Momentum: an ode to Baltimore


I see a Baltimore who mines her gold
from the shadows behind abandoned houses.
I see a city of parks
with tree roots reaching deep beneath surfaces
tapping hidden sources
and joining the disconnected
with living bonds
visible even to eyes grown weary of witnessing.

I see neighborhoods of parades
of dancing and singing
lighting sacred fires
standing arm in arm in solidarity
kneeling down on cracked pavement to pray
to ask blessings and invoke peace
to appeal to the wisdom of the ancestors
the vision of the young.

I see cultures clashing
hearts heavy with truth
tearing down barriers
ripping open wounds that
never seem to heal
erupting in anger in the language of the unheard.
What, through this perilous night,
do we seek, do we demand, do we dare to hope?

May our home Baltimore feel the heartbeat of every citizen.
May we acknowledge the injustice and the hurt
and may we, despite all these hard truths
know hope.
Not the hope of looking on bright sides
nor sweeping under carpets or bus-stop slogans.
Not the chamber-of-commerce hope of the privileged.
Real, gritty hope
that glimmers through the haze of oppression and shame
and emerges from honest conversations.
The hope hard-won through courage
wrested from exhaustion
and birthed by sick-and-tiredness.

May Baltimore be loved in all her complexity
and for her contradictions.
May her citizens be blessed with warm beds, hot meals, loyal friends, and good work.
All citizens, young and old
new and generational
marginalized and fictionalized.
The musicians and the poets, the teachers and the day laborers
those whose mother tongues span the globe
and whose kids bring seedlings home from school.
The fun ones and the serious ones
the leaders, the bystanders, the bold and the timid.
May we all see the light that shines through any darkness
and know the power of love to heal any injury.


2 thoughts on “Momentum: an ode to Baltimore

  1. Thanks, John. I’m intrigued by the timing of this. What motivated you to share it, and here? Something magical seems afoot. . . .

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