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Michelle M Nov 2020
Sometimes I miss Baltimore,
as it was,
in this ragged snapshot from 1999.
Smoky bars, diffuse light,
the dusky anonymity of proto-digital consciousness,
A city teeming with its own subversive imagination.

Palpable in the night air,
the questionable intentions of the still willfully living,
A dim seediness skulking in the corners and alleyways,
bearing impartial witness to the transgressions of all those nights, preordained to bleed into mornings,

A time,
A town,
that was fearless,
rogue in the absolute saturation of its moments,
Shimmering in the mists like slick cobblestone,
like points of light upon dark water,
the winking reflections of a neon harbor,
paused somewhere between future and past,
A bastion of the new prehistory.

I miss Baltimore,
covert and alive,
In its hour of renegade persuasion,
however quaint or illusory,
its voice was distinct,
in the chatter of the underground.

There was a relevance to the present then,
a sanctity in the moment.
There were questions left unanswered.
There was intimacy in a shared secret.
Misfits were permitted to revel.

I miss that Baltimore most,
the one that curated me,
called me out of myself.
With a history cemented in the arcane,
its raven-dark undercurrent
like smooth cognac softening the edges,
delicate as roses,
giving the rage a moment's pause,

Giving human momentum a breath,
to observe and retain the poignancy,
of  itself,
In all its uneasy coexistence,

as it once was,
steeped in the tradition of the unsung,
like an archeological dig,
On the surface,
merely crumbling dirt,
and broken things.
but  deeper,
an uncanny relic of rich insights,
and richer delights.

But one had to know where to look,
and one had to know how to let it take lead.
And one could never be too scrupulous,
or scrutinous.
The Carnival of Dissonance,
was not for the uninitiated,
Anjana Rao May 2020
I tell myself,
no more.
I will not see you again,
I am done, done, done.

I find myself driving to you
that same night
with the flimsiest excuse.

you are an ex
I can't quite get over.

I keep remembering
the good times,
and I can't let you go.

We say,
let's be friends,

when we see each other
we never say anything

I say
no more,
but I keep coming back to you,
and you,

these days,
you're indifferent.

We have one night stands
where no one comes
and I slink away early in the morning.

There is no coffee,
no breakfast,
no romance,
no anything at all.

we're a habit
I don't know how to break.

I don't know
what I want from you,
what I need from you,
I just know
I won't get it.

I keep coming back,
keep hoping
one day you'll feel like home.

But Baltimore,
I know better,
and anyway,
don't you know?

can't be friends.
Written March 4, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
this is a love poem.

this is a break up poem.

I remember
when I first
fell in love with you.

It was 2012
I wandered around the city
taking ****** pictures of street art.
Took free public transit.
Spent the afternoon
at the old, old red Emma's
back when it wasn't bougie.

I knew what you were
but I couldn't help it,
I fell in love.

I remember courting you,
thinking maybe I could call you

Greatest City in America
run down
all at once.

In 2014
you held me
through my numbed out days,
through my drunken nights.

with your ****** transportation
that might or might not arrive.

with your gentrified Hampden
where I once heard a white man say he felt
"So safe."

with your burnt out building I climbed
with a girl
who'd one day leave me behind.

with your street cats,
street rats.

with the Royal Farms
that sold cheap Mikes Hards.

I could barely love myself,
I still loved you.

I need you to know
that I will always care for you,
but somewhere along the way
something broke in me.

you held me then,
still hold me even now,
but it's getting time
for me to move on.

It's not you,
it's me.

My restlessness,
my ungratefulness,
of what you've done for me.
My inability to value
potential stability,
potential community.

It's not me,
it's you.

It's all the same with you,
same scene,
same bars,
same parties.

I love you,
I really do.

I'm sorry,
but we need to take a break


Need to start seeing
other people.

Don't cry,
it's better this way.

And besides,
you're not,
could never truly be

this is a love poem.

this is a break up poem.

maybe one day
when the dust settles
we can be friends.

But for now,
I need to leave.

I love you.

Good bye.
Written February 4, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
I'm near the door
of this queer party
scanning the stream of people
coming in.

For who?

For you.

Who else?


And then
there you are,

and my heart
does some kind of flip
even tho
I swear to myself
I'm over you.

I mean
I don't even think of you
that often but

there you are
and I can't help
for something
that'll never happen.

Tell myself
over and over and over
that I'm with someone better for me,

but she's white,
and never goes out,
and safe,
and you -

you're you.

And we talk,
tease each other,
saying nothing

And it's okay.
And it's not.

And later in the night
when you tell me
about what's happening at Otto
after this event
I hightail it there,

of course I do,

hoping, hoping, hoping...

And even now,
I sit in this coffee shop
waiting to go to an event
you said you'd be at and


I'd give anything
to be different,

to not want
what I can't have.

I'd give anything
to be more
than a moth
to a flame

to be satisfied
with what I've got,

but I can't help it.

I want
forest fire love.

Give me
forest fire love.

I want to be
burned alive.
Written February 9, 2020
DearNaz Aug 2016
Dear homeless man on the side of the street
Begging for a dollar, a smile, or a treat
I’m sorry I looked away
I’m sorry I pretended like I didn’t see you
I need to shelter myself from the truth
I want to shelter myself from you
See I can never be a shelter to you
I could tell you there is rest
In the shelter of the Most High
I just assumed you’re probably high
I can’t handle the guilt of greed
So I blame you for panhandling
Now please let me drive by
Before I’m caught up in a drive-by

Dear homeless man on the side of the street
Begging for a dollar, a smile, or a treat
I’m sorry I looked away
I’m sorry I pretended like I didn’t see you
You’re in my blind spot
I cannot see you
If I pull up my blinds
Then I might spot you
So I stay in my dark room
Where I picture a world
Captured in imagination
And developed in reality
I stay in my dark room
I time travel with a flashback
I picture the world in just white
I picture the world in just black
So I expose the injustice
Until it’s black and white
Now I see the picture right
The Calm Jul 2016
This is a call

A wake up call

As the winds of America’s past time pass over the embers of racial distress

Soon their will be a flame

There was riotting in the 60′s and who is say that today it won’t be the same

The ****** memories of America’s past still brings fear

The fire of racial inequality builds and smoke fills the air

Innocent men getting shot down in the street but who really cares?

As a mother’s heart bursts in sadness as she’s reduced to tears

Hands up,don’t shoot!

They think all we do is ****** and loot

But who am I to refute?

Maybe they know who I am and feel my pain? Or maybe I’m saying #BlacklivesMatter all in vain

All in vein cause this pain runs deep

Everytime I see another mother weep

Another black life lost, who will pay the cost? Who will sanctify the souls? And take burning coals to holes where these bodies lay,

Like the one that holds Freddie grey,

Another black man in Baltimore just trying to survive another day, until his life got taken away,

tell me,what more am I to say ,

Hands up don’t shoot

Or how about I can’t breathe!

Please listen and take heed

Systematic racism is trying to destroy the black man’s seed

And what are we supposed to do? Get down on our knees? Cry and plead?

No, what we must we do is Rise up and lead,

That’s what our communities need

That’s what our communities need because we have black daughters, black sons

Black sons whose light won’t get to shine, won’t get to shine because of the barrel of *****’s gun

Oh *****, you wise old soul, you put a badge on henchmen and told them to take control

Told them to go on patrol, and shoot to ****, the young, the old

And you don’t gotta hide, you got the media on your side,

pumping lie after lie, making mockery of every mother’s cry

And that’s why I, stand here with my fist in the air

Staring right at you, ready to lay my life down with no fear

Because like Malcolm, like Martin I’m just another black man working to free the slaves,

Working tirelessly to break down this crooked system you paved

So with the roar of a lion I shout!

This is not a test, this is a call

A call to the people,

Not just a call but an unprecedented sequel

A call to the world to look at every man as equal

And hopefully this equality can take my people out of poverty

Open up blinded eyes so that our white counterparts can see

And for my young brothers to see that there’s no merit in gold chains with no brains

***** still in charge cause he still holds the reigns

Some of our young men got no sense cause they got no change

No leaders to look up to

No fathers to look up to

Just mothers to run to, and to those mothers I say thank you

But to the black men where are you?

I know ***** separated us from our families

but the return of the black man must come quick

Cause extinction is on the verge, and I don’t wanna go back to stones and sticks

Back to lifting bricks, or selling bricks, or flipping bricks just trying to make it

But I look at the state of my people and I can’t take it

So I can’t fake it, cause I feel it

Within me, deep in my soul

So here I am standing, here I am, bold!

No shackles on me, I am going to stay free

And Create a legacy

where I can sit back and watch

My Children be free

M Wheeler
This piece is ongoing. The war against black people in America has not ended, and so as I feel the pains, I will translate them into words and revise this piece.
Tuana Feb 2016
A single day contained so many Journeys and the Stories
as if they were meant to meet.

And Baltimore,
you were the humble host
of all the Reunions.

Filling our stomachs and the time apart
Memories came to life and we smiled — Together

Talking to random seagulls between our conversations
I found a feather given by a fearsome friend

Learning how to pronounce a foreign word— Affogato
I imagined this is how life should taste

Making fun of the sushi places hidden in the brick walls
My heart secretly traveled back home

Discovering the colorful lamps
I thanked for kindnesses sent from different directions

All the journeys took us back to the 5th grade,
picking up our favorites at a candy shop
— and I promised never to follow any strangers!

You’ve taught me how it feels to grow up.
not being somebody else,
but sowing seeds in our moments,
good days and bad days,
— just like we gave a name and fell in Love
with every single corner of the Town.

Let’s do it again.
my dog stops to mark
each abandoned Christmas tree
that has found its grave
on the sidewalk of Keswick Road

Tonight I am walking in boots with laces
instead of a Velcro post-surgery shoe
Each step echoes an ache
that cannot ever fully heal

Half of the porches in Baltimore
are adorned with holiday lights
others with pumpkins, forgotten

The fruit bowl in my kitchen still holds
fruit given months ago by a sympathetic neighbor
Some spots on the apples from Ari
are finally becoming
soft and brown – I eat around the rot

My torso and arms are strewn
with black and blue kisses,
the result of weeks on crutches
My bruised ribs confess:
the real hurt was under here

Tonight I am walking
with a swollen foot, a swollen heart
but no longer broken
Farosty Aug 2015
Won’t the real Charlie please stand up
And put one of those pencils in each hand up

Je suis Charlie too, but Charlie bit me
And for that they rip me
They want to get rid of me

But I’m not them
And they’re not us
But we’re all one
So don’t count up

Put those hands down
We don’t need to see another case of Michael Brown
Yes, protest
But protest with peace
And take the jobs of those you wish you could leash

Give emotions rest
Love is the best defense
Glottonous May 2015
From one end of a sea, I waved to you
And carried it with me out to purlieu.
Over desertous thirst. It sank me through
A mermaid's con: rehearsed to drown on cue.
It reverbed off radars who threw it off course,
Who clash out; Who say our sound invokes force.
Who translate our call to a crime; (perforce);
Who trained us to fall, then harbor remorse.
I wait still in oceans for your wave back.
I wave me free from fear of dinful attack.
I got it all up here, should they lose track.
But I'm anchored still, -- slow, should you wave back.
A frustrating poem.
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