HONG KONG

 

           

HONG KONG (H) OURS

An afternoon Travelogue

I: (Causeway Bay, Noon)

The air here is closed,
Congealed and cut

Into boxes;

…...Aromas of piss, imperfection

And something sweeter; cured fish.

 

 

A junk on Causeway Bay, left to bobb,

Drawn to its spot by no anchor,

Sniffing sea like a stray cat,

As it skitters and spumes private drift.

I am snap-shotting cities in words

As they have far more scope than a footstep.

For tired feet, the mind travels,

Bestowing through ink, journey’s wish.

II: (On a Contrast)

 

From this wretched tangle of boats, the city blooms,

Steel bred flowers. A host of alien observation

And judgement as evidenced by their size.

 

One world replacing the last under acrylic cloud,

Dominating, while, beyond, ancient mountains

In mild repose cast their eye.

 

Gloss and construction, then rust.

Orange peel in the water. Along with spent tyres

Making harbours and pools. Substance rhymes.

 

III: (Exotica)

Studio 54 flower head, circa 1976,

Now retired. Masked by her parent leaves

And stray husband, all she has now is the wig.

She bows, glamour stooped, as her sister yields

To the climate. Her party, torn, she stays vibrant,

Red dreads dipped in dried drink.

IV: (Custom and Care)

Carry your child like a bag, or as a shield

Slanted on you; a flesh tattoo, sundered,

Or low hung guitar, sleep’s song spat.

No sense of occasion arrives.

The Taiwanese are all middle.

In the soup thick heat, even babies

Have throats grown old. Time feels fat.

 

V: (Sea and Sky)

Clouds are wantons.

Sea; tea. Thick jasmine scent from fish broiling.

The sky admits the procession

Of a Tai Chi state of air change.

Mountains cup the vast bowl of the bay

As a customer with soup proffered,

But the waves of air come to steal it

As gleam-fish snoop water’s way.

They scour the stone, quietly

As if negotiating a mortgage.

A place to claim. Its this network

That will outlast man’s exchange.

 

VI: (The Lost Crown)

The city competes with the landscape framed

To remind it

Of the former way;

Weather haloed by a crown of clouds

At the peak.

Commercialism now spreads

Across once sacred streets like a sickness,

While Gods strain to cure cancer

And the other ruins that keep mankind

Incomplete.

 

VII: (Issues from the Night Before)

From the primary forces that framed the once sacred city,

The modern codes have not honoured

Most of the appeal of the bay.

Inflexibility reigns, free of all explanation.

Something simply is. You won’t know it.

And so cannot forestall dictum’s sway.

 

Even the Taxis are the West’s opposite

With your fare dictated by the passing whim

Of the driver. Marooned with our bags

After midnight, my colleague and I

Chase the dawn. An Italian steps into help,

Like Charlie Chaplin approaching Ben Turpin

(Such was my rage) yielding triumph

After an uncertain role as fate’s pawn.

 

If Christ or Allah is here, or, for that matter,

Buddha, I certainly prayed they would save us

From the conquering heat and fixed rules.

The day is shrouded by mist

In the Shangri-La pressure cooker.

Baking hope that seeks freedom

And a return to the time legends schooled.

 

VIII: (As if Bidden)

On cue, the legend returns. T’ai Chi in a park space. An older man as a poem

Writing his prayer across air. Attendance to the force that once forged this city

And the nation itself rivers through him, as he swims through day with faith’s care.

One leg supports as the rest of him rises. He reads his Gods through his fingers

And the silent verse that thought breeds. Amidst the climate pressures and change

He performs for all weather and for all of that raging for us, which he binds and restores

To find peace. The body conforms. The body controlled.Age and wisdom, placed at once

In a painting of beauty and grace he can teach. I watch him. I stop. Trying to ape

His body writing with writing. The flow of these words a pale shadow to what makes

His stance in the light so complete.

IX: (A Wrong Turn)

Gloucester Road is the pit. Stench like an arm takes full nelson.

The street like a grimmoir that would stain a book horror shaped.

It is under this scape. As you try to dislodge yourself from the bowel,

The Kowloon streets are intestines. And along the route, bad investment;

The death of cheese and meat. Pleasure scowls. It is a bewildering place,

Alternating with beauty. The streets congeal. Each complicit

In a souring frequency. I long for air, my throat full, the heat its own vacuum.

Running free like the guilty, determined to find clemency.

X (Exhausted, with Dogs)

You can see more from one spot

Than on a vast sojourn through this city.

A congruence of dogs play mouth football,

Each spitting the object back as a team.

Their legs cojoin, as they forge a society despite owners,

More taken with sport and ball orbit

Than they are with their arses, or by any of the other plots

Sex can scheme. The dogs are proper acrobats here,

Their faces fixed on potential. Soundlessly, they are experts,

Never needing to bark. Balls are dreams.

The owner kicks the ball up, and the dog catches it

In an instant. To the sitters delight, its a circus,

An animal’s take on pleasure and life’s simpler joys

As they stage communion, entrancing us while they feed.

Then a clamorous pup in wheeled past

In a curtained baby carriage,

An orb of hound, or mutation,

Made perhaps when the owner craved

The canine moment too much.

 

Pride or protection displayed.

Rabies or reverence, brandished.

The dog has its day, year and season,

Rebirthed once more by love’s touch.

 

XI: (Rest from Walking)

Stay in one place long enough and the entire city comes to you.

Dogs, social values, menus and myths. Affluence, seen from boats.

Vagrancy, too. There are islands of shit in the water.

Gods lost and giant, hidden in mist. River ghosts.

 

XII: (The Air Waits)

You could catch this air, that’s for sure

And see it move in the bottle. In Hong Kong, humidity

Is a genre that infiltrates each aspect.

It reveals the heat of a sun that likes to pass itself

Off as something. Disguised, its glare garners,

Parades and then melts the suspect.

XIII: (Harbour Sounds)

The rattle of junk boats is complaint as they arc and dance

Through the harbour, celebrating cramped clamour,

The glamour they chase denies grace.

For these are ramshackle rooms, precariously placed

On the water. U-turns, upended,

They are untidy throats words can’t trace.

XIV: (Dogs 2)

They know how to treat their dogs here,

Walking back, I see how the dogs walk their owners.

A Pup is borne like a baby, a trophy of love, miniature.

A breast pocket, fur faced, honouring care’s outer essence

That is only ever partly glimpsed through expressions,

And as far as the dog is concerned. withheld slurs.

 

XV : (Back at the Hotel)

The newly showered guests emerge pink

And soothed and only partly evolved in the lobby,

Male hair slicked, fat trust T-shirts matching

Their best pair of trousers and wife.

A beautiful Taiwanese girl croons ‘These Foolish Things’

To a casio keyboard tempo; and all at once its a whirlwind

Of shaky pretence and half life.

 

The girl is beautiful, though, but who here does she sing to?

Only Fleetwood Mac on an i-pad can seek to contain

True love’s plight. Suddenly a middle aged Taiwanese

Couple stand and begin to dance very badly.

They move as automatons, free from music,

With a total misunderstanding of beat.

As if released from a box, they seem to enact

 

Known manoeuvres; it is as ridiculous

As its charming, their profound lack of rhythm

Its own inner bible, informing held hearts

And lost feet. As I watch exhausted, they seem

To contain the whole nation. Through their grace

Without glamour they are ancient and new

All at once.

They seem amused at themselves as they malfunction

Their way round the dance floor. A private spectacle

Offered as the last of the day subdues sun.

Soon I will be without time, having crossed all these time zones.

A thirteen hour flight back to Spring time in which I will lose

Another hour at least. After an eighteen hour day

Without sleep and a further flight behind me,

I have been emptied, but will be marked by their dance

And this heat. The couple have found happiness,

Their lack of conformity became noble.

They will represent Hong Kong rising despite past defeats.

The rising sun slides all the long way back into darkness,

As Cities seen in a day’s space seek to become poetry.

Precis’ of place, a lack of permanence soon translated

 

Into lines like this, which while hasty

Seek to enhance, inform, and release.

 

XVI: (Before I Go)

I swim in the roof level pool.

Immediately, it starts raining.

Sky hung low, earth ascendant,

At the point they converge, man’s remade.

 

Across is cloud, like white ink,

An immaculate stain on horizon,

And one of the only points at which writing

Is not the movement of ink, but of page.

 

David Erdos March 29th 2019

 


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