CHINATOWN

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From the harbors of Guangdong the sojourners crossed the Pacific
Reached the shores of Manhattan on their floating hells
Torn between two cultures, yet determined to excel
They lit blue gas flames under woks, working dead-end jobs
Ever slaving and saving in steamy kitchens and basement sweatshops
Clans and families worked together, trying to build a better life
You can break a single chopstick but you can't break five
Today the sons of paper sons fulfill their parents' dreams
Go to college, move uptown as the enclave's bursting at the seams

Look around in CHINATOWN, feel the danger in the air
The balance is disturbed, and mysteries abound
In a world where old and new collides and dreams are denied
Hear the sound of ancient voices, smell the sulphur in the streets
The old year is winding down, red shreds of fireworks litter the ground
But tonight the dragon's rising in the glittering heart of CHINATOWN

Start the time of the tiger with a parade of drums and dance
Pass out lanterns, orange trees and joss sticks for good luck
Hold banquets with dumplings, dim sum and Beijing duck
Hit the tourist traps and markets, play mahjong to pass the time 
Stroll down neon-splattered sidewalks near pagoda roofs and chimes
Teenage fighters roam Canal Street, led by brothers from Hong Kong
Watching theaters and nightclubs for gambling rings and tongs
Revolving faces, schemes and bribes control the bureaucratic rondo
As developers change the skyline from tenements to condos

Look around in CHINATOWN, feel the danger in the air
The balance is disturbed, and mysteries abound
In a world where old and new collides and dreams are denied
Hear the sound of ancient voices, smell the sulphur in the streets
The old year is winding down, red shreds of fireworks litter the ground
But tonight the dragon's rising in the glittering heart of CHINATOWN

Old folks remember the homeland, rice fields, temples, crumbling walls
Where foo dogs guard imperial jade halls and multinational banks
Forty centuries of culture, inventions, poetry and art
Silk worms and lotus flowers die, pollutants hang in the sky
Like the dust from nine-eleven drifting through New York

Look around in CHINATOWN, feel the danger in the air
The balance is disturbed, and mysteries abound
In a world where old and new collides and dreams are denied
Hear the sound of ancient voices, smell the sulphur in the streets
The old year is winding down, red shreds of fireworks litter the ground
But tonight the dragon's rising in the glittering heart of CHINATOWN

2013 Alex Schaetzing. All Rights Reserved.