Imagine a city with no streets
but networks of amputated limbs.
An officious city of criminal investigations
and inquests whose soul is a square of cheap,
and a water dispenser.
The tinkle of pachinko,
the sudden sirens of attack.
Those women with the hand bills,
so stubborn and intent upon their mission,
invading the bodyspace of the factory workers like an influenza.
Sheets of steel carried by a dozen men at a time
towards the railhead.
Rain in bursts of noise upon their heads.
Somewhere there is a map of the city's improvements
but no one I speak with has seen it.
Wheelchair-bound ladies protest at
the new constructions rising up around them
in terrifying spirals.
No-one is allowed to see them.
Behind their riot shields,
the policemen are only boys.
Some of them wear white sneakers,
as if they have been called in from basketball practice.
Sleeping street people
curled up like scraps of paper
on the subway stairs,
trusting that the spirits will protect
their small change,
their street salaries.
Mandarin peels in the gutters.
Sewer smells that hit the face like a nervous pigeon,
the frightful proximity of disease.
A hollow city,
stained with sad skirmishes
and pickled fistfights.
Gouged-out eyes that speak.
Tables hoarded under orange shelters.
Old men dancing in parks for citizens,
while other citizens peer out at the sky
like lost kittens in bamboo.
News of another separatist attack filters through
stale cups of coffee,
cigarette butts neatly stacked like bullets.
A simulated odyssey through virtual historical battles
gains popularity in the parlours.
No one speaks of it;
these things require no advertisements.
Beware the reconstituted cutlets of crumbed meat:
that way annihilation lies.
Pull back the tarpaulin to reveal today's wares—
a rack of twisted and burnt squid,
dried suckers and flattened jerky.
Remove hospital identification barcode.