\\ S O F T W I N G S //

by Annie Baldwin

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this is a demo tape of improvised poetry and other oddities captured & recorded on a grungy old cassette recorder in aurora, il with eric peter schwartz.


released July 29, 2017

poet: annie baldwin
guitar: eric peter schwartz

mastered & transferred from cassette at mystery street recording
cover art photo taken by: @imcalledmars
inspired by this weird & wild chicago life



all rights reserved


Annie Baldwin Chicago, Illinois

improvisational spoken word poet
creating work in chicago that is sparkly & biting, leaving it in unexpected places.

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Track Name: running, open & unafraid
the crescent moon,
your father's fingernails,
the mess of lights down western ave,
your maiden name fresh on my tongue.

night time in chicago
unafraid of what claws at my neck,
running in the rain in this holy floral dress to catch another bus.

the rain on my open thighs
the rain on my open thighs
taking in earth like it's my birthright
letting the raindrops slide past my unshaved knees, back into the concrete.

the woman at welfare office had said when she was young & wealthy,
she dreamt of owning an entire block & running naked in the rain.

And here I am living her dream
with that kind of freedom in my lap.


young & wealthy.
open & unafraid.
Track Name: anthem of the radiant
To every woman who has ever given herself
so whole and holy to the earth
like a monarch butterfly gives itself to the wind
or a stream give itself to all living things:

you are healing and bountiful.

you break through anything in your way
like flowers growing through the cracks on the concrete
because nothing can hold back your brilliance.

your palms open up like sunflowers as you give yourself
to bring more love into the world around you.

we steep in the radiance of your moonlight soul.

we honor the dirt in your fingernails
as you harvest the fruits of your labor.

as you travel far to love like dandelion seeds
when a child takes a deep breath and
you bloom in every living color.
Track Name: swimsuit song
I was the withering flower. now, I am the water.
I was the withering flower. now, I am the water.
I was the withering flower in my black witch hat.
now, I am the water.

And he took me by the water in sunset falls, washington.
And he took me by the water.

I was wearing my marilyn monroe swimsuit and I laid on a rock like I was a fucking mermaid.
I felt beautiful- ain’t that the truth?
And I lowered the bathing suit a little and
my tits were out.
I felt really beautiful because the water was sparkling 
 like my heart was sparkling.

And I thought this guy was my everything because he was the first guy I had sex with in a tent.
And it was everything because the stars were like crystals and I was like here for it.


I was ready and I was unafraid.
I was unashamed and I was unafraid.
I was unashamed and I was unafraid.

I’m laying on this rock like I am a mermaid who lost her top and this family in a station wagon pulls across the bridge and they’re sightseeing and boy, did they see something because they saw me topless that day.

And I didn’t know what to do except stay there and pretend I wasn’t there. But I was because there is something about me, you know?
you always know when I’m here. I’m not so easily hidden.
You know when I’m in a room. You know when I’m there.
You know when I am thinking about you because obviously, you text me when I am thinking about you and I am often thinking about you. I am thinking about all of you, all of you, everything I’ve seen of you.

I am unafraid and I am unashamed. We all get naked sometimes.
And in my poetry, I feel the most naked. I feel alive.

I’m alive.
still here, survivor,
coming through everything I am trying to hide.

Don’t always need to be hidden.
Don’t always need to be afraid.
Don’t always need to use flowery language.
Don’t always need to cover up.

This is my body: pubic hair, stretch marks and all.
This is my body: greasy hair.
Body: armpit hair.
Body: deodorant. body.

I’m not going to cover myself up because I am afraid that I’ll be too much because
I was born too much. I am always here too much.

And with the right people, maybe, that’ll be enough.
with the right people, maybe, that’ll be enough.
maybe with the right people, that’ll be enough.
maybe one day i’ll be enough.
I’ll see that I am enough.

Maybe I will not be ashamed of the times I was the withering flower.

Maybe I’ll revive said flower of my past, said flower.
Give it water because it’s thirsty and it’s dying
with all the flowers I did not water at my bedside.

They say keep weapons at your bedside. They say keep weapons at your bedside.
Keep a knife under your bed. Keep a knife under your bed.

And why am I always feeling like I have to fight something off or I need to run?
That I just can’t sit here and belong. Always have to run.

Like I’m some big star, heading to the next town, heading to the next waffle house, heading back to cleveland, ohio where that poet kissed me in the morning
where that poet kissed me in the morning and made me coffee.
that poet that I never talked to again, except maybe in poems, in telekinetic poems.
maybe in the times I think about passing lake erie
think about passing it so gently on my way to new york city.

Unafraid and open.
Unashamed and open.

I was the withering flower.
I was the withering flower.
I was the withering flower.

now, I am the water.
Track Name: seeking softness in the end of the world we knew
I want lip gloss that matches the pink and gold wallpaper here.
I want roses, lavender ice cream, and to love you
in a way that makes me feel free.
I want to be little spooned by the world.

I hot glue the sole of my shoe back on,
overturn a brick in spring,
only place it back down on the wet earth
when all the millipedes have slithered away.

I burn photographs of my exes,
bury the ashes in my backyard.
I ward their spirits off with sage and palo santo.
repeat, I reject love like this.
love like this. love like this. love like this.

I hope for blue skies and love that does not need permission.

I seek sweetness and home,
forgiveness for the lost girl
still learning how to navigate
loneliness and the fog.

I honor this heartbreak that erupts from tenderness.
I soothe myself but let my friends hold me now tighter than before.

So when she offered me feminist lit before bed,
I took it because her love was pure.

Her love was like the first time you opened a mason jar
to free a lightning bug because you didn’t want it to die in there-
Don’t let me die in this fear or in fear that is not wholly mine.

I once pressed my ear up to his chest and in that moment, I didn’t feel afraid anymore.
I forgot what if felt like to be so close to someone that you hear the beating of their heart.
I held him tighter and listened wine drunk. I listened to what it said, later stole his flannel
with blue ink stains that write his soul back to wholeness. He is softer than I remember.

I hope for a world where vulnerability comes with less shame.
I hope for a world of people who let go of lightning bugs
and who come closer. press into your paper heart
like petals from flowers you picked that only said,
I love you. I love you. I love you.

You press flowers into your grandmother’s photo album
like your cheek into his chest when you last held him,
press gently in a way that makes you feel free.
You pick flower petals not because you question who loves you
but because you love yourself and your tenderness,
the poems in your iPhone notes and the notes in all your favorite books
that tell you to keep going even when you are scared, lonely.

See, even on days when I am the lightning bug trapped in the mason jar,
when my body becomes this cage that he pulls me out of by my achilles’ tendons
when I am cut open on stage or crying through my cateye sunglasses on the cta,
when I can no longer hold my shadow by its leash,
I still will not let this clay body harden.

When the world is unlike anything we knew,
I will still seek softness over sweetness.
I will keep my ear to his chest. I will stay close.
I will let my shadow go where it needs to,
I will die an open jar poet, weaving my life
open, soft, and holy. Mine.