Gregory Pardlo: Fern Rock, Philadelphia

from “Philadelphia, Negro”

…A kind of religion to make sense of a past mysterious as basements
with upholstered wet bars and black-light velvet panthers, maybe,
but as such a youngster I thought every American a Philadelphia
Negro, blue-eyed soulsters and southpaws alike getting
strong now, mounting the art museum steps together
like children swept up in Elton’s freedom from Fern Rock
to Veterans Stadium, endorphins clanging like liberty-
themed tourist trolleys unloading outside the Penn Relays,
a temporal echo, an offspring, of Mexico City where Tommie
Smith and John Carlos made a human kinara with the human
rights salute while my father scaled the Summit
Avenue street sign at the edge of his lawn holding a bomb
pop that bled tricolor ice down his elbow as he raised it like
Ultraman’s Beta Capsule in flight from a police K9 used to
terrorize suspicious kids….

About the Author

Gregory Pardlo

Prize winner, 2015

Totem, received the American Poetry Review/Honickman Prize in 2007. His poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewBoston ReviewThe NationPloughsharesTin House, as well as anthologies including Angles of Ascent: the Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry and two editions of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a fellowship for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received other fellowships from the New York Times, the MacDowell Colony, the Lotos Club Foundation, and Cave Canem. He is currently a teaching fellow in Undergraduate Writing at Columbia University. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for his collection Digest.

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