north of batavia, south of heaven

i saw a lot of death.

start at the coffee stall

that sold breakfast

of dark brown broth

in a pan

chicken necks

yellow tumeric-y skeletons

of fish

all over rice.

only the rice was alive

steaming like the garbage dump

next to us.

the men ate quickly

“drink! give me drink!”

a man in green AP boots shouted.

he didn’t have time to eat.

another man put a chicken neck in his mouth

kept talking to his friend

and little pieces of bone

fell from his mouth

to the wet black asphalt.

everything stank of rotten fish

the sleeves of my tees

the coffee in dirty glasses

the sky.

no time for table manners.

then we got on the boat

sat at the back we looked some more at the blue sky

reflecting the blue paint of the toilet door

a square hole really

it too painted blue around the edges

to frame the black water underneath

we saw fish

floating

light as crisps

belly-up

near the surface

it’s funny

we live to stay afloat

then we die

then our bodies float

then we don’t have to try to live anymore.

but tell that to the fish

they’d spent their whole lives trying to go

under the radar

and now they’re dead

and no one wants them.

and all this is just for starters

one clear morning

at the old fish auction

north of batavia.

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