A Night In Harlem
by Lana Bell
Darkness dives upon Harlem,
tearing off the moon from the knife-edged snow
splinters of gold bleed the ground,
and smear the lidded heads of thick human throng.
Set bay windows stack in symmetry under the
chalky flakes blur the cut-out frames,
glowing of scavenged light.
Tonight, the moon hitches on the back of sleep,
snagging flying notes ping-pong over from
the nearby Paris Blues’ bar,
where a drove of patrons loiter on pulverized sidewalk,
a ghost of mist snake round their scuffed boots,
as yellow cabs scurry upon potholed street, spewing an ocean
of acid rain.
A short-skirted dame tumbles out of a dark limousine
with spinning wheels by the loading dock,
a textile cloud of laurel green, champagne pink and licorice black,
struts up the steps,
trailing of perfume and sable fur.
Patting her puffed up hair,
tossing a hello at the bouncer there,
she digs through her long-strap purse for a pack
of Lucky Strike.
Cold air slaps wild and hard,
she lurches to cordon off the blast with her cupped fingers over
the cigarette, and the others flick fast on the flint wheel
it sputters then jolts to life in curious
states, part wind, part snow, part pitfall
the slim butt passes from stained lips
into deep smoky drags
then settling like a goodbye kiss as
she draws in the burned foliage of the evening,
tasting stale breath and hollow New York’s moon.