The City is Trying to Eat Me, But I’m Hungrier

Ansel Guarneros
Sep 12 · 5 min read
Photo by Jonathan Pease on Unsplash

I moved to a sleepless city
that knocks on my door every night
and waits in the cold for hours
because I never open the door after 10 PM.

But oh, the city is stubborn,
and keeps knocking
because she’s hungry
and wants to eat me
just like she has done with many others.

I arrived here one morning
with lots of bags
and even more dreams
but no one to help me carry them
because I came all by myself.

My family has never left town.
My friends pursued other dreams.

The door of my new apartment
has a sign that says “welcome”,
and that’s the biggest lie
I’ve ever said in my life;
truth is, I live in an impenetrable cage
and I don’t want anyone to enter.

I lock myself up so I can’t run away,
If I go out
I will end up wandering the streets,
or lost in one of the arteries
of this giant piece of concrete.

I don’t want the city to swallow me
and turn me into one of the lines
of some zebra crossing,
or have my hope eaten in one single bite
and transformed into fear
or carbon dioxide.

I don’t want the city to make me feel
that my hope is a rat,
a rat that survives by eating the leftovers of a rich family,
thinking she is happy
because she doesn’t really know
what it is to be truly satisfied.

I don’t want the city to tell me
that my site is elsewhere
as there is no place here
for someone who still thinks life is good.

Every night I hear the city knocking on my door
making a hollow sound,
and that just means
whoever knocks has nothing inside;
and that just means
I’m afraid of something
who has nothing inside.

The knock-knock of the city
makes me spend the nights in silence
with my eyes wide open
to not miss anything.

I started to think not with my head
but with my elbows and my legs
because thinking with my mind is exhausting,
and know I’m so tired I can barely move.

Being this tired
makes me think of absurd things.
I think, for example,
that one day I will go out to the street
dressed as a clown
and I will not make a fool of myself.

After all, you can’t be embarrassed if nobody knows you.
And I hate that.

I think, for example,
that I’ll walk entire blocks with no one saying hi to me,
not even a simple gesture with the eyes.

It’s sad to know
that loneliness is noticeable in the eyes
of people who don’t say hi to each other.
It’s hard to say good morning if you’re not having one.

I think, for example,
I will go to the supermarket
and there will be no one I can meet,
say hi to him, talk about work,
tell him that I don’t know
whether to get white bread or wheat bread;
I think, too,
that I will pay with a bill
and the guy will give me my change in coins
but my niece’s little hand won’t be asking
for some of them for the candy machine.

What are coins for, then?

The knock-knock of the city
made me use catastrophe as my pillow
so as not to be amazed when misfortunes occur;
now it’s normal for me
to feel a little lonely,
to be afraid of not waking up
and my body ending up rotting with no one noticing
until flies call my body home.

I’m worried
about doing a thousand different things
and still, be bored.
It destroys me to do nothing and still be tired.

How easy it is for me to think about returning.
Getting home, my true home,
where there is no one bothering
with her infernal knock-knock
that causes my hair to bleed;
where I can truly sleep
because there is nothing to think about,
or go for a walk
with no fear of my house burning down
in a bunch of flames
that I’ll have to put out
to save the books I still haven't read.

It’s easy to be the victim
and let the city win.
It’s easy to tell her
that my hope is not a rat,
that the rat is me,
and I’m afraid because once
people wanted to hit me with a broomstick,
and I went into the wall
through a small hole
that is now my house,
and I have not left ever since;
It’s easy to tell her
that ever since that moment
I’m afraid of the broomstick
that she uses every night
to knock on my door.

I’m afraid to open the door
because every time I let someone in,
they leave by themselves and never return.

I wonder how many more
are in their rooms, quiet,
thinking they are the only ones
whose world is falling apart
and have no one to hold it with;
people who stare at old photos
believing that life is in the past
or somewhere far from here.

One day I will run
looking for all of them,
and I will enjoy running
because I will no longer be listening
to that sound in my door.

I will run and keep running
because I now have the power of countless nights
of not moving at all;
carrying all the weight of the knock-knock anxiety
eventually made me strong.

I will not hear old people yelling at me,
asking me to stop;
I will not see the cars
getting in my way.

My ears will get used
to the city sounds
for it to be harmful no more;
I won’t dive into the misery
that the city will try to conquer me with,
nor will I stop to see the display of people
trying to eat each other.

The city always wins because we help her eat us,
but the best thing we can do is eat her instead,
and transform her misery into joy and delight.

The city ​​wants to eat us, but we are hungrier.

I will run
until I get to those who are alone like me
to tell them to come to my place
whenever they feel bad,
so I can use the “welcome” sign on my door
for what it was originally made.

I will ask them to allow the dreams
that keep us away from home
to keep us alive;
to allow our dreams
to make us come out of our cage
so we can fly
like a rat that discovers it has wings
and it’s really a bird.

I will knock on their doors until they come out,
and if they don’t open,
I’ll wait all night,
every night,
in the cold,
until they realize how good is life,
or until I realize
that perhaps,
whoever knocks on my door every night
is no one else
but me.


Stories that matter. Emotion first and foremost.

Ansel Guarneros

Written by

Mexican-American lawyer, researcher, and writer of poetry and short stories.



Stories that matter. Emotion first and foremost.

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