by Crystal Z. Lee
She glistens like broken glass.
Collective voices howling like a madwoman.
Her mesmerizing makeup,
bejeweled evening dress,
captivating in each crevice.
Charred souls cross her borders,
hoard the nights,
taking poison by the pint.
She hides voluptuous vampires, ruthless zombies,
drowning in their deaths.
Floating in the flood
of avarice, ambition, arrogance.
Drunk on cash, sex, and lies.
She’s a pearl, unrivalled in its beauty,
tossed around by the French, Japanese, British, American,
abused by war, polluted from opium.
Bandits and barbaric men left imprints on her,
battered and scarred.
She’s a magnolia, a delicate sort of strong.
A hundred years on,
princess of pinnacle,
queen of the town.
Who could resist her,
when lights illuminate the Bund,
when jazz, illicit glances emerge from obscurity.
When torrents of liquid courage reached its zenith,
erupting in trembling, titillating kisses.
She could be your savior,
steal you away forever.
New York pales,
No, I’d rather die in Shanghai.
In her pool of lies,
hers pearls of poison.
Crowning capital of hedonism,
empress of the night.