Philadelphia Story

Originally posted 12/8/2011.

Overheard words
on a Philadelphia street
a toothless woman

a rusty gun 

Been quivering for two full days now
as I’ve tried to decide
how to steal and reuse them
in a context of my own choosing —

how to create
a suitable conversation
not slanted
to redneck imagery

Perhaps I’m quivering because
I can’t decide
why that was the first context I imagined
to fit those words

Perhaps that’s why I’m working so hard
to ensure that you know 
that I’m putting someone else’s words
to work for me

Perhaps because I myself
have grown toothless and rusty
by making the original conversation an evil to rail against 
I get to feel smiley and shiny again

Whatever the words got caught on
They landed in my ear
Now they’re trying to leave my mouth
and having a hell of time doing it

I don’t know where they want to go
Per usual I never even looked up to see
who in Philadelphia
was using them


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

One response to “Philadelphia Story

  • sanberdooboy

    I can see why those words would resonate for you. the poem shows that the street poetry you overheard was not a kind gift because you had to wrestle with how to use the words and not sound like a redneck. you address the reader personally, which also made the poem engaging. my favorite lines:

    Now they’re trying to leave my mouth
    and having a hell of time doing it.

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