If there was ever a Parallel Parking Olympics
it’d be in South Philly
cars jam into microscopic spots
enough to cause anxiety
but you, with your back-up camera
squeeze in like it’s no big deal
this shit is real!
parking spots are like gold
circle the block like a vulture
starving, on the prowl
maybe you’ll get lucky
find a spot front-and-center
(Photo by Cali Riffee on Unsplash)
Cindy parked her work truck in the shade by a McDonald’s and took a big bite out of her Quarter Pounder. Her lunch breaks were always interrupted by phone calls — the endless calls from dispatchers. Today was no different.
When her phone rang, she turned down the Brad Paisely song on her radio.
“Hey, sunshine,” said Marcus, the dispatcher. “Feel like catching any more dogs today?”
It wasn’t the call Cindy wanted to get. But at least it wasn’t the call, the one she constantly feared getting.
Who is behind the curtain?
Is Portia a super-intelligent AI autocrat –
or is there a murkier figure behind her avatar
hidden in dank data centers of Techno-City?
The neighbor talks to me as she tends her vegetable garden –
she talks at me is more like it; I hardly get a word in, you see.
She says, “All Lives Matter;” I bite my tongue,
let her ramble, not knowing what’s bouncing in that brain.
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)
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)
We hide, strategize in the shadows of
the Techno-City, away from Portia’s
prying eyes – don’t worry, you’re safe here
from the tyranny of technology.
The soul-snatcher glared at me from the dusty street corner with fiery orange eyes, his hands cupped over his mouth because of the early morning cold.
I had been out late that night, and I was returning home a little tipsy.
“Hello there,” he said. “Looking for your fix?”