Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Particulate matter spreads in the air into thin sheets
shaded by the orange hue of streetlights,
stretched into sediment over the corner where the sidewalks form
a right angle and twelve year old girls
ate watermelon and Trix flavored popsickles during vague nauseous
afternoons last summer.

But the only thing here now
under the albedo cloth
is a bunch of tossed cigarettes,
some scorched to the filter and others
waiting to get scavenged
by reluctant teenage boys
who will give a subtle look down
both streets
before bending down in their sagging
yellow Tommy basketball pants to scoop them up
while images of greasy middle-aged
business men are pushed into the background
behind lines and lines of half-full green
dumpsters that smell of day old hamburger helper
and thoughts of tomorrow's biology lab
that will involve white crucibles
provided by the Coors corporation and
the occasional exposure of skin that
opens between the bottom of a girl's skirt
and the upper limit of the black sock below.

The cigarette butts have a lot in common with
MacGuiver reruns and the sensation of recently melted wax solidifying
around your thumbprint. An initial acrid bite
followed by a stretch of mellowness that smacks
of the menthol numbness of eucalyptus coughdrops
and the subtle scratch of someone who hasn't
quite contracted emphysema. The soft saffron filters suggest
the narrow draft of an open window
while you watch Letterman on a November night
with guests, that pneumonia gurgle through cracked
car windows on the highway when plegm
obstructs the speech patterns of old men
and turns them into semi-mammalian reptiles
that dessicate in front of you by the minute while
you listen to them go on about
the availability of sugar during World War II
in those biannual awkward moments
when you've exhausted your list of inoffensive
observations about how much it rained last week
and what you plan to do after you finish school.

The background heatbath of cosmic x-rays that
turns some random person's liver or skin into
a Schwan's Salisbury Steak microwave dinner on a daily
basis now gets through less and less.
Large spectra of its sine waves bounce
off of the orange sheets of frosting that hang
in the air and the street corner's
temperature falls into the night.
The two people left on the street
pull their blankets tighter around their heads,
suck at the taste of the muffin they found this morning,
and hope that the faded feeling in the tips of their
toes will soon spread to the other parts of
their bodies,
and wonder whatever happened to that warm industrial smoke.

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