52nd and Spruce
allison whittenberg

An old man sits on the cement stoop
of the storefront
while Fred strums the strings of his guitar
with the tips of his
still nimble fingers
at the end of his song
he passes his hat, saying
'You don't have to be
to help a fella...'
Meanwhile some other brother
from the kingdom of heaven and earth
hands me a flyer
like I'm really interested in the final call

Sisters wearing majestic robes
offer me dark wood statues
oiled with sweet perfume
in this loud market
their incense competes
with the musky smell of
sizzling barbecued meat
these women tie their hair
with bright printed cloth
yet it is the girls
with more than braids
on their heads


A Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her other novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored and The Sane Asylum.