Leaning with me over yellow Caution tape

stand a self-proclaimed engineer chewing a burrito,

an olive-skinned boy with bottle cap eyes,

a chatty retiree who remembers this old street in the 40’s

when the city first installed “those fancy street lamps”


Down in the dig, knots of cables worm out of dirt walls,

tangle across a long brown puddle at the bottom


The raw and real history of buried farms

mix here with the stench of the city’s backside,

the exhausts of small wall fans of cafés and grills,

burnt onions, strong garlic, leftover meat,

fish heads, decaying fruit, grease pits,

sewer gas, the droppings of apartment dogs,


and with them the drugstore perfume of a young woman

in a church pew bristling with sex and motherhood

wiping my cheeks clean with spit, fear and tissue,

her early morning breath exotically rank

through the hasty smear of blood ripe lipstick

and a sudden wet kiss


Until the trench is sealed I will pass by again

to watch workmen unearth the scents and smells

given up from this hidden crypt of failed dreams

left in the soil by those who once stood here

and leaned on their shovels to breathe the sky