City of hunger and dirty palms. City of manicured lawns and torn shirtsleeves. Evening yawns, the comforting sound of soccer commentary like little grains of rice on a tin roof. City of red meat patties and yellow potato pancakes. City of invisible beggars. City of cigarette survivors and pitiful shrouds. Well-to-do media students shoot movies of fictitious street vendors pulling barrows and wearing ghost masks. Oblivious, the city’s sprawl of empty threats swirls around them. They are in the eye of the western dream. Strange scruffy bums viewed through full-length mirrors terrify the burgeoning fraud classes. Beneath the unnecessary expressway overpass, girls in short skirts wait for pre-destined but still unknown tricks. Eternity is a flattened cardboard box in the gutter. Birds with jagged blue wings like fighter planes. Fighter planes like the ones that flew over the opening ceremony. Text messages alert the stone throwers of the likelihood of a demonstration. Embassies issue alerts about bird flu and the likelihood of police violence at demonstrations. Demonstrations come around the rotary bends like turtle boats heaving to, fire spewing from the megaphones, banners and placards the iron shell. Foreign troops roam the city centre, their shaved heards like soccer balls. Up above, the mountain loses its leaves like a balding man. I am the opposite of my own name. I haunt the sleeping hours, feeling the cold draught on my feet, my pulse racing with sickening suddenness towards a conclusion I have no word for yet. I have already packed my bags. A long line of imaginary cities stretches before me, like a family tree in reverse. Must I populate each street with more than poverty? Must malnutrition be bartered in exchange for nuclear security. You’re out of your head. The delay on the line bounces between capitalistic continents with greater speed than the man selling bananas can imagine, though he owns a phone. It’s only for receiving calls. It never rings. Birds bomb the innocent. Money strafes us all.

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