Willie Perdomo reads

Poet in Harlem

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That night he went looking for
a poem
he left his electric typewriter humming
on the kitchen table
and ran out to the wide
sidewalks of Lenox Avenue

Aunties sat on their stoop box seats
mixing cheers and gossip
beers on the down low
With arms thrown to the sky
I celebrate a touchdown

A poet must look at the whole picture
One man’s victory is stalked by another man’s loss
The voice inside my head began to whisper:
          One of them youngbloods might grow to
          be a poet in Harlem
          Or the little brother who caught the
          game-winning touchdown might have to
          sleep in the street one day

That night he went looking for
a poem
he found two colors of love
A teenage couple embrace
by a bus-stop
I read his lips as they whisper
a sweet something into her smile
and that voice that never goes for a walk
comes to visit again:
           I hope
           their dreams
           come true

In one ear and it stood
as the poet turned the corner
He bumped into an ancient argument
Two fallen angels with scratched throats
pull and push each other
Ain’t enough for both of them to
get high tonight
Use to be
he would serenade her
under a clear moonlight
and that voice meets
him in front of the liquor store: 
             Ain’t no room for kissin’ and huggin’
             In the middle of the night
             When luck is hard to find

The poet came back to his
kitchen table with the last
voice that sounded like the blues
so he turned the electric hum into
this poem:
             Show me a woman
             who is strung out on love
             I want to support
             her habit