sun’s up, nobody’s woke


sun’s up, nobody’s woke

we’re bleeding out

not only from the gun and knife

though we’re losing there, too


we’re bleeding out


bleaching out

dark pools of creativity

taking a bucket and brush

to possibility


on the streets and stoops

brother to brother, mother to son, east side to west

a game of Chinese whispers






& this

on the lips of the last player


“we need to be

outta here


but here”


just to

have a minute


catch a breath


take it in

let it go


take a spin

let it rip

without gettin’ rolled up on

for nothin’ real

nothin’ more

than just tryin’ to be


hoodie’s up

for a minute

keepin’ the chill off

from that cold april wind







even summer

it blows



through gaping holes

in the heart

that won’t close






don’t need an abacus

to do the math

to feel the weight

of two hundred stones

pushed across a wire

to feel the hurt

of two hundred stones

lined up along a furrow

in the dirt


early morning thursday

1231 greenmount

board’s up

instead of a door

a sacred heart of jesus

tacked up

where a window

used to be


lord, you can see straight up to heaven

lookin’ through that house


because there’s


on the other side


just sky and

that cold april wind

blowin’ through


nothin’ there

no one home


nothin’ more to say

‘cept .  .  .


sun’s up, nobody’s woke






nothin’ more to do

‘cept .  .  . leave

‘cept .  .  . try to be




for real



where children

can run


not from blue or black

stick or gun


can run-without lookin’ back


can run-just to play


can run-with no why’s


can run-just because







just to breathe

take it in/let it go

just to be

for once



but here

maybe here


& this

on the lips of the last player



the people look like people at last”


Since working at Caroline Center, I have often said that the two and a half miles I travel to work each day comprise some of the most honest, powerful, and real moments one might experience in life. Everything that can happen, happens here.

While writing sun’s up, nobody’s woke, I was thinking about the panoply of life along Greenmount Avenue; imagining a game of “telephone” or “Chinese whispers” stretching out for miles – from “mother to son, east side to west;” and thinking about how far we’ve come, or not, since the death of Freddie Gray. 

Last week, just hours  and a couple of blocks from Baltimore’s 200th homicide of the year, 58 women in Caroline Center’s Class 67 graduated and took their first bold steps out into the world of professional practice as certified nursing assistants and certified pharmacy technicians.

Roses all. The way Tupac saw roses.

Flowers in bloom. The way Bukowski imagined flowers blooming. 

So real. The way Tom Waits felt the weight of real in Bukowski’s poetry.

Graduates at last. Wearing their “many beautiful truths from a hard scrabble life.”



This entry was posted in #Stay Woke, 2Pac, Black Lives Matter, Caroline Center, Charles Bukowski, Freddie Gray, Nether, Tom Waits, Tupac Shakur, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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