the half ain't been told

the half ain't been told

A Poem by manchilld99

'...o' beloved harlem .... at the precipice of a brave new world"


you think you know? now don’ make me laugh

cause baby, let me tell you, you jus’ don’ know the half

bout fryin’ fried chicken in a pan of lard

and times bein’ tough, i mean so doggone hard

that you buy a chicken with feathers and eggs

an’ we even eat the feet after we eat the legs

when we eat a pig we eat his chops,

his ears, his tail, and even his hocks

and a southern specialty that we call souse

and chitlin’s whose smell lights up the whole house.

aunt chinky can suck on a dry neck bone

til the hungriest stray dog would just leave it alone

an’ ol’ man pop drags in wood off the street

to th’ow in the furnace for a little bit of heat

cause the coal man has passed us by today

an’ said no more coal till the landlord pay

so, no need for the iceman; just another bill

besides, we keep things cool on our window sill

in the summer the whole street smells of lye

used to clean the piss from the alleys nearby

now here come the wagon with melons and greens

onions and lemons, fruits, and string beans

‘watermelon!’ i got red ripe tomatoes

i got some good turnips, lady, need some potatoes?

here come the cutlery man to sharpen the knives

for the grocer, the butcher and all the housewives

an’ the music blastin’ from windows on every floor,

booming from car radios and out a barroom door

dance the bop, the slop, the camel walk, the chicken

to baby-faced doo wop and deep south blues pickin’

whilst campy hits two and jackie steals home plate

and sugar ray and the ‘say hey’ kid pack ‘em in at the gate

the packards and caddys prowl like big cats at night

prophets and mystics ‘teach’ under a street lamp’s light

preaching, ‘come back to jesus,’ a gilded tongue entreats

from a storefront church’s loudspeaker out into the streets

somewhere there are strivers, the betters of us all

on sugar hill, those with the skill to rise and never fall

the rest of us catch as we can, some live in desperation

kept in a jagged dangerous place by de facto segregation

but even just subsisting here, living from hand to mouth

we are better off " and we know it - than our cousins down south

‘i may be wrong but’ …. the apollo band plays

we don’t know we’re on a path to forever change our ways

we are the people, darker than blue, the chosen who perceive

a truth, a story one day we’ll tell, and no one will believe

i will never lose this spirit or forget the things that i

see an’ watch my neighbors do just tryin’ to get by

a movement begins, the a-train is rollin', we slap each other ‘five’

i’m talkin’ ‘bout the way it is, harlem 1955.

if you saw it on tv it’d make you cry and laugh

but they could never write this story; they just don’t know the half


© 2012 manchilld99

My Review

Would you like to review this Poem?
Login | Register


This poem brought me back to a day in age where I wasn't conceived yet, but I gained a very understanding imagination when reading this . This is pure genius in every line !

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


1 Review
Added on September 14, 2012
Last Updated on September 15, 2012



rochester, NY

I write poems and stories, and have broadcast a blues show on the radio since 1982. I am from Harlem, currently live in Rochester, NY, but have been around. more..

o' death o' death

A Poem by manchilld99