Let me state it so you get the picture clear as wind chimes in a soft breeze on a somnolent noon. Underlying my existence is a deeper intelligence that speaks to me when I am writing. My artist friends say I am an anomaly—no education, no family grounding, no proper socialization. My writing gifts seem to have come from nowhere. So maybe the deities pitied me for my lack of human support and sent the face to grant me relief. Maybe it comes to me as compensation for the constant invasion of privacy by the Orwellian judicial bureaucracy, a reaction to a life of stop-and-frisk and security screenings. I don’t know. I am certain, however, that this deeper intelligence has a face, and when I write, that face perches above my right shoulder and watches me.

—From the book The Face by Jimmy Santiago Baca, a haunting meditation, interspersed with beautiful poems. Read more fiction.


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