Let me count the ways in which I am blessed:
born to a loving family, able afford therapy for
times my mind turned against me,
I forget these blessings, wallow in grief
a warm + wet blanket of self-absorption
but as I look at the clear blue sky
see the radiant sun + heavens shining above
I count the ways in which I am blessed.
(Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash)
History is collective memory, and it’s always subject to correction.
It’s written by winners, whether daughters of despots or democrats. They build bronze statues that inform us of what happened, who’s calling the shots, who owns the space you occupy.
As the city convulses, an ex-mayor’s monument is fractured, beat to the ground. Our historical texts must be rewritten, newspaper editors must be removed, the revolution must be televised and live streamed to your social media feeds, and you must forget what you’ve learned because
there are new facts.
(Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash)
The woman asks me for ten dollars – she demands it
I’m reluctant, standing in a pock-marked city,
but feeling pity for her, as she frantically talks
her eyes yellow like harvest moons
her voice shrieks like an urban banshee –
the realities of poverty and addiction,
the rich getting fatter off broken backs.
I reach into my wallet, hand her a ten-dollar bill
she hugs me + hurries away, vanishing into the night,
and as I walk home, I wonder if I’ll ever need to
ask for my ten dollars back
(Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash)
We are damnifacados: homeless, junkies,
people deem us less than human.
When you pass us on a hectic street, we’re resting with
backs to the wall asking for mercy, spare change –
you look away from our weathered faces,
we feel disgrace, in our soiled clothes, our tired eyes.
I love my city, the city of Philadelphia
I grew up outside your limits, near you in the ‘burbs
amazed by your skyscrapers, watching from
grandma’s steps in the shadow of St. Monica’s –
you aren’t always pretty, but you’re a city
with pride and spunk, attitude and funk,
the engine of our region with a legion of fans –
behind the cheesesteaks and Rocky Balboa,
we know how much heart you have and
even if we speak rough and act tough,
underneath this grime and slime,
you have a whole lotta love inside.
(Photo of a mural in Philly from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance)
Garbage piles up on street corners, you can smell it
everywhere you go – a trash crisis, another effect
of the pandemic, giving the town an apocalyptic feel
as we deal with a failing economy, killer virus,
foreboding sense that we’re plunging into an abyss –
but excuse me, miss, we’re resilient, us humans,
even if rubbish surrounds us and the president astounds us,
we find a way to keep the faith.
(Photo by chris liu on Unsplash)
The people in this apartment complex are so nice!
They smile, ask how I’m doing
I can tell they mean it by their bright eyes,
gentle body language, the way they speak of
this complex as a community.
But why does it seem so strange?
Behind these pearly-white smiles,
are they planning my demise?
Was it your fate to be imprisoned here?
You sit in the lotus position, clear your mind,
practicing techniques The Collective taught you –
remember that Project Z must be defended,
Portia will penetrate your puny brain, drain
your memories to catch a glimpse of vital data,
the antidote to utter control over Techno-City.
This bookstore is a place of dreams and wonders:
step inside, be transported to worlds both earthly and intergalactic,
away from a hum-drum existence, into something sensational.
I’ve been writing a series of poems that are inter-connected around the same narrative. This series started with the poem “Portia,” which was published in Bewildering Stories and which I’ve posted on the blog.