Cartography of a Broken Town

i. a city of stuttering street lamps, sinking paper boats & swirling streets, you were born into/ shadows possessed you till you laughed at your own reflection in a puddle of gasoline
ii. each night, the city grows fangs/ icy bone white/ scraping sky, bleeding wispy snow-cloud/ trees that bore your name disappear at night as if they’d never been there/ streets you whispered your secrets to, vanish under your feet/ you wake up in alleys that smell of the corpses of drowned child brides
iii. each night the city dreams/ you sometimes stumble into them, looking for yourself/ you walk down paths red as terror/ buildings welding into beasts from myth/ you run through nightmares where the clock has stopped ticking/ where red-eyed ravens tear apart sky-sea
iv. once you were the city’s heart/ ancient as the falling down houses/ raindrops glistened on crumbling stone/ wooden staircases creaked into dusty attic-heavens/ plaster peeled itself from walls spelling strange patterns/ you lost your heart in a labyrinth of lanes shaped like childhood/ found it in the secret lumber rooms of old palaces/you looked out of french lattice windows/ to spy bridges & war memorials
v. no one notices when you wander the neon-lit jingling streets/ cars & people trample your shadow without shame/ tears fall on the concrete, grey as your heart/ sometimes you wonder if you’re a ghost/ looking for the life you once wore with pride
vi. a century ago, thoughts were tangible/ you could hold the shards of a nightmare in your bare hands/ trees would whisper tales if you listened hard enough/ houses smelt like home/ you spy on the neighbour’s boy you never played with because our father’s didn’t get along/ you long to ask him if he remembers crows cawing people awake, sparrows bathing in the dust
vii. now, the city’s a blur/ the world shifts & sways/ dangling off the whims of a demented god/ people melt into each other, losing their faces & desperate hopes/ roads have long lost their histories, become slaves/ alien numbers & names are seared into their skin/ colours swirl & fade & blink/ new gods only dance, never rest
viii. ( this is your house, but not your home)/ you can’t find your city in the maps anymore
ix. the million eyes of skyscrapers/ like giant millipedes/ stalk your every dream/ the infestation festers/ metal mushrooms out of the holes in your soul/ the rain you taste is acid/ corroding your marble fingers into dust
x. memory is a downward spiral/ old goddesses die like smoke-rings/ the ocean-sky is now a thirsty puddle/ you wonder if it bothers the neighbour’s boy/ you wonder if he misses the sky, as much as you do/ the stars are running away from their constellated homes/ the moon who was watched the world fall apart, without heartache is too ashamed to show herself
xi. the starving river/ weeps dry tears/ once you could sing it to life/ now oil & grime burn into your stone-skin/ you are dying of some disease/ that is not love
xii. you didn’t listen when the trees whispered prophecies before dying like flies/ like terrified children confessing sins to the wind/ you saw yourself in a gasoline puddle/ & laughed at how much you looked like/ someone you hated
xiii. machines whir endlessly/ at night the noise of construction/ sound like a clockwork heart/ being torn apart, patched again & ripped again/ like some sisyphus

Archita Mittra

Archita Mittra is a wordsmith and visual artist with a love for all things vintage and darkly fantastical. She occasionally practices as a tarot card reader.