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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s