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why i don't live in harlem

harlem, because of the renaissance named after it, was the place of my childhood dreams. i used to think that i would live in harlem. when i graduated, i wanted to find an apartment in harlem, a first step to one day buying a house in harlem (that would be sometime after i won a pulitzer...)

well, in financial terms, living in brooklyn made more sense for me. they tell me affordable places do actually still exist in harlem, but they were not found by me. so i moved to bk. and it grew on me, tremendously. which, unfortunately, causes me internal conflict because i always have to remember that harlem, not brooklyn, was home to my dreams for such a long period of my life.

so i wrote a little poem, a tribute of sorts, to explain to harlem why i had to defect...


Harlem. Holy land.
Real estate crusaders
corporate raiders
swords for gentrification.
Everybody wants you.
Auctions and bids and
shady dealings for you, no
not corner sharks,
crack dealers, pimps
or jackleg preachers.
Realtors, contractors,
hungry Wall streeters.
Harlem. Holy land.
Everybody wants you.
Great Renaissance ghosts
of Langston and Garvey.
Grandma lived here all her life,
decades in this one railroad
apartment, railroaded
into cozy cabin in
Pennsylvania cuz that flat
is worth hundreds of thou and
she can't afford,
Harlem, Holy Land,
everybody wants you.
Like Jericho fell to the
Israelites who fell to the
Greeks, and the Romans,
and a people now named Palestinians
moved in, embraced Muhammad's teachings,
only to be invaded by Christians,
the Dome of the Rock,
the Apollo, Harlem,
Holy Land everybody wants you.
Millenia, and they're still fighting
for it in Palestine.
Tear down, build up,
renovate, relocate, and sweep
under the rug I only
respect grafitti artists
cuz Harlem, holy land,
if we can't have you,
someone needs to remember
we were here.

as always... i love love love your stuff... and you too by the way, although i haven't seen you in forever... i'm so glad you're putting yourself out here...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!
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About me

  • I'm call me aja
  • From nyc
  • 20something, black, woman, reader, writer, about to be a student again. i think i'd like to be heard (or read). child/grandchild of immigrant folk. yearning to travel. desirous of wisdom. a little bit ordinary, but working at being less so.
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