From "Under the Knife"

What Philadelphia Is

As no one’s going to tell you,
Philadelphia and Los Angeles
are the same place. That’s why
the goomba princes rigged things
a long time ago to look a certain
way: “nothing’s happening here,
folks; this is the realm of the
underdogs, blue collar losers,
flatulent artistic mediocrities;
please pack your bags and head for
New York.” It’s all a decoy, and if
you run into an elderly matron in
a North Philadelphia slum and she
happens to be Vivien Leigh, don’t be
surprised. As for me, I’ve always
depended on the kindness (and blindness)
of strangers, hung back with the beasts.
Go ahead and open that window.


On his daily walk down Fayette Street,
he senses something he’s never sensed
before— space. With everyone cleared out
(into death, probably), he owns the ground
he treads on, and the space he takes up is
his own. That’s his compensation, as an older
man, for the misery and deprivations of the
Great Recession— space. He feels the cosmos,
how vast it is, and as he stands in a short
line at CVS to pick up his prescriptions,
the cosmos has in it something eternal, which
will continue with or without him, or us.
Emptiness is what you make it.