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“Baltimore Uproar” by Romare Bearden

By Reginald Harris

Upton / Avenue Market Metro Station, Baltimore, Maryland

Get off here. This is a story you've
been told: these streets before the trash,
the rats, the crack-heads nodding to ghost
music. That past a distant gleam of notes,
sound-magicians dreaming, rising
from these streets: diminutive
personifications of the beat, rhythm
made compact flesh; flamboyant
fly-brimmed hipsters high on hi-de-ho,
lexographers of jive; and Our Dark Lady,
transformed from turning tricks to
trickster by the music, through her songs.

From The Avenue to the after-hours you
could hear it in the changes, the shift from
working day to glittering night. Shattering
twists of phrase calling out, the turn of a gloved
hand sheathed in silver from fingertip to elbow
to hide the tracks beneath. Rising from the
platform, the scent of gardenias is in the train's
retreating roar, leaving departing commuters
in spangled shards of sound. These multicolored stones
are her petals, a frozen music always calling,
calling back, urging on -- Rise up. Get off here. Rise

Added: Monday, July 14, 2014  /  From "Autogeography" (Nortwestern University Press, 2013). Used with permission.
Reginald Harris
Photo by: Ocean Morisset

Poetry in the Branches Coordinator for Poets House in New York City, Reginald Harris was a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year for 10 Tongues: Poems (2001). A Pushcart Prize Nominee and recipient of Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, his work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and other publications. Contributor to LGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia (2008), he is currently pretending to work on two manuscripts.

Other poems by this author