Cities pretend to sleep.
They fool us.
In the deep of the night,
a city is like a kindergartener during nap time —
fidgety and mischievous.
When Tokyo’s trains shut down at midnight,
far from hibernating in suspended animation,
the city traps people in a dimension
that most people never see —
a headachy, eye-rubbing,
land of waking dreams.
The day drizzled on and off into the night. Dreariness seeped to a cold-soaked bone. And I was schlepping down that saturated sidewalk, feeling like I was being watched. That cloud rides overhead when one haunts a city that hasn’t another soul in sight. The denizens must be somewhere, and some must be outward-facing. They might be in the shadowy maw of an alleyway or watching from the warmth and anonymity of a darkened room, but the city never went without eyes.
This was the throbbing heart of the city — if, also, the darkened heart of the city. Within a two-hundred meter radius hemisphere of my position who knew how people were seeking heat? Some would be wrestling away from dank recessed pits in the backrooms of minds run amok. While others were in the act of surrendering — plummeting into that dim pit with abandon. Who knew what was happening? But — for some reason — I had to believe that something was. As I pressed a palm to a wet stone wall, feeling for the trace vibration of hyper-living, I had to believe that the perpetual city was still wound.
any city you enter after dark
will not reveal itself until the morn
you’ll see it like a scrawny sheep unshorn
vague blankness punctuated by landmarks
you’ll see nothing in the darkness of parks
not junkies sprawled out in clothes, rank and torn
though you see neon twenty-four hour porn
you’ll know not the dogs by their noisy barks
light makes it more pretty and more ugly
you’ll see it pick itself up and brush off
like shame walkers concoct a makeshift coif
turning focus from the bloody and stubbly
to see a city at its worst and best
catch it when it’s wearing last night’s dress.