A Philadelphia Poem Trifecta. / by Birdie Busch

Bottle Dust

 There’s that saying,
“If a tree falls in the forest...”
but here there are no trees.
So how will we know when
there has been a casualty?

At what secret hour
are all these bottles smashed?
What point does the potential become the kinetic
and cause all this glass to turn into stardust
covering the streets?

Catching in my bike tires
like thorns and booby traps.
A farthest removed cry
from someone
amongst me.  

Huff’s House

I visit Bob
every couple months.
He lives up where the stadium used to be.
They would watch the game from the rooftops until that
became unwanted
and a huge wall was put up to block the view.
But eventually
superstition and the bad karma
of exclusivity
caught up
and the wall was taken down.

Now he just spends his time in the house with the shades drawn.
An oversize aquarium tank with a small single fish
percolates endlessly.

Viv, his wife, watches T.V. in the bedroom
unless there’s a church event,
and then she dresses to the nines
in crinoline and flowers.
She likes to say, “strange things happen everyday”
and I never can quite place the
emotional tone.
Apathetic? Dismissive? No.
Perhaps more hopeful for a miracle.

Their adult son
divides time between here and Corpus Christi.
Right now he is splitting it between the opposite couch
and going across to the corner store
every twenty minutes
the veins in his neck twitching.

He talks to his girlfriend
on an old model cell phone
and winks at me from across the room.
He says he knows about two things real well,
“police and women”
and that he likes the rain "cuz it keeps niggaz inside”
but he himself seems undeterred.

His 90 year old parents shake their heads.
Done with it all but
loving enough to let him have the key.
The screen door slaps behind his son and Bob,
sitting in silence
staring at the linoleum floor without looking away
“You ever know what it’s like to have a cow that ain’t got no milk?”


She would knock on
the door so much
that it became
part of the city’s rhythm
like car beeps or
sirens wailing

And often
it would be
just to see you
to observe you
the desire to laugh

A band of brothers
and a mother
wheelchair bound
living in the
public housing
on the corner

You’d give her presents
paintbrushes and paper
and she’d place her pictures
in her bedroom window
to catch the light

When you moved
she whined and put on
her best sad face
and that was that

Her knowledge of people
being there or not there
but her life
the distance of
the stoop to the sidewalk
and all the joy
she could find
in between