1. Leave the rush of cars
and blush of neon
to enter into the hutongs*.
2. The smell of grilled meat,
3. They own almost nothing,
yet they smile more freely than the
dyed and gilded images of beauty
that own it all
4. Had jiaozi and kao rou chuanr^
with the sounds of men dining out,
children crying in the distance,
and Chinese opera from the boombox.
5. A shrine made of hell bank notes:
The elders gather around - white-hooded -
As the paper altar burned.
The shreds of ill-placed hope - some still alight -
circle up five-hundred feet
to 'nourish' long-dead bodies.
*hutongs - a type of Chinese neighborhood characterized by poor dwellings with narrow walkways
^jiaozi and kao rou chuanr - Chinese dumplings and grilled meat on a stick