Street Balconies Can Cry

a small breeze blows through his cerulean sweater

as he stares off into the distance

the dancing lights below

the fire escape

lean under his weight

i see him

at first he is steady, Herculean

imagining the jump

All at once he crumples into himself

like folded paper

back against the wall

he screams

burying his face as tears race

drowned out by the bustle

the pedestrians shuffle

through intersections, restless

they glide about oblivious

as just above them a man’s love dies

The bricks nick his sweater and I want to comfort him

to brush down the stray hairs with wet fingertips

it will get better

His lover peeks

out of the shadow

sneaks onto the ledge

to whisper a liar’s prayer

and hope that he isn’t there         crying

i need him

they meet

words pass silently and all at once

the sad eyed blue of the brown man



from what i could tell from here,

all his heart feels

the carnal cardinal red

of the lovers


hangs into his face

shading his shame

i should help end this



underneath the fire escape



Philly Story #5: Falling

it’s cold out here

i lost my token

forgot my change as i stepped in

missed the bar as the bus jolted forward

and was heading to the floor with my face

when an older man

concern in his ebony eyes, and

gripping his cane, gripped my arm just as hard

i didn’t fall that day


Philly Story #6: People

People don’t always avoid eye contact

They look out

for old neighbors friends

a public reunion on transportation

when a fights breaks out

we all acknowledge each other

stuck in the thick

of the city


Philly Story #63

Herbert Holmes is


he heaves heavy bags of trash for food everyday

hunger scrambling across his tongue

less homes than people

houses hollow of happiness he hollers

he mumbles then

humbled and homely

his Heavenly father is the only one to visit him on the streets

huddled against high-rises,

underneath society’s hazy gaze

Maybe he hates or waits for

a harbinger of humanity

Herbert Holmes is hopeless

but no less than a man

so why do I hesitate,

feeling helpless

Philly Story #1

Why would he do that to me

knowing I’m out on parole

Yeah the white boy

Stealing ice cream that I offered to buy


I’m going to have to kill him in group tomorrow.

Philly Story #389

The sub rocks me into a slippery self consciousness

So me and Marley fold into my seat and start jamming

We jamming

Blasting through the microcosmic speakers

 riding each lazy beat with euphoric glee

when across from me

this dude twists up his face

the other passengers scramble

like frantic cockroaches about to be smushed

I look

300 pound bowling ball of a man stands with a gun in his hand

waving as if he was princess Diane

I dam near lose a bowel movement

Tripping over people to get to the exit quick

What kind of shit is this that I just witnessed

I was trying to get to work and handle my business

Now I got lateness all on my plate

Damn. It had to be today.

Philly Story #7: Poker Face

See they was giving out iced teas

you know how they give out free stuff sometimes in center city

i had a bunch of iced teas

and wouldnt you know it

i have to pee again

i done peed four times already she said

burning green hazel pupils

searching for sympathy

white wrinkled caramel skin

i went to the library, peed

down to the um PECO, peed

in the Burlington Coat Factory, peed

and just before i got on

this bus ride so doggone long






Philly Story #15: A short fiction

A small hand reaches up, searching for a warm grasp, only to be jerked down the street. Old city is flat and long, stretching along the water. The buildings are cursed with age, hence the name, yet people gather there.

imageThey shove and spit. They sing and laugh. But it alone, witnesses this child cry tears so heavy that she wades in her own sadness through the amassing crowds. Her slanted eyes glance at her father’s grip pleadingly. Across Market, down 4th. She wants to wriggle but that will cause a foreseeable rage with even more dire consequences than the paper stamped with the failing grade she clutches in her free hand. Her mother and sister, a spitting image of one another, obediently float behind them in silence. They are sheepishly pale but aware. Down 3rd. The mother doesn’t speak, but the little girl’s accent is thick as she audibly starts to cry for her father to let go. Wide eyes whisper for her to stop. Down 2nd. The city tenses, desiring to drown her in the river so her tears will wash away. It rumbles the subway devoid of trains. It flickers a lamp on the corner in the daytime in protest. It even ignites a cable no longer used by trolleys that’s hanging across the intersection. No one notices the city’s or the girl’s distress. They stop under the light. Somewhere a bus driver stops for an elderly woman as she hobbles to the bus stop late; a man robs a Wells Fargo at gun point; the theater packs in an audience thirsty for entertainment; but here, here a portly and distempered man, red with freckles that extend to his bald head and over his sharp nose, here this man, in a sweaty sports T-shirt, pulls a rope from his back pocket and efficiently begins to tie the weeping child to the base of the lamppost. She cries louder, and through raspy whimpers, manages to say, “I’m sorry.” No one notices. Infuriated, the city darkens the unusually bright sky for mid-Fall, and whips the wind into the man. Unappeased, he continues his work, stapling the test to her front ropes. “You will not bring another 66 into my house. Stop with all that crying,” he says. He steps back, surveying what he has done, then steels a watchful eye over the other two in the background. The city quakes.

The girl disappears into her own grief at public shame. She is the pig at slaughter. She is the geisha. She isimages the nigger and a slave. Diminishing into a place far from herself, her little body shakes with sobs. This place is somewhere between the hiss of a brand and the signing sting of seared flesh. It is hot and magenta. It burns with unrequited love, trying desperately to soothe the girl. She feels like she is everyone and

everyone is staring. But here is the only place no one is.

The concrete, to which the crowd diligently ignored, breaks open at the command of the city, unable to suffer her suffering any longer. The hole lunges deep into the earth, yet shines with an inextinguishable light, and swallows the family whole.

No one notices.

The festival goes on giving out beer and ice cream, cleverly packaged in Chinese take-out boxes. A man, dark and lovely, sings in the middle of the street, rather loudly and out of key, about his longings for egusi, salted plantain, and the Nigerian sun. He bounces there, thinking about his home while being a homeless American before the guards shoo him away. Women walk the streets in packs to feel safer. Men roam the streets in packs to look dangerous. A painter sells weed alongside her works from college, wanting nothing more than to make it to Amsterdam before she dies. And, a poet walks to the stage, stifles a nervous butterfly in his stomach, brushes his dreadlocks to one side, and stares into the lighted audience, faces cavernous and bright, searching for the red-purple inferno to comfort his sorrowful story.