In Philadelphia I see a death metal band
play in the basement of a Methodist church,
their hour long set full of songs about Satan.
Riffs and roars bouncing off the walls,
which are lined with holy scripture and
biblical pictures. It’s as strange as it sounds –
like Accrington Stanley playing at the Etihad
and winning, somehow.
I can hear it still as I walk the steps at Monument Hill
leaving downtown, which rises from the landscape
like a pimple placed on a pubescent cheek.
Philadelphia flat surrounding it, stretched,
a jigsaw when seen from the Liberty deck,
shrouded in black clouds creeping closer,
Casting shadows over the South city,
bigger than it looks, somehow.
The weather hits while I’m watching
from the top of the tower, and Philadelphia
is swept away, vanishing amidst it all.
Boathouse Row is lost to the storm, the Rocky Steps
grow slick and wet – no fun in running them now.
The Delaware River rises an inch, while
Washington Square Park threatens to sink.
I get home dry, somehow.
Back to my waiting Airbnb basement,
where I teach Koreans how to make waffles,
and watch TV with Whitney from Portland.
‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ – had to be,
playing until 3AM, when I retire to bed.
Drunk on one-dollar donation beers,
still trying to decipher the writing on the walls,
it makes vague sense, somehow.
The next day I take a tour of Philadelphia
visiting places I’ve seen on ‘It’s Always Sunny…’
Finding the original Paddy’s Pub and ordering
an unoriginal beer at an unhappy price.
Drinking for the luxury before lunch;
I’m always keen for an early start.
I visit the Liberty Bell and am underwhelmed,
it’s too small, somehow.
The crack in the bell is sealed with glue,
and the bells seals the city in history,
its past is the best that Philly can offer –
which is enough for a tourist passing through.
Not much else, except riverside baseball murals,
solitary skateboarding Jesus situated,
at the top of the famous Rocky steps still drying.
Drawing a crowd, somehow.
Philadelphia will always be death metal bands
and church basement crowds. Post-gig
cheese-steaks I can’t eat, the smell of them
swamping streets, while I opt for butter kremes.
Philly will always be memories of repeated
TV shows as the light fades on the day,
always of Whitney falling asleep on my knee.
– Surely this is, somehow.
Philadelphia, May 2016