Monday, October 19, 2009


That's the number of homicides
so far this year
in the city of Baltimore--

from best I can tell.

The number always gets bigger.


But it's just a number.

The radio talks about how it's lower
than other years.

This is progress.

Only 176.

Then there's a connection
to one of those murders.

You know a mother,
an angry brother
and a sensitive one--

it's more than a number.

It's not just one life cut short--
one scholarship never used
another statistic it's

how do those left behind
get over the loss of

176 fingers
stretching long
over the city
like a spider's thin web.

We try to duck and cover
but in certain neighborhoods

it's only a matter of time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poems to Melt Your Heart

That's what she titled her file
at the end of the day on the computer.
Writing a poem doesn't end the pain
she started.

This morning I got bombarded--

N: Miss Emily, I need some adoption papers.
Me: Adoption papers? For what?
N: For me. I'm putting myself up for adoption.
Me: Hmmm. I don't have any. But I can google it for you after school...see what I can do.

So it was that I found myself at the end of the day typing
adopt a 12 year old girl
12 year old girl adoption
into the google tool bar

Me: I'm not sure this is going to solve your problem.
N: Well, Matilda did it. She got adopted. She's smart and I'm smart. I don't know why I can't do the same thing.

Like a girl out of a story book
she turned to book heroines
to expand her opportunities.

She melts my heart.