My last Poetry Jam was as successful as the flying of a plane made of wheat, but I decided to give it another go. This time, let's try a much different angle.
My world bleeds away as I turn down a side-street into Facet City. I recognize the dishevelled architecture and the fractured roads. Gaudy neon lights from the shop windows and the pale glow of streetlamps show me around the labyrinth. The broken children running through the streets remind me of brighter days. The broken men on the staircases remind me of darker ones.
We call it facet because that’s what it is – mere aspects thinly woven together to give the semblance of a home. We damn it and curse it. We spit on its broken windows and its broken people. We hate its lack of maintenance, the paint peeling from its walls, the rusted pipes feeding into the buildings, the death-rattles of its air conditioners, the smells of drugs and raw sex and fatty foods invading the nostrils of the everyman.
I like it here.
I like Facet City because the food is cheap. A few coins can buy me my dinner, a curt word here and there can save me from being swindled. The food is bad; spicy and oily, overcooked noodles with undercooked meat served in lukewarm broth with cold vegetables. Ah, the sweet smell of starch impregnating some horrible braised beef and salad combo. My subhuman server slides a silver-tinted salver under my nose and I feel at ease.
I like Facet City because the movie stores here are legion. Rare imports from the dark corners of the earth line the shelves – every genre, every type, every quality. Where I like to go, a twisted old man sits at the counter, his twisted nephew in the backroom burning DVDs on one laptop and playing 1980s soap operas on another. I buy a stack of horror movies and kung-fu dramas and leave before they think I’m a cop.
I like Facet City because it’s sincere. A bar-fight spills onto the street uninterrupted. The bums are out in their Sunday best. Cardboard signs next to street kids demand money for heroin. Pigeons hang from the wires. The dogs are feral, the cats are beggars, the rats are legion, and a cockroach runs for city counsellor. The honesty here is refreshing.
Beneath the pink lights of an old building, a policeman enters, led by an auburn beauty smelling of desperation. A woman looks my way. Broken hands part split hair to show a shattered nose and a dislocated smile. She asks me if I’m going anywhere.
Sorry, sister. None of us are going anywhere.
I have my fill of the shamelessness and call it a day. I cross the street and make my way home, and as I do I breathe in. I take in the smells of blood and come and coolants and burning fat. I listen to a glass breaking across a man’s jaw and the banter of its residents. I taste oil in the languid air.
Until tomorrow, my love.
See you next time,