The Pleasure Givers
I see you standing in Thamel, Sukhumbit, Le Paquis
in pleasure lanes of Savay Pak, Point Road, Kamaliya
in the red light districts of Dashilan, DeVallen, the Deuce
wearing heavy make-up, in tacky clothes
looking anxiously into your tiny mirror
waiting for someone to stop and smile
I see you standing in Simalu, Sonagachi, Rose Street
in every season as it is always spring
I see you pulled into police vans, taxis, limousines
and dumped somewhere in Kabukicho, King's Cross,
Koinange, disheveled, bleeding
I see you at G.B. Road, Geylang, Halmtorvet,
combing your hair, colouring your lips,
lining your eyes, careening yourself
at Oranienburger, Barrio Chino or Vivian Street
occasionally throwing a slant glance at someone approaching.
I see an empty spot at Heera Mandi, Chow Kit,
Rue de Aerschot for days where you always stood waiting
perhaps you're in a hospital recovering
or in your village visiting your relatives
or at your rented shack resting in darkness
or perhaps rotting in a prison— serving policemen.
I see you at Mira-ri, Gurtel, Kamathipura
I see your soul being strangled every hour
I see you drinking hemlock as Socrates
I see you kissing death with your golden lips.
The pleasure-givers, I see you.
A Maid's Monologue
I am your djinn, I am your angel
I am your maid, I am your house help
I am your nobody.
I am a Latino, I am a Philippino
I am a Nepali, I am a Uzbek
I am an Indian, I am a Caribbean
I am an African, I am a Burmese
I am a Chinese, I am a Pakistani
I am of every nation on the Earth.
I polish your shoes, I wash your clothes
I clean your house, I cook your food
I press your garments, I water your plants
I mow your lawns, I tender your garden
I drive your car, I guard your property
I look after your children, I shop for your groceries
I see to your every comfort.
I live in windowless holes
I eat leftovers from the kitchen
I sleep on the floor
I am first to rise, I am last to sleep
I work seven days a week
I am always at your beck and call
without any breaks, I don't celebrate festivals
I sob at nights abused and assaulted.
I speak your language in smatterings
I only listen, you speak
I am dumb-witted
I am a half-alive robot
I am a still-born Cinderella.
I am a cuckoo that can't sing
I am a swan that can't swim
I am a tiger that can't roar
I am an eagle that can't fly
I am without a past and future
I am merely present.
I live unloved
I am an easy prey for you
my breasts ever ready to be suckled
my words— my silence.
My passport forfeited
my earnings withheld
my body sick, my hands rough
my feet full of cracks
my shoes old, my clothes torn.
I am chained to your monstro-city
back home, someone waits on the deathbed
to be fed, to be bathed, to be cured.
Someone waits for my last glimpse.