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Blightward Ho
8-8:40 A.M., Northeast Baltimore, 5/24/17

“Looking after each other is the only meaningful protest we can make against the ugliness of this world.”

-Woman on a food store parking lot, after giving a homeless man, who had declined her offer to buy him a meal, some canned meat and crackers, 5/23/17

I emerged in sunglasses from the foot of the writing den to a sodden sky, dripping its last over soaring elm, haggard pine and the spread of hundred year oak.

The invisible songbirds tweeted, whistled, cooed and peeped as I turned left and left again, away from the main street blight and into the just risen sun.

The house where She was strangled was overgrown and uncared for, the anonymous, creeping green glistening under the peeking rays.

I imagined an apology and turn away into the sizzling sun, the blanket of dripping cloud peeling away before and above and now behind me as the grace of the song birds was rudely usurped by the raucous squawks of Baltimore’s avian familiar, the scavenging brown starling, running in gangs, savaging sparrows and robins alike, making even the crows seem a model of decorum, perched on their stark light poles.

Beneath the brightening sky I managed to stroll among the well-manicured homesteads of this new frontier:

Every third house face is mouthed with a barred door.

Every tenth house is either vacant or dilapidated into drooping despair, or shimmering with the colorful array of some dedicated gardener’s art.

Every twentieth house flies a flag, like an outpost of a past ethos in a sea of immorality.

On Carter, a few blocks from a prison-like school, I passed a ranch house gated behind a brick and white wood wall on an entire acre of oak-shaded land. The doors on the lesser houses all around are elegantly barred, the yards impeccably groomed, this besieged oasis of a city block whispering in elegant defiance against the onslaught of blight.

I strolled some more, buoyed by the evidence of spirit.

The last working people motored off toward the blighted zones to east, west, north and south.

The first hoodrats had risen from their slumber in the Arbor Oaks garden apartments, green lawns neatly accentuating the spare brick structures, a massive oak wrecking a sidewalk from below.

A ho and her yo, done breeding for the night, scream across Mary Avenue about scuffed private parts, claw marks and other residue of the recent romp, in the crudest parody of simian proto-culture, as they enter their dilapidated autos and peel off blightward.

I stroll some more, hoping to recapture some repose.

Beside a miniature red maple, still glistening with the night’s rain under the blue-streaking sky, a handsome woman of sixty with close coifed hair, pruning perennials in her white rubber knee pads, appeared down to my right, even as an obscene cacophony erupted ahead. A rasping, strained, snarling—yet somehow yelling—female voice was driven to the ear:

“Muthafuckin’ nigga bitch—do I gots ta fuckin’ carry yo fuckin’ bitch-ass too? Ha, nigger, ha!?”

Faint sobs were heard as the tiny creature came into view, crossing the street which I stood on, toddling on behind his wrathful matriarch unsuccessfully, being dragged on his sneaker toes by his cruelly clutched wrist, hand reaching skyward like the animate dead. His wide, pain-filled eyes, watering his shedding cheeks, fixed on nothing and no one in particular, seemed to ask the world, Why?

The Uncaring World remained mute.

The onlookers, one stunned the other wearied by the scene, remained dumb.

The only voice to answer his silently pleaded plight came from ahead and above him, “Fuckin’ walk, muthafucker—fuckin’ carry yo fuckin’ load!!”

And they were out of sight, having crossed the street, an onward-hunched beast woman dragging her staggering and accursed legacy into an all too certain future.

The gardening woman looked up at me with brokenhearted eyes and I looked away and walked on, turning opposite of the Hood Queen’s sainted path, not wishing to hear any more oratory from the shuffling font and focus of postmodern American morality, leaving the kneeling woman to her shrubs.

As I walked back past the place of Her suffocating death, the creeping weeds had lost their moist sheen and seemed somehow already wilted by the sun.

White in the Savage Night: A Politically Incorrect Life In Words: 2016

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