The city is ill.
Cars run through her veins like thickening blood,
S l o w e r,
Pumped round by the stop-start rhythm
Of faltering traffic light hearts,
Moving less than an inch
With every green-light beat.
She doesn't breath so well these days:
Her lungs are clogged with viscous fumes,
And hazy clouds of nicotine smoke
Have given her a hacking cough you hear
In rattling drainpipes late at night
Her vision's going,
Neon light by neon light,
Make everything seem blurry at the edges.
And she never sleeps:
Footfalls of night-shift workers,
And music with throbbing bass lines
That register on the Richter scale
Suspend her in perpetual insomnia;
Smears of dirt on the pavement
Are the bags under her eyes.
These last few years she's run a temperature
An ever-growing fever
And burns white-hot,
Makes daffodils bloom in December
And die as spring rains fall:
Her concrete skin is scalding to the touch.
Sometimes she screams,
Sends high-pitched SOSs
Through ambulance sirens
That wail like banshees
And rent the summer even ings
Into jagged halves;
But the pathogens
That hear them rushing by
Turn away, with hands over their ears
And do not listen.