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A Chinese Gollum squatting on a concrete stool
Savors a secondhand cigarette butt
And searches the sacred text of his racing form
For a path to redemption.

In a nearby meat shop, a bloody-shirted man
Mashes rice and grease into a styrofoam bucket
With his wet bare hand.

A small, bent woman with a broken flip-flop
Mines the rubbish cylinder for lunch
And aluminum cans.

The Pussy Cat Club illuminates its offer
Of young girls at cheap prices
As the first shift of high-heeled workers
Trudges upstairs.

An abandoned hand trolley
Piled with cardboard and garbage
Blocks the path to a fruit stand.

A legless beggar interrupts his kowtows
To re-count the contents of his cup,
But still finds only four coins.

Slumped against the 7-Eleven,
An incongruous Caucasian in a rugby shirt
Ignores a rat and cradles
A quart of Tsingtao in his lap.

A jaded whore-hawker in front of a topless bar
Lights joss sticks on the sidewalk
And summons old men to happy hour.

And when I finish this Tsingtao,
I think I’ll get up and go there
For some of that half-priced beer.

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