Under piquant-orange afternoon smog
a businessman coughs and readjusts his surgical mask;
he carries his briefcase like a chemical weapon – away from his body.
A set of traffic lights swallow bitter-green tablets,
and beckons a group of children to step onto the safety zone,
to cross over those same lines
that snort police chalk,
feeding the trapped souls of those
whose breaths smell like gutter-cat piss;
whose shouts of warning echo
through pavement cracks and open sewers,
only to be consumed
by screeching tires and a cacophony of polyphonic ringtones.
A speeding motorist leans over and tunes the FM.
Somewhere a madman giggles,
picking at the scabs on the back of his neck – eating them –
as he watches mildew grow,
over the cracks,
over the lips of buildings.
words and photography by Ramon Ramirez