Colours Of New York

Torrents
hammering
on our heads
we run from yellow cab one to classy showbiz restaurant

Torrents
along gutters
across roads
shoe-wetting
sock-soaking
trouser-splashing
torrents

streams
rivers
of rain
in unexpected lunchtime cloudburst
in busy downtown Manhattan

Yellow cab two
that evening

Three guys crammed on back seat
willing the driver
beyond mugger-proof barrier
break free break free
from snailspace traffic chaos
caused by flooding
determined to reach the theatre
for which we have three tickets

complimentary

Paid

yellow cab makes off

But our theatre is
"Closed due to flooding"
and we

are in the middle of black Harlem

not a good place

for three young white men
in the early 1970s
even if we are liberals
and supporters of black freedom

black equality
even black power

The streets are deserted

No cabs

The streets are deserted

No people

Fortunately

As we stride out

Hurrying
but trying not to look as though we are hurrying

Scared
but trying not to look as though we are scared

Talking of other subjects
to stop from feeling scared

Looking round for signs of danger
but trying to look unconcerned

Down the long road
that seems never ending
towards the nearest Metro station

We aren't scared, are we?

Why should we be?

We aren't pigs, rednecks, oppressors, exploiters

But do they know that?

The few people on the platform
do not approach

but we feel safer
only when the multi-ethnic multi-coloured graffiti-covered train
draws in

and we are on it

pleased to see
the macho-looking cop stride through

gun on hip

there to deter
crime and violence

in the city of crime and violence

himself a symbol of pigdom and white oppression
to those who feel oppressed

Sharing Chinese meal
laughter just a little shrill

we retell for our now amusement
or relief
the tale of our escape from Harlem

Without sounding prejudiced, of course.

by Roger Hudson

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