Uptown is slapstick poverty, drunk, misshapen, whirling towards
infinite jest, stench, crumbs in hands, coins in hands jingling like
sad maracas, shaking to the beat of the streets, shaking as penance
for unspecified offenses- for being born in the wrong place, the wrong time,
for drinking the wrong juice, the nectar sweet, enchanting, glorious
in its comfort, its understanding.
Uptown is rotgut. The fermentation of old hopes dripping down the el tracks,
slowly, almost oozing, secreting from the wood and steel, stinking like dried urine,
one hundred proof, enough to drown in the smell, to surrender, to lay back
in the alley and look up, squint, the sunlight laughing, sweat building up,
everything exposed, laughing, to lay back in the alley and give in, strong
enough to make you turn and sleep, dream with only the hope that this sun
is the last sun.
What keeps them here, the fallen angels? Worshipping under torn plastic shopping bags,
on their knees in the alleys, curled up on couches soaked in disappointment, in dirty
rain and apologies. Is it communion? A community taking communion daily,
one brown paper bag at a time. The hard stuff is candy compared to mirrors,
reflecting everything clearly, clearly broken, black teeth, missing teeth, beaten eyes,
Why Uptown? Why this death, this darkness, this hell?
Stop. Paint this picture, snap this shot, hang it up, take it in. Tell me again
about recession, the “recent economic crisis”, about bailouts, about loss, 401ks,
bankruptcy, mistakes, pain, all of it. Lecture me with this backdrop, the sun still
laughing, the smell of warm grease-traps swirling, look me in the face and say it’s new,
that this is only tangible now, that before we were strong, above the crumbled paper,
above shifting in the corner like a dog, ears drawn back, tail tucked down. If you’re
worried, if you’re desperate for something concrete, begging for stability, look
to Uptown. Always broken, always filthy, sturdy as a cardboard box, sturdy as a
dumpster, sturdy as a home.