Baltimore in Scarlet

I have synesthesia.

But, instead of seeing sound

or hearing color

-which results from cross-talk between

auditory and visual neurons-

…I see pain.


Through some accidental quirk of nature,

my right supramarginal gyrus,

the empathy “center” of the human brain,

has strong connections to my visual cortex.

When someone is in pain,

I see waves of iridescent crimson

radiating from the person.


When I was a boy,

a friend of mine fell off his bike,

and skinned his knee.

I tried to clean up the blood,

but it kept flowing,

in wave after sanguine wave.

It wasn’t until later,

at the neurologist,

I realized I was seeing more than the physical wound,

but the emotional trauma as well.



I walked through Baltimore.

I could barely see through the crimson haze.

Emanating from the chests

of those who marched

was a dull red, pulsing tired.

This hurt was not the sharp scarlet

of intense immediate pain-


This suffering ached ruby from years of being held inside.

This pain turned the air florid with anguish,

and suffused the very streets with vermillion.


I walked through a city in agony.

When I came home

and saw the riots on the news

(which I saw none of in the 10,000 strong protest downtown)

I saw the white pundits,

on their alabaster thrones,

cool and emerald in their calmness,

in their analgesic world,

piously decrying the  protestors-

citing damage to nerveless properties.

I wish I could show them Baltimore

through my eyes,

point out the rubies of torment in their hearts,

the aching ruddy hue painting the city.

I wish they could see all the shades of red

I see, when I look at Baltimore.



I start playing Elevate,

specifically the “Processing” game,

where words fall ever faster from the sky

and you try to train your brain to keep up.

Across from me, a man,

doubled over, opens his hand.

Pills of every color lie nestled within.

As if in a stupor, he nudges them,

gently, with his forefinger.

Then, with slow and deliberate movements,

he picks up a fallen white capsule.

Placing it amongst its brethren,

he tightens his fist around the pills once more,

bringing them close to his chest.

His head sags down,

mouth half-agape.

Suddenly, the train bursts

into afternoon sunlight

as we cross a bridge,

the Charles sparkling below.

I look at my hand,

my phone still reads


How it feels to be told you’re not to be trusted


Two weeks.

A fortnight.
14 revolutions of Terra swinging gravely about Sol.

Two weeks since we decided the make-up sex was not worth the fights.

In that time I:

-explored stretched mentality in a nestled cabin amongst brethren
-wielded bong and bottle valiantly against sobriety night after excruciatingly long night
-and, during one such battle, recruited a female compatriot to stave off thought; banishing it with intimate touch.

Two weeks later.
I am in your room,
feeling the dead claw at their graves in my chest.

I tell you I slept with her.

Except I don’t just tell.

I twist my words with labile veracity,
concluding that because you hurt me,
because you excommunicated me,
because I could no longer worship at your altar,
but to pay homage between someone else’s thighs.
YOU did this, I twist.

You have words, but all they say is hurt.
I have words, but all they are is ash in too many mouths.

I have kissed so many mouths and by God,
no one kisses me like you do.

We will kiss again, much later, but I will always taste the ash.

Two weeks you say.

You couldn’t go two weeks.

You crumble as I rise to leave.

I do not trust myself to say anymore twists.

You tell me,


“I will never trust you again.”

Dear former lover

Dear former lover,
I dreamt of you last night.
Tall and gangly and spirited and quietly and not so quietly amazing.
I think you and I both know
That I was parasitic.
I took and took
Because I needed so very badly
To be more than the rent half she had left me as
I took and took and left you the second she opened her legs back up to me.
There are few wrongs I feel I cannot make right.
We are one of them.
Last night I dreamt of you.
Of how you would look in my eyes
Turn and Laugh uproariously at a quiet inanity I might mumble
And as your gaze fell back to mine you would slap me, playfully
Your laugh was fuller than a brass band
Your eyes more mischievous than Puck.
It is hard, dear former lover.
To wake up from your smile.
And look into the eyes of the woman I now love.
Dreams meld the past with the present.
This morning, I loved you again.
I wish I could ask
In all humility
That you stray from my dreams forevermore.
That you unvisit my sleep.
Let me wake to the here and now.
I think though
That this is my penance.
To love and forget, love and forget,
Dream to reality, again and anon
It is only fair. It is only appropriate
Dear former lover,
I love you, in the former, in the imaginarium present, and in all, I am sorry. In all, I am sorry.

It Was a Beautiful Day and Nothing Was Wrong

Smiles nod to one another on the sidewalk

dimpled sunlight filters through polarized lenses

immaculate sundresses swirl a soft susurrus

    swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh


            an infant wails.

Lilting fabric yields forcefully towards the sound

swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh

melodic cooing, and smiles upon a tiny brow

yet still

newborn bawling

a caterwauling,

serenity splitting,


swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh

a tic forms in the passing smiles

the whirling dresses frenzy forward

surrounding the child

swirling crooning

swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh

swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh

swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh

yet ever still

newly minted vocal chords ululate distress

shrieking and wailing

howling unhappiness.

The smiles cease their laxadaiscal meander down the walk

staring, fixated upon the child

faces transfixed in positive grimaces

sunglasses winking merrily in the sunlight.

Inside the encircled smiles

the dresses are now swirling frantically

a frenzy of happy cooing

so fast they move

the air whipping about their hems

then suddenly

swissshhhhh ….    shhhhh.

a heavy, sun-laden silence.

The smiles dissipate, beaming

lacey dresses skim away, spinning whimsically in the breeze

where they depart

a child

skin, pale and cold

lies smiling, eyes blind to the sun staring down.


Don’t take me for a nice guy.

Don’t take me for an asshole.

Just… don’t take me.

To understand me you have to

see I am at sea.

Not a sailor or a captain,

not even a cook or a boatswain;

just a stowaway.

I lost my way and ended up here,

near the edge of the world,

hurled into a vast nothingness,

an empty expanse.

So with expansive words and gestures

I will attempt articulate that which festers me:

Because you see, I am not actually at sea.

This vessel is not within water…

…but has water within.

Encased in skin and sinew,

bone and muscle bustling to and fro,

I watch as I ebb and flow.

How can I be lost within myself?

Myself, a floating vessel of organs and cells,

excels at what it was designed to do.

We few survivors of evolution are designed merely for procreation.

The continuation of our lineages.

As if our only value lies with our heritage.

Thus, I am not worthy in and of myself but am instead a genetic repository.

I am transitory to my immortal genes.

I can see this while at sea,

My somehow submerged bouyancy allowing clarity.

It is almost freeing knowing your purpose is external to yourself.

That leaves the rest for the all-encompassing Self.

But I am lost in it- my rivers of coursing perceptions disregard the finer details like orientation to any surface.

Instead, a Charybdis discourse between sub-conscious selves.

I imagine them as little elves, delving into memories, gleefully shining the few they enjoy, toying with them, and then casually destroying me with them.

See this bauble?  See this sheen?  Watch it gleam as it sinks into the depths.

Watch it, and ponder your depth.

Ponder your death.

Because it is insignificant.

Significance lies in the passage of genes, remember?

Remember that one December?

Frost biting the air as you stroked her hair back from her cheek,

seeking a warmth not measured in degrees,

seizing you with a serpentine grip,

squeezing you so hard you forget to find your breath and you’re underwater,

watching as the gleaming pair of you drift into your depths.

So much has been lost down there.

Or up there.


In the sea that is me there is no direction.

Only omnipresent reflection,

mirrors on mirrors stretching into infinity

such that you cannot discern reality

from the playful facsimiles.

Simply float on.  And on.


It is silent here.

Not out of fear.

It is merely the nature of this place.

Placed so quietly in obscurity.

That is, Me.

Subway observations


Black marker attempting permanence.

Scattered newspapers

scuffled underfoot

dried slush proclaiming

40% OFF! 

discounts meet boot heels.

Glance up:

grey flats, white laces trying to shine

omnipresent grime

this Boston winter grits

the Orange line into shades of salt rime.

Those grey pants are too tight

for this thirty-something texter.



Time to contemplate the empty

Arizona bottle skittishly questioning toes.

1) Who gets ‘zona’s in plastic bottles?

2) Why is the cap off?

Did you purposefully drop TWO pieces of trash

just so you could be twice the asshole?

or maybe


hidden among the dinginess

of tired commuters

-Tufts stop-

-man absently kicks 40% OFF

does not register the deal he’s smudging-













-got off train at Downtown Crossing-


If I am to describe racism,
as I feel I must,
I choose not to give it beastly form.
It is not Cerberus or the Lernaean Hydra-
though I do appreciate the imagery-
something ghastly that,
after decapitating one head you
may yet be devoured by the others.


It is far far far more human than that.

A screeching pterodactyl does not
pull a white child away from a black one
while they are playing together in a park.

A snarling wolf does not clutch
its purse more tightly if
a black man is walking behind it
on the street at night.

A fiery demon does not become
indignant at your suffering,
interjecting that they too
have suffered.


It is far far far more human than that.

It is the quiet Vivaldi that
blacks have been whistling
ever so softly.
But now their lips are cracked and bleeding
now this country is cracked and bleeding
and the hip hop reverberates
into the Vivaldi
while anger reverberates in streets
while justice seems to be
peculiarly silent
while white people seem to be
peculiarly silent
as if race is an uncomfortable unspeaking at the dinner table that is better left untouched
until your stomach feels so sick at the silence
-that disgustingly stiflingly quiet silence-
that you feel the bass in your spine
you feel the rhymes ignite your nerves
and you let the anger flip that table
you shatter the silence
and you say
there is a multi-headed beast
it’s head is on these shoulders
on your shoulders
on his shoulders
and we cannot cut off all our heads,
no more than we can keep them bowed.

And they just stare at you.

And ask “why would you flip the table?”
Why can’t you sit down
at the hushed Vivaldi table
and tell us what is wrong
as eloquently
as whitely
as you can.


The day after International Women’s Day, I wanted to reflect on why the gender divide is still so monumental.  Here are some of my thoughts:

I think chauvinism is insecurity dressed in hostilities:

the patriarchy were told they were sissies

and if for a second tears revealed the histories of emotion

written deep into skin, but hidden from sun,

trucculent emotions that sway not to the natural

ebb and flow of karmic miasma we call this world –

we brand them NOT MEN.

This is not to say they are deserving of respect

for denigrating the other sex.

Rather, if we are to move forward

in that vague positive direction that

really could be leeward or starboard

or up or down

but in reality is that wonderful place where we




If we can reach human empathy,

why, that would be something to see.