On a suburban morning the soil bears
a strip mall’s bright new skeleton.
The braces sink deep into a slab of cement,
rivets dotting the length of its bones
as ribs of steel bite concrete corners.
To salute the specifications the empty cage
folds up out of the ground with help
from bulldozers and cranes grinding away
against the weight of congealed clay.
Compacted earth fights and falters against
the machines and muscles of helmeted men
whose knees nearly buckle beneath heaved beams
while sweat streams underneath their vests
soaking their store-bought, torn-filled t-shirts
clinging damply, another reminder of thirst.
Just across the intersection
a stranded gas station stands
silent in a sea of asphalt
flanked by four handleless pumps
and rows of dense columns
hoisting a rectangular roof,
the stains of a name still proclaimed on one side
where the letters were stripped long ago.
During the day, Derek Lazarski coordinates a writing center at a community college in Chicago, while in the evenings he is writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His writing portfolio is available online at www.KaleidoscopeLighthouse.com.