What is Hanoi? Part One. Rooftops and Balconies

What is Hanoi – Part One


Rooftops and Balconies


Like Vietnam’s dirty laundry the air hangs in the sky

Covering the bikes, trees, children and lining the lungs of the infants

Empty beer cans roll around on my balcony from the occasional

Gust of wind

The neighbouring rooster clucks. Occasionally cock-a-doodle-doos

From the adjacent balcony in his bird-cage hell.

We talk to him – the rooster – we speak in chicken and he responds

The motorbikes hum up and down the alleyway

Down at street level the kids run, chasing rats

Cockroaches, kittens, chickens and dogs.

Moisture in the air constantly threatening damp

The smell of mould behind the bathroom tiles

Red-tin rooftops as far as the eye can see

Ho Chi Minh’s flag – red as a dildo in the night

Flaps a mile away next to the local hero’s final resting place.

Balcony upon balcony with hanging clothes, Bonsai trees and

The ever-present silver and blue tanks that sit on every rooftop.

Lightning rods and cell-phone towers jostle for position

In a city where the lightning prefers to hit people riding scooters in the rain during the insane summer storm season with all its torrential rain.

Massive flooding and an hilarious increase in poncho wearing.

Ponchos for bikes, double ponchos for families and lovers

Long ponchos, green ponchos, multi-coloured ponchos

with viewing windows. But, no helmets for the kids.

Just plastic caps – high mortality rates in the rain.

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