’t come back/shouldn’t come back/mustn’t come back . . . But your empty chair, clean desk, quiet phone make my heart ache.

Bil Wright - THAT'S WHAT I BEEN MISSING BABY
Bil Wright – THAT’S WHAT I BEEN MISSING BABY

I knew when I thought it might be a short piece that you might say, “I don’t do no short pieces” . . . .

Jacquie Bishop - 58 Minutes
Jacquie Bishop – 58 Minutes

I arrive early and take a seat on the bench that overlooks the East River — on the Brooklyn side, the only concession you would make in order for us to meet.

Susan Raffo - Love and marriage, not the same thing
Susan Raffo – Love and marriage, not the same thing

You’ve missed this moment when love turned from something generative and unapologetic, the radical compost of having to find it deep within ourselves to fierce-claim our love of another person, to something that has the necessary legal support needed to make its revolutionary nuances disappear. I am talking about marriage.

Alexander J. Alvarez - Crying
Alexander J. Alvarez – Crying

What are we truly here for? We work / we create / we bond / we multiply / we survive . . .

Allen Luther Wright - Hey Bert
Allen Luther Wright – Hey Bert

I moved back to New York. Nine years in Chicago – impatient, detached, restless, the dutiful son to his dead parents, obligated, filling the gaps with too many handsome distractions (my expiration dates?) – only to finally accept, you really can’t go home again. At least, I couldn’t. But, can you go back to the home you left home for?

Paula Santos - Tribute To B.Michael (aka Bert) Hunter
Paula Santos – Tribute To B.Michael (aka Bert) Hunter

Since you passed away in 2001, you missed the emergence of the transgender community becoming more visible within the LGBT and mainstream communities.

Kevin McGruder - The Doors that Many Friends Opened Long Ago
Kevin McGruder – The Doors that Many Friends Opened Long Ago

It really is hard to believe that almost seventeen years have passed since you left us. Since you’ve asked: “What I miss?” I’ll give you an update on some of the changes that have happened in Harlem, and the ups and downs of our writing collective, Other Countries.

Chris Paige - I Missed You
Chris Paige – I Missed You

More than these bodies
Connects us
Words seem inadequate
To capture
What is
Between us

Colin Robinson - We Are Worth Remembering
Colin Robinson – We Are Worth Remembering

“I think all our storytelling is a fiction in some way, even when it’s history. It’s how we create significance and meaning that is unique and is different from others’ stories. And I realize how much the histories that we think we remember are subject to our work as practitioners of fiction.”

Adunni Hall-Modeste & Rhea Ummi Modeste - Dear BNoSpace/Uncle Michael
Adunni Hall-Modeste & Rhea Ummi Modeste – Dear BNoSpace/Uncle Michael

I danced all through college (and high school, of course) where I joined Onyx Dance Troupe. I became secretary sophomore year and by senior year I was president! A lot of work but definitely worth all the stress it came with at times. I would 100% do it again!

Sheilah Mabry - The Presence(ing) of My Fears: Art Unmasking Strength and Possibility
Sheilah Mabry – The Presence(ing) of My Fears: Art Unmasking Strength and Possibility

“When I first started with my art, I had to start and finish pieces. But I’m learning how to leave a piece alone, when it can’t be completed yet, and I think that’s special. And also the expression, using art to deal with what’s good and what’s challenging and also to deal with passion. There’s something about the ways that my art goes through my body, in all parts of my body . . . .”

Louise Dunlap - Healing Our Founding Pandemic
Louise Dunlap – Healing Our Founding Pandemic

As virus panic mounted in the United States, I was already researching the psychic and actual sickness that came with the Mayflower four hundred years ago. Appalled to find myself descended from six of its passengers in a year when big celebrations were planned, I wanted Americans to see our history through the lens of disease. A full ninety percent of the Indigenous Wampanoag people had died from European illnesses even before the ship landed—and our founders themselves faced a deadly mortality crisis. I also knew that healing was possible, even now. Then one morning it became a story.