Orange man comes in dreams. In one, he emerges from the woods, a wolf. In others, he takes the form of Nazis. Russians. He always threatens violence, though it never manifests, orange man lording power over dreaming consciousness.
I wish I could discard the dreams. How can I? I’m a swarthy man with a funny name. Not American enough, according to Comrade Cheeto. A name that holds the weight of exotic scariness.
I imagine dreams without the orange man. Tender slumber, dreaming of beauty. Love.
Nightmares continue. I try to avert sleep. Avoid news.
That doesn’t work.
I surrender to weariness.
What To The Swarthy Man Is The Fourth of July?
I’m a swarthy man. I don’t want to celebrate the Fourth.
My plan: Ignore Souza marches, trucks with flags. Jingoism wrapped in pomp.
Walking down streets, I feel a self-awareness of my swarthiness, in a nation that’s demanding whiteness. Not just any whiteness, but pure vanilla, with Nordic blonde hair.
I’m tired of pronouncing my name, don’t know when curiosity conceals revulsion. Don’t know who might hurt me.
A part of me wants to be part of the flag-waving and barbeques. To mingle, tethered by commonness. Welcome.
I hope the fever subsides.
Wish in one hand, shit in the other.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Yash has also had work nominated for The Best Small Fictions. Yash’s stories are forthcoming or have been published in Café Lit, Literally Stories, (mac) ro (mic), and Ariel Chart, among others.