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.