Already flashed my ass on Houston Street today.

(a sweet, elderly, black woman with a walker 

mercilessly tugged my skirt down; thank you Ma’am)

before Phil drank his Breakfast of Champions drink

(pineapple juice & vodka)

and signed his new lovin’ coyote book: Hooray the hero!

I already traced my steps before,

to the Library Bar on Ave. A,

trying to remember that magic night years ago

before Sister had a kid,

but the bar looked different in the mid-afternoon light—

It was so empty with dumb-looking hipsters—

and the grocery store across the street 

reminded me of the UWS

with its various goat cheeses and specialized sushi—

this is not the LES, man!

Let’s sing of gut sandwiches here and drink Stella in the dark

among dozens of stone-cold groovin’ friends

as New York continues to get real, 

dancing between old and the new realities 

as our long, black skirts stay up

on a sunny winter’s day

without you noticing (at first).

When evening comes in like a casual bandit,

when the kids fill up on 2nd Ave.,

the new bars here now 

are a grey, pale shadow 

of the dive bars of the ‘80s,

and more new, soulless glass boxes

are built here, with crippling 

rent hikes & mortgages, 

shutting down the heart 

of the neighborhood,

as Phil’s stories of Blondie & Boho illustrate, 

these wild coyotes

still try to survive here, 

even in these dark times.

Please wrap me up

in an audio cocoon;

warm my silken threads

by the morning light

as I hear 10 versions 

of “Good Morning”

jamming from my

new Skullcandy headphones,

or soothe me to sleep

at midnight;

Cover me

with a dozen curling branches

that sing 10 versions

of “I love you”

as I gently rock

in the tree.

My new wings are still wet

but you can still

hear me sing away—

my chosen lullabies

are tinged with Soul

as my voice 

grows into

a deeper chocolate 

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.