Friday, May 15, 2009

अंकल अल Fifteen

Uncle Al Fifteen: The walker

The suns rises upward cracking shadows into dust
The shadows stretch like bones of a finger
Across the worn alley cobble stones
Crawling slowly
Across old windows stained with humanity
Stained with sacrifice
Mother gives to daughter
Father gives to sun
Unseen sacrifice
Stream rises, dancing gently in the wind
Rising from a manhole cover above the great unknown
The smell of a hundred scents run through the air
Faded Chinese movie posters hang from wall
Their edges tattered, their story still told
Against the faded green brick they sing
Of swords and death of dreams and hope
A thousand tales told within it's ink
Windows stack above the faded tin type ink
Windows in a forgotten alley
Faces look out from those windows
Their eyes spell out a cautionary tale
Of strangers in a stranger land
Of toil and sacrifice
Sacrifice for a better way
A promise of a promise
Neatly rolled into a warm pork bun
Dim sum for the then some set
A side dish of promise
Old men play cards, a back door game
Slapping cards down on an old wooden crate
And shadows fade into the mid day sun
A rat stops his dance
To contemplate the cards
The old men smile at this wise old rat
For they know the secret of the rat
He stands and watches, pen in hand
Ink in heart
This is his world, the unknown realm
Of peeling paint and broken glass
Of rusting metals and ancient fates
Of faces cut with wrinkles of age
His world of glorious imperfection
The alley bleeds out on to Stockton Street
Where east meets west
Where life meets fate
These are his Streets
The streets I walked as a young man
Before I knew him
The streets where my words came from

The day spins past in a circus of hustle
A thousand colors dance across the intersections
The language hums above the ebb and flow
Of life on life's terms
As day turns to night
Shop keepers, worn from toil
Blistered hands of hard luck
Members of the hard luck club
No joy luck here
Smoke their cigarettes as the day wears down
Worn like the alley cobblestones
Worn like the shoes of the butcher
My first Chinatown friend
Worn from the promise of a better life
The neon Chinese writing lights up Stockton Street
Dancing characters of glass
Red and deep blues shattering the night
The noodle houses open their red doors
I stop and stare
I am not alone
I see a man, face in a bowl
Pen in hand, a furious scribble
He is now one of the twenty ghosts
I know in Chinatown
One of twenty ghosts
Ghosts who guide me in my life
He is the walker
My guide to the unusual and unseen
He is the dancing spirit
My guide
My Uncle Al, Old Manong

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