Inspired by Thelonious Monk’s Jazz Standard “Round Midnight,” Harlem Round Midnight Intersects the Nightlife of a Working Class Father and Unemployed Stepfather in Harlem.
Joey Alexander’s performance of ‘Round Midnight truly captures the melancholic aura that haunts Harlem’s nightlife. Harlem ‘Round Midnight depicts how one can only dream of day when surrounded by addiction and class struggle.
Almonte’s visuals highlight the true protagonists of a capitalist society. The lumpen proletariat. Or the Rag class. The unemployed, the homeless, the sex workers, the drug addicts, the hustlers, the starving artists. A story told in this perspective humanizes these people that we often scoff at. We can see them with dreams and families. They strive toward happiness just as anyone else, pummeled by the circumstances they were born in.
Here’s the poem written by Jeffrey Almonte
Before the bright and early,
the darkest dreams more punctual.
The early bird catches the worm
but not if devoured in the owl’s hour.
Round Midnight’s Rennaisance:
beat fathers carry bags on their eyes
and veins in their hands blink
to flush the heat of day.
Suitcase soldiers off the crosstown convoy
C.O.’s pass and CO gas
hisses in the face of homeless veterans
as the convo leaves.
A loud stench and a sour sight
kushion the jagged coasts of K2 Island
While half-conscious coastguards taste cracked cement.
Pocket full of dreams;
wallet full of nightmares.
Harmonies of 8 bars,
measures by the kilo
symphonies of car horns
at clicking heels.
Chorus of left-panned
orgasms under the bridge of pay-for-play.
Right ear deafened by the call of wives
and abandoned children.
Sons leave while the
sun grieves another work day
to rise…once again
above the leaves
… of fathers–
beat dead by day–
Some dreams never end.
The night sweats faces–
in evaporated moonlight.