Manaus is bread baked at night and put down for tomorrow
Manaus is a bus without shocks either right on time or one hour late
Manaus is a woman that either brings joy or brings sorrow
Manaus is a mendigo sitting among all he owns in a gutter of spit and piss
Manaus is a thick-calved woman who thinks you’re Haitian
Manaus is her young son who thinks you’re Haitian
Manaus is the taxista who thinks you’re Haitian.
Manaus is the terminal vendor who asks where you’re from
“No Caribe, hein? Que chique.”
Manaus is the mother who smiles after realizing you’re not Haitian
Manaus is the young son who will never smile at you after hearing what his mother said about you
Manaus is a black carioca you met on a bus
Manaus is a black carioca you met at a pagode
Manaus is a black carioca you met online
Manaus is a tearful drama where all the black actors are outsourced
Manaus is a 24-hour clock of church services and BBQ’s
Samba parties in the roads
Loudened by motos against buses weaving with descendents of Indian tribes
Hair bleached, brown highlights, English t-shirts
Nirvana. Pink Floyd. Keep Calm and Exercise. I Love Beach.
Manaus is a hot walk to the main road; litter at the bus stop
Litter on the road.
Litter on the bus.
Little Children throwing litter through a window
Scrambling off buses
Walking through their fathers’ spit
Sitting on the ground in Centro
Playing with the garbage in a box outside their house
“Take off ya shoes when ya go outside so ya don’t get them dirty.”
Resting their sandwiches on a dirty public table. Mother watching.
Manaus is a boy who’s a man at 8
Manaus is a girl who’s a man at 8
Manaus is a full-time job for the unemployed
It’s a wake up at 5 with carts of scissors, extension cords and nail files
ABC books for children
Trying to get something sold before the sun slows you.
Children, with sneering eyes and wrinkled paper ask you for money to help their mother
Crippled with 4 children in a crumbling house
She needs help.
8 year old men with no shoes and chocolate-stained fingers and mouths
Snatch back the pleads of paper
And disappear into another crowd
Men in Jesus shirts hopping on and off buses
Peddling containers of sweets, treats –
Meant to heal sore throat, back ache, painful joints, relationship worries
And if you take two, they aid digestion
5 for 1 real
15 for 2 reais
God bless you sir, ma’am, have a nice day.
Manaus is a vest made in Taiwan with a Parisian price tag
Manaus is a city of hustlers doing their best
Manaus is a city of hard workers doing their best
Manaus is a city of Haitians doing their best
Manaus is a heat you get accustomed to
Manaus is a foot black from dust
Manaus is churrasco com farinha
Manaus is a long way from home
Manaus is small talk with the family of vests and slippers
Manaus is everything I didn’t want to learn