in the 1991 coming of age classic,
Ricky is shot through his back
with a sawed-off shotgun clutched
from inside of a Chicago Bulls red Hyundai.
two weeks later his brother, Doughboy,
after spinning the block, is killed
the same way after avenging Ricky’s
which is to say,
gun violence in any ghetto
is a gangsta ass protagonist.
(but I’ll explain that later.)
in the opening scene of Menace II Society,
Caine & O-Dog enter a convenience store.
open fire, slaying the owner & his wife,
all in the name of having opps.
Justice’s boyfriend Markell got caught lacking & is murdered.
& so is Lucky’s cousin.
Bishop after shooting Q,
is slung to his death from a rooftop.
Sincere shoots back at Black.
Beans slides on Caesar.
Jody is nearly whacked by Rodney.
& if we talkin plots
i was born at the end of the 80 something.
i was born in a city where death & bullet smoke swarmed through the air.
i was born in a movie entitled the Crack and semiautomatic era:
who survives & who doesn’t.
& I wish my life was a director's cut or a pilot production.
i wish these Baltimore scars were B-Roll footage.
i wish me fighting demons came with a stunt devil.
i wish my smile wasn't a dress rehearsal costume.
i wish me saying it will be okay wasn't just another screenplay lie.
i wish i was an extra in this movie.
cause I’m from a city where misfortune is a casting call
for a scene entitled “perseverance.”
to understand my script
you must must first know that:
this ain't no movie, this real life.
the script here written with street signs & zones,
grit transcribed on brick & border
each block, each terrace, each boulevard.
no HBO premiere,
no hood drama classic,
no ABC headline,
just middle fingers to America. fuck it,
this ain’t no movie, this real life.
this, where families step on landmines of poverty &
where mothers skip meals to fill her kids bellies &
where grammas raise 3 generations &
where death rings out in 3’s in broad day &
where like the club funerals happen every weekend &
fentanyl is horror movie spoiler &
where pain reigns like the water we thirst for &
i’m sorry, but this ain’t no movie, this real life.
no Tarantino cut, no Tyler Perry ending,
no Stephen King thriller, no trending Netflix series
here, you be broken code.
you be morse code.
you be broken notes.
you be off tune choruses.
but here you are a rap music soundtrack in God’s ear.
808 thumps of character outlasting lies.
a trillion dollars worth of love in a storyline.
an Academy winning classic.
the script here, for mixtape rappers. the script here, for middle of the mall hustlers.
the script here, for men who left it all in the streets
for a piece of mind and sleep at night.
here, 9 to 5er. here, paycheck to paycheck.
here, squeegee boy at red lights.
here, girls braiding hair in her mama’s kitchen.
here, barbers who are fathers and therapists.
here, boys who made friends out of dirt bikes.
here, ex felon who can take a car apart and make it whole again.
here, hungry hustlers hoping for humble beginnings.
here, story of bloom from dust & darkness & now
Wallace Lane is a teacher, poet, writer and author from Baltimore and a Creative in Residence at the Baltimore Banner.