portion of the artwork for Adam Falkner's poetry
The War in Baltimore
Adam Falkner

She asked if I’d heard of the War in Baltimore. I said No.
She said Are you serious, Mister? That’s messed up.

That war was like—a really big deal. Without looking up
from my grading, I said Tell me about it. She said OK, it’s like this:

People had said that we shouldn’t have gone there because
Baltimore was like, mad dangerous or whatever

I said Dangerous how? Bushwick is dangerous. She said No, Mister.
Like, people were for real fighting. Not over no stupid shit

like these kids here. My uncle’s friend was one of the people
they had fight there. He’s all addicted to drugs now, though.

He comes around sometimes still, but it’s kinda sad.

I said How old is your uncle’s friend? She said I don’t know, Mister.

Mad old. That’s not the point
. I said Fine. What was this war about?
She said OK, it’s like this:

People had said that Baltimore might take over the world
with how they thought, or whatever
. I asked her if she ever watched

The Wire on TV. She said Mister, I’m trying to tell you this story.
What are you talking about right now?
I said Never mind.

She continued: Like, people were shook, you know? Other countries
was up there too—they thought the same things as we did.

I asked her if she was sure the war she was talking about happened
in Baltimore. She frowned, squinted, and tried to revisit Mr. Peil’s lesson

in her head. Maybe not, she agreed. She tried to fill her mouth
with a few different sounds, tested each one quietly

with a breathy whisper to herself. Maybe Valtimore.
Maybe Valitmann
. I looked up from my grading. Do you mean Vietnam?

She smiled. That’s it! Viet Mann. So you DO know what I’m talking about.
I told her that yes, I knew about it, but that Baltimore was a very,

very long way from Vietnam. She said Oh and dropped her eyes
to the floor. She opened her chocolate milk in silence.

After a few moments, she grew curious again: So where is Baltimore?
I said About three hours south of here. There is a train from Penn Station.

Her eyes became Christmas morning.
Mister Falkner. Do you think we could go there?

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012