Harlem (1965) West to East

All Poems Written By Golda Solomon. All Poems are Copyrighted and may not be used without written permission of Golda Solomon/JazzJaunts

Bowlegged mothers, sisters, aunties
Fallen arches, tired, blessed sleep
Only to begin again and again
Nurses and aids, scuffed white shoes
Outline of bunions and corns
Worn down heels, negotiating shifts
Big sisters pulling little sisters by the hand
Tugging at tight braids, pulling up socks
Knees buffed shiny with Jergens
Dispassionate parochial plaids of pleated skirts
“Don’t you make me late again for school”
Brothers trying to keep up
Clip-on ties, brigade of navy kites flying up Lenox Ave
Against a sky of light blue shirts
Oversized jackets and long pants
Get two years of wear if you fold the cuffs under
Bits of white fluff clinging to future afros
Book bags slappin’ against gabardine
Old men, stoop sitting bookends
Milky grey rimmed eyes and alcoholic egos
Early morning pints in communal brown bags
A lost sister, legs splayed
“Hey, gimme a taste man”
Scent of southern politeness
Rancid garbage
Underfed dogs poking into overturned cans
Bunches of fresh mustard, turnip and
Collard greens sold daily from the backs of
Trucks and station wagons “Fresh fish here”
“Those whitey owned markets show us no respect”
Wilted heads of lettuce dreams, days old passing for produce

Middle class high rise condos and coops
Butting against projects and boarded up buildings
Intricate brass doorknobs, remains of another era
Harlem Hospital, Lenox Terrace
History of a people on shelves at a collection called Schomberg
Get clean or high at the “Y”
Glassine packets of white powder
Folded green backs slipped palm to palm
Suited men hawking Muhammed Speaks and bean pies
Belly’s full of jazz, chicken and waffles from Wells
Minton’s open
Showman’s open
Gold Brick open
22 West where high collared preachers conversate
about the ‘man’, sports, latest politician on the take
“Hey girl, this slice of watermelon must be for one
of those puny pale guys downtown”
116th St. crosstown bus
Changing voices of puberty ranting “the dozens”
“Hey faggot” “Your mama didn’t think so last night”
Baptist Church mediates the 5th Avenue divide
Museos Del Barrio, a storefront on Third
Smells of La Marqueta
Bodega beginnings
Park Ave uptown is cheap chic
Clothing hung from high racks
Un-easy truce with the Po-leese
Knight sticks dangling off blue uniformed hips
Cars whizzing down the drive protected by an avenue named Pleasant
Highways and projects named after dead white presidents and generals
Patsy’s on First, pizza and old world dining
Kisses on both cheeks, jowls held by pinky ringed men
No Blacks
No Puerto Ricans
No longer safe
“Hey, ja hear, Frank was in the neighborhood”
Sinatra sighting at the Ded-lightful Coffee Shop