Hi Harlem #24 - 26

#24 Under the Elevated Railway Tracks

In the plant nursery a muscular Chinese man
balances on his right hand a tray of miniatures
as he walks among the cactuses and hyacinths
in the rumbling shadow of the scheduled trains.
He brings me back to Kunming, the acrobats
climbing up one another, the strongest lifting
clear the other two, a trinity exerting pressure
at every point and achieving a momentary rest.

I see him and I see you look at him, his shorts
round and covered in a pretty pattern of ferns,
his big arm lifting the greenly growth for home.
You walk ahead to sneak a peek back at his face,
I following. It’s a good face, strong and open.
Love, do you hear somebody call out for Adam?

#25 Leave from Harlem

Setting his triangular speaker on the train floor,
the man does not blast but croons into his mike,

making love to the dark glasses on a Roman nose,
the gold chain round a throbbing jugular, the phone

lighting up a face with radiation, the bandaged hand
resting on a hard case luggage bag. Without losing

a beat, the singer lifts his tin trumpet, blue-green,
and speaks with dispassionate objectivity

 of a reconciliation between us and things. The chain
falls off. The prodigal phone returns to the pocket.

The kissing bandage removed from the wounded hand
for a sign of things to come. The singer toots his horn,

 a calling heard on many trains leaving from Harlem.
Sometimes it does not work but sometimes it does.

#26 The First Three Months

We’ll remember
the nasty neighbor who complained
when we moved the first box in,
who gave us to understand she’s on the board.

We’ll remember
discovering the church on our street
has saved its black

We’ll remember
buying local and the strawberries
looked so fresh but were not.
The milk sour.

We’ll remember
the first people who stayed with us, your sister,
and brought back the first pleasures
of Harlem Shack.

We’ll remember
re-drawing the ground plan
 of your New Delhi project
over and over and revising my Harlem poems.

We’ll remember
the French restaurants run by Haitians, Senegalese, and Burkinabé,
and so many
salons for braiding hair.


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