Photo by Jason Knott
Winter Place
by Genny Lim, from Winter Place

I live in this foghorn moon of a fishhole alley
Every night there's a derelict dog, mangy with a cataract stare
Lickin' the wounds of old North Beach
Leftovers, fish'n chips, upchucked cheesesteak, antipasti
Blasted against the antiseptic glare of trendy resaurants,
glossy Gelatos
Where MTV couples glide frozenly by
Catching in the corners of their ray-banned eyes
Their store-bought reflections

It ain't so bad
Sundry hookers straining their fleshbait
out of windows, doorways
Orifices of the Europa glistenging like fish
It ain't so bad
The winos and the refugees, bag can ladies and panhandlers
Eye-talians, Chinamen, tourists, punks, junkies
Boat people and runaways
Converging on this teeming waterhole
where the corporate buffalo roamed

The city reeks of crab shells, fishheads, cabbages
Soiled pampers, cappuchino and Kotex
in shocking orange-and-pink
Day-glo shopping bags ripped and spewing out the
Guts of Chinatown

They all come
The natives like homing pigeons
Midwesterners like homesteaders
Southerners like shipwrecked sailors
Eastcoasters like fugitives
Through the fog-laden cable cars plummeting
over Russian Hill backyards and
narrow chopstick alleyways
where camera-toting tourists
eat cheap chop-suey and
snap moon-faced babies wide-eyed on their mothers' backs
out of curiosity

It ain't so bad
the Indians once said
They traded their land for horses

It ain't so bad
the Coolies reasoned
as they jumped ship only to
Sweat in baskets
with pickaxes and dynamite
Twenty-thousand feet in the Sierras
like wet human laundry

copyright 2001, Genny Lim

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