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Some say he arrived on a bat’s wing, stopping
here and there to nibble on a finger.
He swept into naïve airfields—
(Not his choice really but he caught the blame.)
Less than a water drop in a trade wind,
They asked if he crossed by accident or skill.
His arms were a shuffling set of gears.
His guts were a tangled set of springs.
His tenements were the tenements.
The cellblocks were his homestead,
the frayed fabric was a field for his needling.
The streets were not safe with him lurking about.
Far back in time we were the same stuff:
I was also spat across an ocean
and clung to the edge of an unwilling continent.
I set sail on breath, stopping my nose
against clouds of ground glass, kicked up by repeating
feet wandering this wasteland or that.
My old city radiates on maps like a hot blister—
its ancient security system is honed on foreign bodies.
Gloved hands were already itching for a cleansing.
Whole nations are waiting for expiration.
They’re shut in, sitting low, searching for a frame to look through—
We’re multiplying, changing shapes like a new country.
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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.
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