“The first revolution is when you change your mind
about how you look at things,
and see there might be another way to look at it
that you have not been shown."
Gil Scott-Heron 1970
How far can 99 words take you? Can they evoke a stumble, a stinging taste, a trace of light, a confession, a question, or a life? Here are 99 moments, each rearranged into 99 words. These verses survive within me; they stick between my vertebrae and veins, they tie my guts together tight, but leave my belly wide and hollow. They make my fingers, feet, and eyes reach out farther than before.
99 words is short, not simple. Brevity tempts us to rush, but ambiguity will challenge you to slow, as it did me while I was writing. Take a minute, view it twice, and give it time to set. It takes hard work to read, to cock your head and scrunch your eyes, to rest with curiosity and without knowing. It takes hard work to listen, to not interpret what you see, to not bring it back around to expectation, but rather to find mercy.
99 scenes will tell a story, but maybe not the answer. I’ll bring you to places on these maps, I’ll share my adventures and disasters, and I’ll imagine others' tales that affected me. Each story is a brick upon a wobbly path around the world, un-mortared but interlocking, to bring you my purview. 99 words reflects the limits of my encounters—they are only mine— and so I offer 99.