Sunday, May 10, 2009

अंकल अल Seven

Rain swirls down past fallen amber street lights
It's arc light dances with shadow ghosts
Rusted metal paint peeling
Chinese signs
Sway angrily like a tempest dance
Oil slicks glow brightly
Dancing in flowing sidewalk gutters
Stop light blares vivid red
Piercing a two am rain
Rain pounding on green tile roofs
Like rocks on tin
My Chinatown

Rain falls down like crystalline sheets
Curtains separating star crossed words
Three am, the neon signs scream out
Transformers hum through the steam
Steam from twenty four hour noodle joints
Dim sum and then some
Joints filled with well worn workers
Neon shatters the endless rain dance
No white man tourist walks Grant Street now
Just local between sweat shop shifts
The unheard song
No yuppies looking for sweat shop goods
No damn tourists staining my landscape
Just me, pork buns and the rain
Endless cold rain
My Chinatown

Steam sweats dim sum joints
Bakery scents fill the electric air
The old lady pads out of an alleyway
Click clack, her sandals sing to me
Echo down the ancient brick and mortar
Where her mother once walked
Feet on cobble stones
Well worn from years of endless toil
Backs broken
Spirits still strong
She shuffles with warrior's heart
My Chinatown

Rain turns to mist, masking my face
With a scent of far away lands
Old man, pipe in mouth, watching me
Gazing at me from a red tile perch
He is my wisdom
My ancient rock, of pillar
Upon which wisdom is carved
From raw stone finished in sweat
Comes a tradition not lost
From the alley
Darkness is broken
Reddish light cuts across aging worn brick
I see a ghost
Manong Al with knowing look
Penin hand
Thought in mind
My Chinatown

Dawn is near, Life starts up again
The seamless cycle
Night's silence shattered and broken
By old iron gates, sliding open
Crates of fruit stacked like bones
Bones of their ancestors
Al smiles at this
I walk among the Chinese elders
Different, yet we are one
My first friend, the old butcher
Smiles at me
Eye carefully the exotic fruit
With that knowing older eye
Eye of all Wisdom
Our eyes lock as sky turns to red
Our journey is together
My Chinatown

The air, cold, brushes my face
Like a ghostly tendril finger tip
Babies cry
Live chickens sing the executioners song
Mandarin and Cantonese all mix
Into a sing song sweet to my ears
A thousand sounds
Ten thousand scents
A hundred thousand voices
Paint pictures of the real life
Only seen in the midnight hours
In and around
In my Chinatown

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