Lenox Ave. (February 3, 2020)

I wasn’t expecting the sound of seagulls

& water when I popped out of 2 train

at 135th Street

Randy birds mating,

attacking trash bags

outside of Harlem Medical Center

as I paced a few blocks

on Lenox Ave., also named

after the firebrand Malcolm X,

I wasn’t prepared for that

but where were the jazz greats

of yesteryear? I wanted my heart

& guts to be smacked shut

by their vibrato and music,

even on an early Monday morning

before the Research all-staff meeting

at Schomburg Center, &

their various bland bagels and croissants

but where Black History and culture

is still vibrant and alive,

where Maya Angelou

once danced upon the river-painted floor

that held the ashes of Langston Hughes.

After learning the subservience of slavery through art

& the photography of effervescent Black women,

I crossed 10 blocks on Lenox

to Red Rooster Cafe

with my boss, devouring

chicken & waffles

high as the fattest tower

on 125th Street;

we sachet our way back to Queens,

“Like a Natural Woman”

sung by the angel Aretha

led our way from blessed Harlem.

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