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.


Blogger Kathleen said...

so true, emily.
the number of those touched by the murders make the casualties an even bigger number.
very sad about d.
extremely sad.

11:33 PM  
Blogger George said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Em. I thank you for sharing this because you put a face on an impersonal number. Homicides in the city, get a number; homicides in a war are called collateral damage, and we dare not assign a number. How good we are at disguising the painful truths in which we live, and we are able to live in our calloused shells never considering the pain that is tearing apart the many who are affected by these senseless deaths.

7:21 PM  
Blogger KMS said...

176. It's amazing how normalized those numbers can be made through the media.

We are under 20 for the year here in Minneapolis. I have to catch myself from rolling my eyes when people spin it into the fear zone. Each life is precious and we should be outraged with even with "just" 20 homicides.

But, 176. Heart wrenching.

11:35 PM  
Blogger KMS said...

And your writing is haunting.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Just found your site and I really like your writing and your topics. Way to hit the hard stuff. I can tell you feel for your kids/ the world, and we (the world) can always use more writers like that!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

beautiful, sad and true.

5:31 PM  
Blogger The Reticent One said...

powerful poem, I will be following

3:30 PM  
Blogger Lion Chiller said...

Your poem is a strong statement- of dispassionate figures on inhuman nature...

10:55 PM  

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