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The police are here. They lock me in their icebox
and taunt me with blurred photographs
of blond glasses of water. La vérité, they say.
They demand les cheveux bleus. They whisper, Sale minet.
A rug molds in my mouth. I say
I don’t speak French. How may I be of service?
They spit into porcelain lenses,
rinse my eyes with kerosene.
The concierge slaps his skinny thigh, offers me
red lids; he covets my clean cheek.
I carry the general’s baggage, he tips me
over the balcony. What do you see? he shouts.
I socket the jaguar city; I inhale the capital
of swans. "Tits," he says, and smiles. He gives me twenty
and a kiss.
At night we roll out the bloody carpet,
we swallow each other’s wrists. The guests
like to hear our jokes–they pat our heads
and show some skin. By dawn I am my trousers.
The concierge leads me to the roof, he shows me
eyed and grimy stars, commands My hero, close your eyes.
I hear him lick his lips; I smell the city’s oil;
I touch the tar of childhood. I’m in it to my knees.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.