I DON’T HEAR CANTONESE IN CHINATOWN ANYMORE

I hear tourists whisper, with the shiver
of a cheap thrill,
about driving down that strip
on East Hastings
windows up doors locked
past boarded-up bakeries and empty apothecaries
dried shrimp just don’t sell
like they used to
the city knows
where we spend the night
drinking our Postmarks and Thirty-Threes
our powdered noses on dirty keys, dancing
at parties in sweaty
streets with real character and grit
so we can tell stories
about living on the edge
stories we rented with
fifteen-dollar cover
and vodka crans
there are devils
in this city
worse than you
devils in suits that speak your language
claim they fight for beauty
while smothering a culture
with a 1600-thread-count pillow
the city sees them too
this city speaks veganese and venti
a prefab vocabulary born of
swallowing its history, with new money
in its teeth
this city has no mother
tongue
this city speaks only
one language
this city sees you

still

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