Off the Page: BLR@20 – Letters to Michiko

Leslie Jamison reads an excerpt from her prize-winning story “Letters to Michiko” as part of BLR’s 20th Anniversary Celebration.

The Gun Goes Off and At First No One Knows Who’s Been Hit

Someone’s died. I know this because of vague posts on Facebook. It can’t be anyone I know very well, or I’d have texts or phone calls or, well, something.


They’ve formed a barricade.

Mountain goats stand shoulder to shoulder across the narrow two-lane. They appear unbothered by the idling of my car’s engine, content to simply stand and chew dry grass sprouted between asphalt cracks.

Do I Look Sick To You? (Notes on How to Make Love to a Cancer Patient)

At first you don’t. You hold back. Finally she says, “What, you’re afraid I’ll break? You’re afraid it’s contagious?”

il Faut

Now he stares at the bag of bulbs, the naked little bodies burgeoning, begging for life in the sweet dark ground. The ground that buries.

The Tribulations of Uncle Ned

I knew years ago that the paternal gene was missing. I should not, would not, be relied on by other humans, especially small, defenseless ones

The Third Story

Paul once thought that the talent and ambition that had propelled him into graduate school as the first Negro PhD in pharmacology would keep propelling him, perhaps into a chairmanship at a prestigious Negro university. But life and history took over…


Yarrow doesn’t say much aside from being strange but that’s less him and more his parents, if he even has those. He doesn’t seem like the type to come from a womb.


God knows my father did his share of speed, but it was the smoking that finally got him.