Friday, April 2, 2021

Slickario (or, The Fashion Killer Of Cool) - Rémy Ngamije

 This is what I remember.

My uncle Rigobert, a sapeur who spends his money on the houses of style but none on the home his family lives in, is hiding out at our house, avoiding his wife and parental responsibilities. He’s a made a game out of it and sworn me to secrecy.

Mon petit, they are all after me. You must hide me.”

I tell him I know good places for him, places even my younger brother can’t find me when I hide from him.

My mother scolds Rigobert from the kitchen. He has blown his pay on some new threads. She lambasts him about there being no food in his fridge while his wardrobe bursts with Milanese and Florentine fashions.

He sighs and looks at me. “Being an older sister is to spend all of your time complaining about your younger brother,” he says. “When you’re older just let your brother be himself.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of notes as thick as rolled tobacco leaves and peels off some for me. He tells me he’s paying me to listen to his wisdom, a charity he says I’ll never come across again as long as I live. “Nowadays people pay other people to tell them their problems. What foolishness is that, eh?” I shrug, holding the money, a token of generosity I will later remember even after my mother tells me Rigobert is a liar and classic charlatan who preys on friends and family indiscriminately. My uncle rubs my head. “How old are you now, mon petit?”

“As old as your eldest, Rigo.” A pot lid’s metal ring reverberates in the kitchen.

My uncle whistles. “That old already? That’s old enough to hear the truth as Moses brought it down from Sinai.”

My mother snorts.

“Have I ever lied?” He clutches his heart, mortally hurt.

“To everyone you know, Rigo.”

“The truth is for strangers.”

“I do not want you corrupting my son.”

“Never. He is my heir.”

 “You have heirs.”

“I have children, yes, but no heirs. This is the one who must take over.”

“Take what over? You are a pauper, Rigo. Everything you have is in your dreams.”

“Which is where everything starts and everything ends. Dreams are important things.”

“My son is not your plaything.”

“I am teaching him the great game of life. He will be more powerful than me and cut them down I tell you.”

I am excited hearing about cutting. I ask him if we are playing sword games. He giggles, a strange sound from the tallest man I have ever seen. My mother laughs from in the kitchen. (She denied this many years later.)

“Ah, mon petit. I must part your intellectual waters.”


“Relax. I share nothing but wisdom with him.”

“He does not need wisdom from you.”

“Nonsense. Have you not heard of my name? I am Slickario, the Fashion Killer of Cool, the Sage of the Six Paths. I must pass on what I know.”

My mother laughs again but says nothing.

My uncle winks at me as he hides from his wife and family in our lounge. He lowers his voice, leans in close so I can smell the sharp cologne slashed on his neck. He tells me this is how you stop women and men from getting ideas about you:

“One: never keep a full fridge. An onion, a sliver of butter, the last slice of bread, a shake of milk in the carton, that’s all you need. A man with a full fridge is asking for a wife and for his friends to camp at his house. Two: do your own cooking and cleaning. Women will use these favours to trap you; and if you clean up your friends’ messes, you are just as culpable. Three: never let anyone use your bathroom. Once they shit in it, that’s the start of your problems. Four: never let anyone sleep over. When you’re done with women, make sure they leave. If they can drive, jangle their keys at them before they try to cuddle. If they don’t have a car, let them walk. Nothing like night air to clear their heads and hearts out. Whether it’s the police or military checkpoints or the Last Judgement outside, make your friends—man or woman—leave your house. If they sleep over they will think you are brother and sister and you don’t want that. Five—come here—when the time comes you must keep this hard like a handbrake. You need to be able to stop women’s world; stick this in them a couple of times and they will become soft and do anything for you, they will u-turn their lives like cars from the movies, eh. Keep this strong and your friends will respect you—the one who holds the gun is feared as much as the gun. Six is the most important one: no falling in love. Ever. Love is for fools. Do not be like your uncle, Rigo. He is a fool.”

My uncle Rigobert who calls himself Slickario—the Fashion Killer of Cool, the Sage of the Six Paths—tells me all of this with the solemnity and sincerity of a sermon. Later on, as a man, I will act on his advice. It will bring me ruin and heartache. His counsel will take me to the edge of love, friendship, family, and sense of self; it will dump me in a vast and unexplored country called loneliness. But right now I am young and he is the coolest man I have ever met.

Rémy is a Rwandan-born Namibian writer and photographer. He is the founder, chairperson, and artministrator of Doek, an independent arts organisation in Namibia supporting the literary arts. He is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Doek! Literary Magazine, Namibia’s first and only literary magazine.

His debut novel The Eternal Audience Of One is forthcoming from Scout Press (S&S). His work has appeared in The Johannesburg Review of Books, Brainwavez, American Chordata, Azure, Sultan's Seal, Columbia Journal, Lolwe, and many other places. He was shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing in 2020. He was also longlisted for the 2020 and 2021 Afritondo Short Story Prizes. In 2019 he was shortlisted for Best Original Fiction by Stack Magazines. More of his writing can be read on his website:

Growing Pains - Janae Newsom

Loving you is like choking on air
Lungs collapsing,
heart pumping
Heart thumping
Heart breaking,
a numb awakening
A nagging orgasm
A Tear's kiss to the cheek
Your love makes the strong feel weak Feel small,
feel last,
feel least
Everyday begins again,
the pain just rolls over
And that damn shoulder can't get no colder. It's like a bleeding heart,
and a rusted shackle
It's like a thief of goodness,
disguised as Robin hood.
But the caveat here is that
Your love aint even yours at all
It's mine.
I made it mine,
I took it and carried it,
and fed it like my children
Like my best day,
I thought that you were my best day I counted my eggs before they hatched No returns on my investment,
just I O Us
Well this time I owe you,
and by you I mean me
I owe me, time
I owe me, grief
And no I can't keep it in. I physically cannot. My aching spills out from under my eye lids I owe me, laughter
and love
and joy
and more pain
cause now I've learned what pain is A sick self affliction.
Everytime I break
nothing ever fits the same
Had to learn that doing the same shit
Really does make you insane
So now my storms are just rain
Now that shackles a broken chain
Now I'm bruised and beaten from the journey it took to find my soul
but you know they say pretty hurts
And so, if this is the pain it took to grow
I hope it stops with my babies
These generational woes
So if ever somebody tries to tell them what love is, I pray that they'll look boldly in the mirror and say
I. Already. Know.

Janae Newsom is a writer, mother, and educator from East Oakland California. She uses writing to share about the beauty of her existence as a black woman from Oakland. Much of her writing attempts to dismantle the stereotypes placed on black girls from the hood, through telling their stories as authentic to the truth of their complex lived experiences as possible. She is a graduating MFA candidate in Creative Writing- Fiction at Mills College, and is currently working on her first Novel.

(Black) LA Woman - Mimi Tempestt


what the white folk rave

as the best poet out



is a Black magician’s puppet

fire dancing

at the whisky a go-go

on sunset

little do they know

he still ain’t get it right

about me

“me” was

woman almost

on a decent LA day

never cared too much

for the construct

i cook up courage in cauldrons

considering against the cast iron

on my grandmother’s stove

which slaved

sizzled the breast


chicken to cry

unsatisfied in her husband’s belly

at a young age

my hormonal capacity

took no stock

in the conditioning


her kitchen

on my 29th birthday, i confessed

the indignation


my conception

i didn’t ask to be


my father giggled at the possibility

my mother stared blankly at her blessing

a loved mistake

i didn’t ask to be placed in this body as time capsule

my mother’s throat cleared “too late”

to discover you are

 a transcendental

accident manifested

through light speed


what the soul’s been yearning for millennia is the hardest throat slicing pill to swallow

my face blossomed in a bitter womb

my two eyes had to be pretty

to balance out

the rape renditions

that come spiraling




my third one

got gouged


to satisfy

a taste for flesh

on the oppressor’s tongue

 the oppressor’s tongue got a sharpened fork for teeth

 the oppressor’s tongue got a taste for melanated

(i mean marinated)


 the oppressor’s tongue

travels up my spine

makes me arch

 against the sensation

 until my world is down

on all fours

i ain’t got time

 for the business


my lady-like tendencies

i am approximately woman


my ego decided: i guess

my ego desires


in repetitive rejections


the pink bow

placed on my head at birth

my ego said

“this pussy is just an instrument you use

to duplicate the nonsense

of your father’s makeshift manhood”

my ego knows

it never needed teeth

to make nice

with this universe’s chaos

my ego said “ask about me”

“me” was

Black always



//invisible in a hollywood lens

the intersection makes

 the contradiction



my ego will two-step

and jiggy against

all their tap dancing pens

write about “me”


my ego’s smile got c(r)opped


on the front steps


the academy

i didn’t ask to be here

my ego cried

“all the this white man’s theory gon’ make a better nigger out of me”

fuck it.

i’ll blame that too

 on my inner child

in the confines


his bed

is where i][am “made”


he needed

all few

hundred pounds




bouncing on top


his small


to “make”

“him” cum

afterwards he had a tendency

to reminisce about

his grandmother

this is where our inner children often played

she was sweet//midwestern

 i am neither

he said he had

a thing

for LA women

me too

he said they don’t



like “me”

anywhere else

this one ain’t get it right about me either

my hair

always burning

fire dancing

against their fever


contended with

their tendencies

to shape me lady-like

like lady i am approximately woman today

i am


Mimi Tempestt is a multidisciplinary artist and poet. She is a daughter of California, being born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in the bay area. She is a graduate of Mills College with a MA in Literature. Her debut collection of poems, The Monumental Misrememberings, is forthcoming with Co-Conspirator Press in November. She’s currently a creative fellow at The Ruby in San Francisco and was recently selected for participation in Lambda Literary's Writer’s Retreat of emerging LGBTQ voices for poetry in 2021.