145th street


Mother Fletcher

By Tripp Shertenlieb

Full-grown Harlem lady
Eyes as black as night
If caught in a situation
Her decision would be right

Full-grown Harlem lady
Welcomes every child
If one makes a wrong decision
They will be reconciled


By Nancy Green

It was a bad day.
Big Joe had a bad idea.
He was going to ruin our street.
Big Joe is a bad man.

I will stop him.
I won’t let him do this.
Everybody will hate him.
I’m not just a little kid.
I am going to take charge.


By Bryson Vanlandingham

My name is Peaches,
I am not very fond of Big Joe,
I think my mother deserves better than a man with dough.
He is selfish, impatient, and acts like a child,
Even though he helps people, and he has a very big smile.

In The Morning

By Elly Herman

In the morning, I open my eyes
Sit up and stretch, and let out small cries.
I wiggle my toes, and crinkle my nose,
And get out of bed to the sound of rooster crows.
I slip on my jeans, and my long furry coat,
I creep downstairs and out to feed the goat.

The Tigros

By Sophia Daniel

They are dangerous and frightening,
Like a strike of lightning.
You have to watch out,
Because they can black you out.
You try to hold back,
Until the police come attack.
Watch out they’re coming,
Just like lightning is stunning.

Larry, 50

By Samuel Pankey

His music will dance around you
And pour into your heart
They will run around the rooms
And jump around the walls
He will bake his notes in emotions
For you to taste
You will never want to leave
His house of soul

Angela, 10 Singer

By Greta Pereira

Out of my mouth
Comes a beautiful song
All of Harlem
Sings along
In the church
Bells ring
Saluting our friend,
Big Joe, they sing
The world dances to
The sweet sound
The best is the
Earth’s pulse, all around
When I stop

Leroy Brown, 55 Band Leader

By Connor O’Brien

My pulse rises when we begin to play
“Amazing Grace” and “One More River to Cross”
This is where I belong
Playing with the All-Star Stompers all day long
I hope they play on my dying day


By Chris Farrell

I live on the streets
I don’t have a pillow or sheets
I’ve been arrested many times
All for stolen goods worth only pennies and dimes
I have to steal to survive
Even though I don’t really thrive
But I’m still me
And that’s JT

Freddy Deceased & Homeless

By Chad Roberts

Freddy oh Freddy
Is an alcoholic
He will beg you to lend him spare change,
To grab an ice cold beer at the bar.
He will never be quiet!
He is underground laying in a coffin.
Freddy oh Freddy.

Mother Fletcher

By Ashley Ruckman

My skin dark as a winter’s midnight,
Tiny body as delicate as morning light.
As worn as dusty books on the attic floor,
Don’t expect things to happen on their own anymore.
My eyes like coal in a lifeless fireplace,
Beneath a dark and bony face.

Poor Great-Great-Grandmother

By Calla Hinderks

A creaking windowpane,
Pelted with snow,
Reflecting light onto the dusty, deep brown floor.
The rooms seems to sigh, pained with age,
Abandoned; left waiting,
The cold is kept at bay by a single lamp,
Filling the small space with warmth.

Old Woman

By Greta Pereira

When I look at myself I see
Harlem reflected back at me
A great city with
A great history
When I look at myself, I see the roads I have traveled
To get here, and though they took a while,
In the map of wrinkles in my face

Growing Old

By Hunter Woosley

I used to be young,
Running around Harlem having fun.
But now I grow old,
And the angels are calling.

Time to go home,
Time to go home.

Let Me Show Me

By Bailey Reinoehl

Look at her,
I look at myself.
I see him,
I see myself.
I find what I want...
It’s not an option.


By Romila Santra

Mother is marrying Big Joe.
Why she decided to, I do not know.
Doesn’t she know,
She is betraying Father?
Doesn’t she know I don’t want to be a daughter,
To anyone but Father?

Peaches Jones

By Ciara Smith

Hey! You see that
girl? Yeah right over
there. Yes the                                pretty

one. Yea she’s pretty
as a peach on a large
peach tree. But she                        isn't

Big Joe's Fake Funeral

By Alex Pereira

Music Will Play
People Will Cry

But Big Joe
Didn’t Die

Restaurant owner

By Abby Headley

What makes me me,
Is the way I see things.
The happiness it brings,
That tells others what I see.

The way I see things,
Brings out the colors around us,
That helps me see clearer,
It also brings me nearer to my dear, dear friends.

O’Brien’s Gun

By Anna Castillo

A gun’s cause’s harm
To the innocent
And gives fairness to the verdict
It’s not really the gun but,
The soul behind the gun

Kathy O’Brien

By Alexandra Gordon

So much stress is on my mind,
she’s your daughter just as much as she is mine.
I brush her hair and iron her sweater,
when the winter brings such unfriendly weather.
You might say your work is rough,
well so is every day making our daughter’s lunch.

My Job: Will O'Brien, policeman

By Ryan Fitzgerald

I met a woman
Old as dirt
Yet nice as the morning sun,
Living where some considered
The worst part of town
Yet somehow
She finds time
To knit me a sweater
Of dark green string
Straight from the soul
With kindness from the heart

Officer Bill O’Brien

By Alexandra Gordon

My job is so exhausting,
I don’t have time for parenting!
Maybe my wife should try fighting crime,
and I can stay home all day wasting time.
All she does is cook and shop and clean,
I don’t understand how it’s difficult to do those things.

O’Brien, 35: Patrol officer

By Emma Van Lieshout

Walking up and down every street,
Every day – thump, thump, thump
Go my boots.

Walking past the park
Every day – thump, thump, thump
Goes the wino’s stereo.

Walking past Mother Fletcher’s house
Every day – thump, thump, thump
Goes my heart.

Steve Harmon, age 16: Prisoner

By Paige Breyfogle

They say they help,
They ain’t no good.
Ask for food,
Barely get kelp.
I wish I could just be
F r e e

They don’t believe me
When I say, “I ain’t guilty!”
They think I am filthy.
I wish I could just be
F r e e

Anthony Witherspoon

By Tori Shephard

Eating my thoughts,
Twisting my mind,
Her shadow passes through,
My words I can’t find.

She looks to me, waiting,
Her eyes pierce my heart,
I know what is coming,
I can’t let it start.

Lonnie Jackson

By Jacob McIntire

The days are piling up,
But I can’t move,
So little motivation,
Yet so much to prove.
I don’t want to be here,
But don’t know how to get away,
My only escape,
Is the game that I play.