Down These Mean Streets
…YEE-AH! Wanna know how many times I’ve stood on a rooftop and yelled out to anybody:
“Hey, World–here I am. Hallo, World–this is Piri. That’s me.
“I wanna tell ya I’m here, you bunch of mother-jumpers–I’m here, and I want recognition, whatever that mudder-fuckin’ word means.”
Man! How many times have I stood on the rooftop of my broken-down building at night and watched the bulb-lit world below.
Like somehow it’s different at night, this my Harlem.
There ain’t no bright sunlight to reveal the stark naked truth of garbage-lepered streets.
Gone is the drabness and hurt, covered by a friendly night.
It makes clean the dirty-faced kids.
This is a bright mundo, my streets, my barrio de noche,
With its thousands of lights, hundreds of millions of colors
Mingling with noises, swinging street sounds of cars and curses,
Sounds of joys and sobs that make music.
If anyone listens real close, he can hear its heart beat–
YEE-AH! I feel like part of the shadows that make company for me in this warm amigo darkness.
I am “My Majesty Piri Thomas,” with a high on anything and like a stoned king, I gotta survey my kingdom.
I’m a skinny, dark-face, curly-haired, intense Porty-Ree-can–
Unsatisfied, hoping, and always reaching.
I got a feeling of aloneness and a bitterness that’s growing and growing
Day by day into some kind of hate without un nombre.
Yet when I look down at the streets below, I can’t help thinking
It’s like a great big dirty Christmas tree with lights but no fuckin’ presents.
And man, my head starts growing bigger than my body as it gets crammed full of hate.
And I begin to listen to the sounds inside me.
Get angry, get hating angry, and you won’t be scared.
What have you got now? Nothing.
What will you ever have? Nothing
. . . Unless you cop for yourself!