Selections From the Writing Workshop at the Re-Entry Center at the Northwest Community Career Center
"Things Have Changed . . . "
we had fallout shelters
inside local schools
now a nuclear weapon
changed all the rules\
race relations seem
last on the list
won't be missed\
music videos let
us see music
so lyrics don't make sense
who listens anymore\
rhythm was changed
line dancin' has fame
and jazz musicians
well color fades these dayz\
stand-up comics know
profanity is headline material
so now people pay to
get cussed out\
while little children
eat pills for bein' deranged\
these are the daze
of our lives
is the end near
who really cares?
"Me, Me, Me"
by Dwayne E. Campbell
The little girl sat in her stroller growing animated and very agitated as her ammom pushed her across Edmondson Avenue, stopping near Kluk-Kluk--a name pronounced like the sound the tongue makes when striking the bottom of the mouth twice. All the little girls attempt to attract the attention of Kluk-Kluk, all fell on occupied ears.
"Didn't this jerk know I had something to tell him?" thought the little girl.
Kluk-Kluk stood on the bus stop with Byrd, his girlfriend of 15 months. Self-absorbed in his own situation. He did, however, briefly and incognegro like, notice the beautiful shape of the young lady who pushed the little girl inches away from him moments ago. The little girl was wearing a blue denim dress and white sandals, with her hair in pretty little braids covered in clear and white plastic beads.
"Her ammom had fantastic feet, just like my baby Byrd's," said Kluk-Kluk to himself. Accentuated by her palatable pedicure served in tan-colored sandals, with blue jeans that may've been painted on, and this orange top that did her vitamin C's justice--or maybe they were her sunny D's.
It was supposed to be a special day for Kluk-Kluk, his birthday. But, like almost all of them, they were mostly crap. Kluk-Kluk and Byrd had just had an argument, and as if on cue, the crappy carnation of Kluk-Kluk's birthday bud began to blossom. Byrd wanted to go to the movies to see Little Man. Kluk-Kluk called the move ignant and said, "We should go and see something a little more sophisticated like Pirates of the Caribbean." Byrd conceded, 'cause it was Kluk-Kluk's birthday, and to argue with Kluk-Kluk was to debate an unmovable force of infinite knowledge and infinite ego. Byrd went along with it and acted cool. Kluk-Kluk knew she was spoiled and was almost moved to tears by the theatrical performance of self-sacrifice Byrd displayed on his birthday. Not to throw a hissy-fit or show forehead wrinkles of discontent--that, that was priceless, and Byrd definitely deserved an Oscar.
Byrd and Kluk-Kluk stood on the bus stop in relative silence. Kluk-Kluk heard the little girls cackle, but classified it with dirt bikes wheeling up the street, music booming from cars, and the delusional dribble of the drunks, all nonessential sound. Suddenly, as if being assisted by a megaphone, the little girl in the stroller hit a note of determination, deemed to draw Kluk-Kluk's attention. Looking to his right at the child whose call commanded compliance, Kluk-Kluk saw the child waving with her left hand and saying some garbled form of "hello." Kluk-Kluk, in a moment of enlightenment, turned to the little girl and waved back with his right hand, "Hello." With that, the little girl sat back in her stroller, smiling satisfactorily to herself.
"This I Believe"
By Bernard V. Johnson II
I believe everyone should spend time at the beach. Everyone should lay poolside and admire the dancing palm trees under the low white clouds painted on the meditating blue sky.
Everyone at poolside should have their own personal masseuse giving them manicures and pedicures and massaging them with aromatherapy or suntan lotion. A cabana crew should deliver colorful drinks as everyone watches a poolside fashion show featuring one-pieces, two-piece bikinis, and Speedos as a DJ spins chill-out lounge music.
Dark-haired, blue-eyed women should show off their pierced navels, belly chains, thick thighs, and shiny breasts while muscular tanned guys profile with their tats, nipple rings, washboard abs, and well-defined pecs.
The non-poolside junkies should lie on the beach and be bathed by hot drizzling rain and caressed by hot winds while a cool ocean mist from the crashing waves lightly sprays them with a refreshing ocean haze.
I believe everyone should videotape the water acrobatic antics of the surfers and windsurfers as they glide across the emerald green water.
We all should either jog on the beach or roller blade up the boardwalk while we listen to our MP3 players. In the early evening, there should be a beach party where everyone plays volleyball and sand soccer and eats hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled shrimp, smoked salmon, and barbeque ribs.
Well-aged land-dwelling pirates wearing tan scarfs and khaki capris should use metal detectors to find hidden treasures.
At midnight, romance will come alive as all the couples kiss simultaneously under the dark blue velvet sky after a romantic stroll along the beach.
As romantic couples sit along the beach, I believe folklore will come alive and mermaids and mermen will swim to shore and emerge from the foam where the land meets the sea and deliver a worldwide message that there is no work, no storms, no hurricanes, no worries, no wars, and no issues. This I believe.
Excerpt from Jack
By Roy Johnson
Entering his house Jack walk straight to his bedroom and jump straight on the bed, knocking his mother stuff on the floor because she gots a habit of using his room as a closet just because he's not home most of the time.
Jack lie on his back and close his eyes and listen to the multiple gunshots being fired for New Year's.
"Whoo boy! Hurry up and get your funky ass in the tub," said his mother.
"Lo-Lo, you know I been runnin' the street the last few days."
"Jack, whatever you doing out in that street you need to stop. And stop using drugs. Stop feelin' sorry for yourself."
"It's not that. Right now I just have a lot of shit on my mind."
"Well, you better get the shit off your mind and stop bullshittin'."
"I know, Lo-Lo. Anyway, you know them niggas killed my dog last night. He was trying to protect me."
"Damn, Jack," Lo-Lo shook her head in disbelief.
Jack went into the bathroom, shut the door, and jump into the hot tub of water.
After Jack finish getting dressed he heads downstair to eat a bowl of cereal plus eat all the leftovers in the refrigerator that Lo-Lo leave for Jack and Cujoe. In her mind, Lo-Lo knew them two was a team when it came to cleaning her kitchen. Cujoe clean the refrigerator and Jack wash the dishes before returning back to the street.
Ten minutes later Jack walking up the street hollerin', "Black Ass, Black Ass . . . "
"Come on, Jack, the police is out here looking for me," Blackface said with his hoodie over his head and face down. Blackface had a mouth full of golds that will blind you when he start to talk. "Come on, Jack, I'm ghostin' nigga."
They pull off in the black on black Acura with the dark-tinted windows that match their dark complexion. You couldn't identify their faces walking up to the car.
By Barbara Redfearn
We were supposed to have come together and laugh,
nearing the ending of all of this . . . All of This
Put it into perspectives palatable to our bulging bellies and thinning hairs
Ra-Ra, Chaka Zulu, were supposed to give their final analyses of the
Black Panther Party that had enlisted an enthralled them, a final lift of the age-puffed
Black Power fist
We were supposed to laugh as someone reminded us of our defiant congregation on
North and Pennsylvania avenues during the '68 riot, when we challenged the white,
honky, chauvinist, pig cops with invokes of our First Amendment rights to assemble
and petition the government
We were supposed to laugh about how years later we were glad the scrimmage didn't
show up on our records, keeping us from getting our good government jobs and
prohibiting our employment at defense contracting companies
We were supposed to laugh at how the police became a source of security for our almost
paid-for homes which we never in our wildest dream thought we could afford
There was supposed to be a coming together for final analyses to all of this
But Ra-Ra died . . . Chaka died . . . Bey-Bey died . . . Mama Sue died . . . Larry died . . . Sister
Jeminah died . . . Martin died . . . Brother Sayid died . . . Maurice died . . . Kwame died . . .
By Irene Trueheart
Consumed by the romance novel
stealthily taken from the bus seat;
Emma sits slouched with one hand deep in her pocket,
caressing the coolness of a silver coin.
Her mind is taken to the old lantern
found recently in the shed of the back yard.
Tattered paper shell of fluorescent color,
revives dreams of glowing stringed lights
swaying across the sky.
Summer nights searing with unquenchable love
melt the stars away.
Reminiscing, she drums upon her thigh
the beats to her favorite dance song.
Reticent, she holds secrets too deep to be told.
By Tracy E. Williams
The insert prompter is blinking on my computer much like a migraine headache, ouch, ouch; you know the throbbing is going to strike again; it's just a matter of when the hammer will fall. I am hesitant to type, although the prompter is calling me to make the commitment. My pudgy little fingers are tapping ever so lightly on the keys more so to get a tactile sensation rather than to type. I acknowledge the smooth keys but still I am hesitant to strike a single one and plunge into the abyss that can take me to some unknown destination. It is not that I am selfish, mind you; it's more like I envision myself as being some type of Picasso. I gaze at a blank white sheet and that blinking bar and know intuitively it is saying, "Create, create, birth into this world your creation."
When my mind sails into compartments, I look around hoping to take hold of an anchor. I catch the look on a co-worker's face. It doesn't inspire me. It is a look of contempt. For a moment I pretend I am a mind reader: I want to tap into that look and find its essence. I watch my co-worker like a predator watches its prey. My computer magically turns into tall thin blades of grass; I am hidden from view. My eyes narrow and I notice my co-worker doesn't walk but, rather, she wobbles, leaning left, leaning right. She begins to tug at her shirt tails jutting over the bountiful rear end. Her movements are rhythmic yet uncomfortably deliberate. Like a cheetah that grows tired of a fresh kill, I feel a jolt of awareness that I am both the cheetah and the fresh kill.
My conflicted mind longs to be back on course, creating my finest work of art. I am full of ideas and dare not take a break. I reach to grab a water bottle and I take a long refreshing sip. I yawn and know I would like to stretch my legs but I don't want to break the steady flow. I stretch my arms as far as they will go and as I am stretching I feel a twinge in my lower abdomen. I think, Wow. I did those sit-ups days ago and I am still feeling it. In one of those a-ha moments I realize that the work of art is me. I started out with a blank space, set sail forward, and in the wake found a work of art. There are tons of things I don't know and tons of things I will come to learn but what I believe is that I am a work of art. I had only to chip away at the excess.
By Geraldine Wright-Bey
There are some areas that scream for attention in Baltimore City, also known as the City That Reads, the City That Believes, and other nice-sounding mottos. Do other taxpayers get peeved about the same things as I? I ask because the things that annoy me the most never change for the better. Do those who are responsible for routing traffic ever actively monitor the results of their illustrious work? Intersections where the traffic signals hold red for two or more minutes, with no traffic moving in either direction, seems to require hands-on monitoring. The traffic-flow professionals should consider the hands-on approach. I recommend the signals at Falls Road and 41st Street, Druid Hill Avenue and Reisterstown Road, Northern Parkway and Falls Road, just for starters. If a remote, computerized system is responsible for present regulation at these intersections, then maybe technicians should stand on the four corners and do a better calibration. If the latter is already the method used, then I suggest the former is instituted promptly. And if the former is presently used, please rush to try the latter.
There was much press about the mayor's intent to clean up the city's overflow of trash. When I hear announcements of major clean-up drives, I shrug. It is not that I don't care about how the city presents itself. When trees are bare during the fall and winter months one can see trash of every sort on the bank of the Route 40 West exit from Hilton Parkway at Edmondson Avenue. Do supervisors of work crews see the trash? They must not because it stays there. When spring arrives leaves provide a welcome cover for the man-made ugliness. It is a temporary respite.
I am mindful of those of us who exhibit 20/20 vision when seeing problems but post an IQ of -20 when it comes to solutions. I do not profess to know solutions. I do my best to be a good city citizen by paying taxes and voting. I don't litter. I try not to speed. I am not a candidate to experience severe street rage in moving traffic. And as I approach one of the mentioned intersections, where the traffic signal is always red for me, I reaffirm that somebody needs to fix it right away. In fall when the rubbish is readily visible again, I will mentally think the same.
The Black Box (6/16/2010)
Baltimore's African-American indie filmmakers search for an audience
Role Model (5/26/2010)
In his new book, John Waters writes about amateur pornographers, lesbian strippers, and Clarabell the Clown and reveals . . . himself
Transmodern Festival 2010 (4/14/2010)
Introduction and Schedule of Events
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201