There is the measureless madness of the streets,
That cacophony of horn honks,
The thick packed traffic I step through in staccato stops,
Backed up blocks,
Radiated by engines idling,
Hot and cancerous.
There is the smell, ripe, rich, revolting,
The contagion I haven’t caught from smashed up flat run-down rats,
The open sewers thick and threatening.
There is the stink and stench of it,
From dog-browsed bin pyres to lives led,
Exuberantly saluting the sickly sun.
The night drips down,
Black as my feet.
There are the shops and stalls that spill and slop,
Colourful, clamorous, blurring building boundaries till there’s no more in and out.
There is the ingenuity of survival,
The excess of plenty close pressed,
The places where everything can be fixed, found, portable, possible,
Deep fried, quick eyed,
Everything for a price.
There is the bark of vendors,
The tired faith of sidewalk sleepers,
Coloured flip flop memorials,
The fallen in dust and dirt.
There are the buildings that scowl down.
Old colonial ladies shamed by rain,
Mould blown, blackened,
Throttled in anarchic swags of irreverent electricity,
Bound, bashed up but still grand.
Here is the bare buzz of reality,
Ugly beautiful and sticky to the touch.
I perch awkwardly on a baby blue plastic stool.
I sip tea.
The pavement pushers jostle past.
I think of home,
Of returning to clean streets and order,
I feel a little sick.