Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Mexico City Meat Wheel



Is that the sound of crickets or millions of cockroaches?
That chirping...inside the walls like internal voices loud enough for the whole building to hear. Or maybe it’s coming up from the alley–a chorus of song to celebrate a vat of spent cooking lard left as an offering? 

Probably not. 


No handouts on these streets, but there is the sound of insects mixing with the sound of cars, metal clanking in defiance of shock absorbers and rubber, worn out disk breaks screeching like a Grey Whale that has just been harpooned. Sirens. Alarms. Buzzers. 

Mexico City night. 

The smell of industry and automobiles. Effluent rising from kitchen pipes. Rats big enough to eat house cats slinking across antique floors painted grey as the sky.
Jet engines roar overhead. Shots ring out. The neighborhood's "Bohemian" hipsters can’t be bothered with looking up. Same goes for the business man I saw at the outdoor cafe–the way his gaze did not waver from his beautiful target. Never an opportunity missed. 

More drinks are ordered.  


Lines are sniffed. 

The aroma of meaninglessness as potent as a cinderblock wall stinking of beer colored urine. A city built upon a drained high-country lake, rimmed by mountains made invisible by pollution, sinking from aquifers that have been emptied, buildings leaning into one another for support, and cracking from an Earth periodically trying to shake them off. 


Six different locks had to be opened to get into this room where I sleep. Burroughs, who took refuge in this neighborhood sixty years earlier, drifts in on the wind, animating the curtain hanging over the bar covered window like a ghost wearing a sheet. 
Kerouac too...his Mexico City Blues still as fluid as engine oil spilling onto cobblestone. This is where he first saw “The Meat Wheel” relentlessly turning, where I saw the meat booths this afternoon–a butcher stuffing ground up bodies into the intestines of another animal. It was metaphoric.


From the rooftop of this place there is cement as far as the eye can see. Yes, in the “better” neighborhoods there are some trees, sequestering carbon from the brown firmament but there's not enough of them to really make a difference. Still they produce pollen and seeds which are blown all over this city by the high mountain winds. As long as the pavement continues to heave and crack, as long as one little seam of bare Earth is exposed between slabs of cement, life may take hold and flourish again. 


This is what I try to remember between bouts of coughing.