Now Reading: Things We Said Before Baltimore


Things We Said Before Baltimore

August 30, 20175 min read

This is a poem about the great divide between friends and families with their rising college students. For me, a rising senior, this has been a summer of immense growth amidst the college process. At a different pace, for recent high school graduates, this is the summer of new acclimation. On the subway back home from the Lower East Side, where I had just met up with a friend that is going away to university, I recorded some words exchanged between us. I have noticed great changes in my interactions and outlook on senior year.


“I think that I hit her in the face so hard that she lost sight and a couple of eyelashes that night.”

“I can’t take this tonight. Someone already sprayed me in the eyes with a fire extinguisher”

“it was too hot in there. I needed a smoke break.”

“I saw the clouds shifting and thought that the fucking sky was sinking.”

“For once, I feel like I am with the right people at the right time- even if that time happens to be 4am.”

“I’ll take this shot for you.”

“I am surprised that we haven’t gotten any noise complaints yet. You can literally feel the building shaking every time the door opens.”

“Sorry. No cigarettes in the elevator.”

“Can you feed me Cheetos from that bag while I mop?”

“Look at me. Last August, who would have thought that I would be on this roof with you talking about some kid from middle school.”

“There’s someone knocked out behind the couch in the back. I don’t want anyone dead in the venue tonight.”

“Sometimes it’s like he wouldn’t even care if I dropped dead. He really tried to just ditch me in the middle of Chinatown.”



I still feel change in the thick globs of red strawberry chapstick on my teeth



you are a constant back and forth

the whites in your eyes are always bulging

the blood from the night before is still on the sidewalk, your sleeves, clean bedsheets, shower curtains

I can make you feel new when I pull myself out from between your mattresses



I was convinced that you could pull my hairs out one by one and fill my head with sedatives and a liquid religion

I wanted you to change the color of my eyes and the skin around my waist before you wrung my thighs out like a beach towel in an Indian sunburn



“it’s more in your head than anything”

“mom, she’s going so high! she’s going to hurt herself.”

“I want to go high like her.”

“I am almost touching the tree.”

“you haven’t seen it yet, but i am always overcontrolling to those undeserving of it.”

“that statue went missing for a while. my mom watched a documentary about it.”

“i want more flapjack”

“canal street always takes you somewhere that you need to be”

“everyone here is always crying about something”

“i’m not even sure that I want to get this piercing right now, but i’m going to do it anyways”

“god bless you”

“you look more like your brother than anything right now”

“hold my hand during this please”

“ever since we hung out that day, i felt like might have soaked up your spirit. it’s heavy.”

“nothing have ever impacted me deeply enough to talk to you about it”



i always have one foot out the door

red, blotchy poison ivy rashes

the skin that i am in is new and peeling

moving out is as hard on you as it is for me

loose breaths that i heard from my bedroom through the screen door downstairs, sounded alarming

you are the whites in my eyes that i think are going grey

you are the tea spilled in the altar and the eternal light of wet matches


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Kelly Chen

Kelly is a teen artist and writer from NYC, currently attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She is vocal about the Asian American community, urban adolescence, and social effects of changing demographics in music. Kelly is a fashion forward punk rocker just trying to integrate functions in Calculus and sing songs about the Periodic Table of Elements in Chemistry.