To Harlem, A Letter Home (After Sekou Sundiata)


When a child is snatched from it’s mother’s bosom

It cries

It screams for home

For comfort


Oh Harlem


I scream for you

I’ve inherited your shortness

In temper

In attention span

You never concentrated on much

For long

You jumped from


To Malcolm

All too quickly

But you’re reckless

With riverside drive

Sunsets for eyes

You glow


On lonely winter nights

The 125th street lights

Radiate a peace in me

The snow falls all over you

Making you cold

Shivering in your beauty

Beauty unparalleled

Beauty that’s fading

They’re trying to bleach you white

Wash you in milk

Trying to fatten you up

Make you look like you never picked cotton

From clubs through jazz horns

And upright basses

For a new york city master

That’s used you as

Breeding grounds for greatness

Ella sings the blues for you


Oh Harlem


You’re breaking

Stroke your naps

Only to come up with Biracial hair

In your fingertips

They’re kicking us out by the root

The Duke is losing his knight

Sharpen swords taken away

Only to be replaced by balloon animals

Armor by red noses and clown shoes

Apollo is weeping

He’s ashamed that in all his power

He is failing to protect his muse


Oh Harlem


I miss you

I can only find a trace of you wandering in

Hamilton Terrace

Between brownstones and history

Striving in rows of begotten memories



I will dream of you

I will envision you walking on water

Dancing to the Bep Bop rhythms that moved you

Once before

With grandma’s fried chicken in hand

And a wide set of hips

Across wooden project building floors

With open arms

And Christmas light smiles

Welcoming your baby naps home.


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