(1) Falling Out and In (3/7)

“A life of wisdom consists of constantly being engaged in letting go.”
Francisco Varela

Irish and Italian Americans were starting to leave
The diversity was gone.
The trickle of job loss was gaining momentum
And before long West Philadelphia
Was hitting hard times.

There was plenty of blame
For the decline.
Too much of it fell on one group of people,
But as the neighborhood slid down
So did the reputation of the schools.

Those who fled the city had their reasons for letting go
Those who stay had their reasons too,
Sometimes the choice to stay was simply easier.
The universities claimed savior,
But only so far as it helped their mission.

Little was happening outside of the hallowed grounds
At Penn and Drexel.
It seemed that education’s grand mission
Had been let go too
For no level took responsibility as a social hub for the community.

The fate of West Philly rested in wildfire management
Where the city seemed content
To just let the area burn itself out.
Proud, but tired, West Philadelphia High School
Stood tall at 48th and Walnut.

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