301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


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Harlem Nocturne

From The Great Black North, published by Frontenac House in 2013. Teeanna Munro is a spoken word poet, storyteller, educator and learner. She lives in Montreal.

 

Oh Man!

I can still remember the very Night

when I first heard the Harlem Nocturnes

I can still hear the music

 

It was a Friday March 1963

I can remember the month

because I just moved in from Oklahoma

and the forecast was

COLD

colder than a lonely woman in heat

 

and man was I hungry so

I headed to a slick chicken joint

on the corner of union and main and

 

from three blocks away

I swear

three blocks away

my frozen ears were thawed by Vancouver’s own

Thelma Gibson

 

sweet to the ear singing

I got it bad and that ain’t no good

and you know she don’t lie

because in that moment

I had it bad but it sure felt good

 

forgetting my hunger pains

I went to where I could get some real satisfaction

343 East Hastings Street

The Harlem Nocturne

 

and that scene was Thick!

for three dollars

you were guaranteed a good time

 

no liquor

but everyone was still

lookin’ good ’n actin’ bad

just sassy and struttin’

that joint was jumpin’

 

soft lights

smoke filled air

heavy with fried chicken

you don’t even need to eat

for that smell was so thick

it made you full

 

footprints painted all over the ceilings

I remember thinking

this place must be hot

because these dancers

ain’t got no boundaries

 

The Band

Ernie King

Mike Taylor

Chuck Logan

that place was alive

floor dancers dressed to the nine

 

after all my years at Harlem

all I can say to you is

there was laughter

man there was always laughter

just thick and light

 

So in the words of the Great Ernie King

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s all y’all”

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