Travelling poem

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Little Italy, NYC. January 2014

LISTEN

the heat and the rattle the grumble and groan

old city, smog and cigarettes

cheap labor on young backs and musicians dream of Beijing

My first winter, white on gray concrete city concrete steel glass New York can never be Beijing can never be New York

Railroads and 200 years infant city with grime, old city with legacy, blood and tears in June, fireworks in July, blood and dust

One square, one mausoleum, the other a thousand billboards and prostitutes leaning out of windows, artificial light

the glamour of high heels and dinners in hotels, bottle service by someone who’s only known the ghosts of a city that retains its young, tomorrow’s ghosts

Cities lead to more cities, more dreams, skies and horizons bearing generations of lost and found

lost and found

lost and found

lost and found

 

* I wrote this piece in the back of a journal on a train. I looked out the window and thought, cities are so alike especially in the generations of people who seek dreams and opportunities, interchangeable on the streets; Today’s grandpa was yesterday’s aspiring musician playing on subway platforms. One of my earliest memories was my first winter in Beijing. When I moved to New York, so much was different but as I got used to my surroundings, I am beginning to notice that things are more the same. The buildings and the landscape may be different but people’s aspirations are repeated. These days there is a high frequency of Chinese speakers on the streets, both yuppies and overseas high school and university students plus older generation Chinese Americans. I’m always nostalgic for Beijing since I was born there and have distinct memories as a toddler. The memories always flood when I’m on a subway, bus or plane and see the landscapes start to blend together.

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