here, where the tarmac is cracked
and faded, non-descript
crossroads where all journeys converge

makeshift metropolis of ramshackle shanties
lean-tos, Quonset huts, wigwams
pup tents, soapboxes, rumors

this is where tumbleweed gathers
jostles, rumbles, jumbles
disperses again

city of orphans, day-laborers, sisters of mercy
men without qualities, women of ill-fame
stranded, confounded, huddled, befuddled
empty pockets, open palms, godless, good-for-nothing
manhandled panhandlers, shooting craps

refugees from the shakedown
unshaven associates of the breakdown
toothless phantoms, con-men, clowns
mercenaries, money-lenders
pitching pennies to pass the time

here, where we plumb the shallow squalor
where we reap the fallow fields

listening with autistic rapture
staccato testimonials breaking through the static
six billion solitudes assembled

sojourners without names, histories forgotten
unmothered trespassers bereft of language
mute grunts, frenetic gestures
passports expired, all flights cancelled
heavy weather
destination unknown, of dubious origin
circuitous itineraries, aimless desires
mumbo jumbo



Nicholas De Genova is a cultural anthropologist and urban geographer with a focus on migration, borders, citizenship and race. His academic writing has been widely published. Visit his website.



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