Where Does Philly Stop?
If there’s no picture perfect skyline,
is it even Philly anymore?
Even if the schools are the same,
cockroach stuffed and lackluster,
educating only that education isn’t worth it
when it’s all for show to earn
money that the mayor now borrows from mystery sources
because we weren’t good enough to earn it.
When you and all your friends get scattered,
lucky enough to get out of the borders,
because here your C is a one way ticket to burger flipping,
but a C there is penn state admission.
Does it stop being Philly enough with the crime rate?
When there’s no more gun shots?
When you know who mugs you,
cause it’s just a way to bully you?
When your dealer’s just another kid,
a high school dropout, in his parents basement?
Where the crimes are committed by drunk teenagers,
and the cops let them get away with it,
cause they’re never gonna make it,
might as well have fun before they got their own kids?
How about how we act with each other,
is it a different Philly then?
When the neighbor girl is crying,
since someone killed her boyfriend,
and your whole family’s there for her,
is that any different,
then how anyone in this city would act
if someone they knew was hurting?
Does Philly stop before it’s close to the edge.
Because the kids across the street got it better,
more money, nicer houses, that don’t reflect
the side of the street still in the border,
where the houses are old and meticulously kept,
prided in despite the too hot summers, and the
Where the basement floods a little, smells a little,
the mold might make you sick a little.
Does Philly stop cause all you know,
are skyscrapers and corner stores?
Because you’re all about Philly,
as long as your friends back home think,
it’s all h&m’s and police alerts.
Does it stop when you don’t know,
or don’t share the part that looks like
every other rundown working class suburb,
in your hometown?
The part where you know how your life’s gonna go,
move two blocks away from your parents.
Even though it’s just as real,
is it not cool enough, or tough enough
for you to associate it,
with the city you adopted?
Beauty of the Week
As an urbex photographer in Philadelphia, I find all sorts of interesting things in the buildings I explore, such as this door with these magazine cutouts. The photographs and their connection to the idea of “grit and beauty” are self-explanatory. But they do more than express the juxtaposition of grit and beauty that we can find everywhere in our city. They are a metaphor for the changes our society goes through. Photographs like these would not be found in magazines and other media formats today, as our views of women have moved in a direction that is farther from reality. This building was only vacated in the early 2000s and these photographs can’t be much older than 19 or 20 years old. But it’s incredible to see how much our society’s ideas of what women “should” look like has changed. It is also amazing to see how much a building deteriorates and changes in a decade or two. Philadelphia’s countless abandoned structures are artworks waiting to happen.
somewhere in philly
A vine of morning glories grew out of the broken
speckled cement in the empty lot where men beg
for change and cars blow the light, where
the stray cats piss on the couch without
cushions. The lily climbed the braid
of the chain link and no one watered it
but the rain and no one tended it but
it budded and at dawn the blossoms unfurl
even if no one is watching. And at dusk they
18th and Diamond- Kyle Powell
18th and Diamond
Barbed wire spirals around the top of a fence
The overgrowth of dirty weeds became quite dense
The vivid colors can take you away from this block
Make you see pas the dirt between cracked sidewalk
The green as neon as a Friday night on South
A blue royal and majestic as one of the rivers’ mouth
Highlights the message and the cartoon drawings
But turning away from it we hear calling and bawling
“Defend the Future” it says in green block letters
Staying strong on the corner no matter the weather
18th and Diamond amidst both student and local
But the Jetson’s motif is what makes it so vocal
Painted by the students, the youth of this city
Who could imagine someone so young making something so pretty
Going to the north end is not a safe place for us all
But despite our fears this message stands tall
walking in philly / the Alley / Pressure Point
walking in philly
is Philly beautiful despite its grit?
is there just enough heart and art
that the stains can’t hide it
and when walking down the street
you see the gorgeous classic facade
of that row home-hidden underneath?
or is Philly beautiful because of its grit?
is the roughness around the edges
what makes the city so legit
unique, lived in. you walk around for a day
and find eloquently cracked pavement
and ephemerally alluring alleyways
is it both?
Being alone in the city is unavoidable. Everyone has moments in a back alleyway by themselves, whether it’s a familiar or unknown place. Whether we realize or not, we all know the surroundings of dumpsters, sewers, graffiti, rust, and silence where we can have our thoughts to ourselves with the backdrop of the city giving us the freedom of anonymity.
There is a moment you feel. It is strong your first time here. You are just filled with adrenaline in your guts and you hear everything: the yells and beeps and even the humming of the fluorescent light. It’s a pure instant of pressure. The first time it feels like an uncontrollable wave and you are scared-what if you miss it or mess up somehow? You’re on your own. But eventually you realize that it’s a tornado and YOU are the eye of the storm and learn to drift calmly through the chaos of the Broad Street Line and appreciate what you see for what it is.
A short film of a foggy day in Philadelphia…
Eastern State Penitentiary
Erie to Cecil B.
Erie to Cecil B.
The pungent smell of urine and trash crept up my nostrils
As made my way down three sets of crumbling stairs
Into the cold underground.
Loneliness and his friend Fear tickled my neck
Dark faces kept quietly to themselves
An old drunk man teetered along the edge
Loud rumbling of steel on steel clambered past
Rushing wind gathered my hair
The metal subway came to a screeching halt.
The doors invited me to enter.
I sat beside a large black woman,
Wearing a pair of bright pink scrubs
Littered with plush teddy bears
“Does this train stop at TempleUniversity?” I asked
“Yes,” she smiled
“Thank you ma’am”, I replied.
Her face balled every so tightly together
The faintest hint of her smile
Holding back the loudest emotion.
The cab of that bustling steel horse tossed me
Along its orange plastic seats.
But the woman sat still
Was it was her size?
Or the weight of her conscience
Holding her in that seat?
Staring into the flickering of the lights
As they passed steel beams and windows.
My stop approached.
The doors ushered me out
I turned to the woman, “Thank you ma’am”
Her face, so warm and gentle, replied,“You’re welcome”
A tear clung to each corner of her eye
So young they had yet to fall
I exited the train and took a few steps
Guilt grabbed me from behind
Eyes stinging with anguish
Each thought was like a grain of sand,
Sinking through an hour glass
My fists tightened,
Bone against bone
Stopping in my tracks,
I began running back
Through a crowd of unknowing bodies.
As I got there
The doors closed in front of me
She was gone.