Island In A Bubble

I never write about Hong Kong (where I lived for 2 1/2 years during my final years of high school – roughly four years ago),

I did away with my use of nature as a thematic or allegorical crux in this one,
I almost always write about figuring out my own psyche, whereas here instead, I unraveled the imagery in a reflection on the city’s historical context.

– Island in a Bubble –

Here, is the city of ghosts and ancient curses,
where an anglicised urban cityscape is carved and chiselled for 24-7 consumption,

at the stomach is the Victoria harbour brimming with chug chugging rickety ferries,
spewing out tourists, expats, locals and sullen teenagers,
pouring into Times Square in Causeway Bay
to gold-lined salad bars with high-stools and marbled-tabletops in Admiralty,
to Soho’s Lego®-layered restaurants,
to Central’s silver platter streets,
to the glistening heights of the International Finance Centre
in the throbbing valley of the city,
until night when the rooftop transmogrifies into an underage-party-making safe-haven billowing with smoke and cheap liquor bought from one of the countless 7/11 stores,

until Thursday night arrives with
ladies’ night free drinks and entry,
it’s free because you are the commodity,
the bait that reels in briefcases, swipes the platinum credit cards
and plaits the black ties tight around stiff necks with blinding-white grins,

at any hour there’ll be girls staggering in deceptive heels
up and down the mountainous hills of Lan Kwai Fong
navigating jagged cobblestones,
sidestepping tourists with cameras for hands
undressing women with macro lenses,
if you look even closer,
there are children playing alone in playgrounds nestled in the bottom of these bar-filled-hills,

just around the corner are the seas of midnight shoppers,
Gucci wearing roamers
stepping over those pushed into the gutters
glass eyes glaring into styrofoam bowls snatching up every last grain of rice with splintering chopsticks,
awaiting the morning rush of the fish markets
where more crowds slosh and splash through rotting fruit filled puddles in the cracked pavement,
winding through a kaleidoscope of horse tails, pig hooves, fish guts, bulls’ penises and baby turtles scattering amongst opaque plastic school-desk tubs,
while expats and tourists in wide-brimmed hats and fluorescent hues haggle street merchants,

“hai, luhksahp yuan”
“mhai, tai guile la! Tai guile la!”

bags of cashews and almonds and walnuts,
spikey pink dragon-fruit sliced to reveal the Dalmatian-seed speckled insides
golden starfruit sliced and sealed tight,
to a resounding ca-cling, zip, click

“seisahp yuan, mh’goi”
“hai, mh’goi sai”

the cobblestone valleys spill onto endless highways that imitate the Orbit city you saw as a kid on The Jetsons,
Ding dings (trams) connecting subways to trains speeding through underwater tunnels
connecting to artificial beaches on surrounding islands,
treading snatched-sand from Vietnam and Cambodia,
boundary nets stretching only a couple hundred metres out to sea
not to keep curious sharks and stinging rays from the bay
but to salvage the last drops of the sea that are not contaminated by unchecked tankers and stray rubbish bins,

it’s easier to drink another eighty-cent shot to quell the vitriol of your conscience biting you for robbing the street-side Buddha,
than to sit by the steps of your mind-temple and peer at your own haunted hands
to trace the truth buried within an ashen soul
that chose transitory vacancy and a wad of cash stashed in a high rise apartment building,
swimming in rooftop pools of locals’ sweat and ground-bones,
while the locals sell cotton t-shirts imprinted with “I ❤ HK” to those who trample the temples and the trees.

Here, is the city of three-year-termers and a forgotten culture,
gobbled up by platinum card holders and a capitalist scripture

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