The City Never Sleeps

Painting: New York II by Castellon Richell

By 2 a.m., skyscrapers stand buck-naked
Laughing in mad sepia staccato.

We buried our fathers’ ashes here,

Now they rise against the night
Growing taller each day –

The city never sleeps, they say.

By 3 a.m., a million squares go out, only the ones with
the mad, the sad, the naked and the dead

Blink like dead-drunk fireflies –

Gee, says a merry tramp in moonlight

The mad, the sad, the naked and the dead
Are all alike –

By 5, the sky turns amorous mauve

Street kids with hair as yellow as shit
Cradled to sleep to cuss-serenades –

Frolic like lurid confetti in a wasteland
Pulling out strawberry condoms for fun

Remember, says the merry tramp at dawn

The mad, the sad, the naked and the dead
Are all alike –

The city never dies for a moment, they say

Only you do.

By 6 , the sun peeks into graveyards –
Startling estranged lovers awake

Pecking the bosomy housewife on lips,
Frying omelette-aubades for breakfast

By 8, everyone leaves –

To work, to markets, to other cities –

Leaving cool-blue tombstones muttering
Leaving itr[1]on bedsheets, steam in the shower, stains in the kitchen and bodies in the past –

The city never dies, they say –
Only you do.

By 8, few return –
Plucking the moon like a golf-ball,
Squeezing its flesh into whiskey-bubbles

Remember, says the merry tramp at nine,

The mad, the sad, the naked and the dead
Are all alike.

Froth in knife-thin glasses rise –
Pulp-posters on mottled brick-walls rise
The traffic, the yellow street-children rise

Neon-signs, parrot-green prostitutes rise –
Office-cubicles, ghosts, dust, skyscrapers rise
Mud-jargons, brittle-boned city-slickers rise

Only our shadows shorten each day.

Originally published in: The City Never Sleeps | Café Dissensus (cafedissensus.com)

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Ritoshree Chatterjee pursues her undergraduate degree in English literature and struggles to locate herself through writing amidst the chaos.

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Ritoshree Chatterjee

Ritoshree Chatterjee

Ritoshree Chatterjee pursues her undergraduate degree in English literature and struggles to locate herself through writing amidst the chaos.