“Red Philadelphia Years” by Carlos Jose Perez Samano

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Years like bubbles,
leaves, or cups.

Before Market Street
just a plateau,
back in time
those old trees
that now name
our beautiful streets.

1634,
Lenape woman,
an Armewamese one,
corn, beans, squash,
three sisters,
daughters of
Kishelemukonk.

1682,
cousin of William Penn,
son of two good Quakers,
also called friends.

Can you imagine
Richard Saunders
writing in his almanac,
words to the wise,
just to become Benjamin Franklin,
our first American guy?

Coming from Haiti,
1793,
a relative of Mackandal,
speaking only Creole.

Summer 1800,
slave 24 years,
from Cuba by boat
waits in Lanzaretto a month.

In 1849
the Moyamensing prision saw
how Edgar Allan Poe
tried to kill himself.

The same year,
some boats,
some Germans came,
the 1848 revolution ended.

By 1984 a guy from South Korea,
with a name hard to pronounce,
came after rolling for years
in the South Cone,
also called South America.

Coming from a wealthy family,
he became poor,
like an Allegheny or Kensington
meth woman dancing
without mouth.
Now his name is Jimmy Pak.

We all came
from different places,
and different times,
and here we go,
the years like empty drawers,
rusty dishes,
broken and dirty dolls,
pieces of me and you.

We all know that brotherly love
is a beautiful image
but Lorraine Hotel was full of stories
that we try to forget.

L-O-V-E in red,
pictures of Philadelphia.
with or without the hashtag
#love.

Philadelphia can be,
a nest,
a red brick,
some red
and yellow
and pink,
falling leaves,
touching lightly
the surface of the river
floating smoothly
through the small waves of
the Schuylkill.

And Philadelphia is
snow when it snows,
and heat like hell
if you don’t have a fan.

Years will come,
we will be gone.

But today here we are,
sharing this
Philadelphia year.

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Carlos José Pérez Sámano is a literary fiction and nonfiction author, teacher of Creative Writing Workshops in countries like Mexico, USA, Kenya, and Cuba. He has four published books, and is the recipient of the “Best Seller” award of Ad Zurdum Publishing House. His work has been featured in more than 20 international magazines like Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Errr Magazine, Quinqué, Poetry in Common, Cultura Colectiva, among others. He is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Publishing at Rosemont College. He will be published by Temple University Press in “Who Will Speak For America?” in 2018. Find him on Twitter: @carlosjoseperez
 

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

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