This Side of Hell

Normally, I don’t explain the intent behind my writing because I like it to be open for interpretation. However, the meaning behind this poem is real, not as abstract or metaphorical as my others.

Living in the Baltimore area all you have to do is watch 5 minutes of the nightly news to see how riddled the city is with gangs, drugs, and murder. It is a veritable hell in some parts. But when you’re raised in that hell, you know no other way of life, and escape from it is more difficult than most can comprehend.

As I leave the Baltimore City limits while driving home from work each day I pass mile marker 66.6 right before I exit the highway. I feel like I’m crossing the line that separates hell from the rest of the world. It makes me reflect each day how lucky I am to have been born and raised on this side of hell—a place where I was given hope, dreams, and love.

This Side of Hell
When the need to survive is lifted
Trust is forged without need to shell.
The need to scrape by—nonexistent.
When born this side of hell.

You’re raised.
You say right.
You’re praised.
You do right.

No bullets fly in the street.
No sirens blare.
Fathers put their children to sleep.
Mothers tell them how much they care.

It’s easy to live right.
When all you have to do is thrive.
It’s easy to misunderstand the plight.
Of the hell dweller’s need to survive.

We cannot speak of hell’s fruit.
We can only picture what others tell.
Pass judgment and shirk the truth.
Simply because we’re born this side of hell.


  1. WOW! Amazingly powerful. That last line was very impacting.


  2. Perceptive, truthful and honest. A refreshing view of social problems.

  3. I know what you mean! I was born in SE DC, and by sheer fortune, my father was restationed at APG in Harford County. While I still spent many summers in my hometown with family, I can only imagine how my life, my dreams, would have turned out had I stayed...Incredibly powerful! Keep it up!