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Terence Winch

Yolanda Wisher: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Yolanda Wisher 1 by Taylor Baldwin 2019   web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________

5 South 43rd Street, Floor 2

Sometimes we would get hungry for the neighborhood.
Walk up the sidewalk towards Chestnut Street.
Speak to the Rev holding the light-skinned baby,
ask his son to come put a new inner tube on my bike.
Cross Ludlow, past the mailbox on the corner,
Risqué Video, Dino's Pizza, and the Emerald Laundromat.
The fruit trucks tucked into 44th Street on the left,
house eyes shut with boards, fringes of children.
Once we went into a store sunk into the street,
owned by a Cambodian woman. She sold everything,
from evening gowns to soup. Over to Walnut and 45th,
where the Muslim cat sells this chicken wrapped in pita,
draped in cucumber sauce. The pregnant woman
behind the counter writes our order out in Arabic.
We grab a juice from the freezer, some chips,
eye the bean and sweet potato pies.

Back into the hot breath of West Philly, sun is setting.
The sky is smeared squash, tangerines in a glaze.
Three girls and one boy jump doubledutch. A white man
hustles from the video store with a black plastic bag.
We look for money in the street, steal flowers
from the church lawn. The shit stain from the wino
is still on our step. Mr. Jim is washing a car for cash.
John is cleaning his rims to Buju Banton.
Noel is talking sweetly to the big blue-eyed woman.
Linda, on her way to the restaurant. The sister
in the wheelchair buzzes by with her headphones on.

One night, a man was shot and killed on this block,
right outside our thick wood door. But not today.
Today is one of those days to come home from walking
in the world, leave the windows open, start a pot of
black beans. Smoke some Alice Coltrane. Cut up
some fruit, toenails. Hold on to the moment
as if time is taking your blood pressure.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Philadelphia-based poet, singer, educator and curator Yolanda Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013). Wisher was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia for 2016–17. A Pew and Cave Canem Fellow, Wisher was awarded the Leeway Foundation's Transformation Award in 2019 for her commitment to art for social change. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry Festivals. She has collaborated with artists and organizations to create community-driven programs rooted in the practice of poetry as a public art, including a neighborhood poetry festival, literary takeovers of local museums, a series of poetry church services, and a poetic address to the nation. Wisher performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters and works as the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. [pronouns: she/her/y'all]

_______________________________________________________________________________________5 S. 43rd St  Phil.  Google street view


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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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