John Warner Smith

Harlem the Morning After

By nightfall Harlem knew
who shot and killed the prince.
Mayhem and Molotov exploded.
Billy clubs and guns whipped rioters.
Someone bombed a mosque
and blew its roof off.

The next morning, like dripstone
in a cave, icicles hung
from verandas and zigzag stairs.
Amber glowed in street lights
as frozen as the siren and bell
of a parked red pumper.

Inside that crystal crevasse,
on the precipice of a winter storm,
a steel door slammed shut.
Silenced, Malcolm’s words
soared from the bell towers
like a Sunday contralto.