Trafficking souls

underneath the chop-block of sound
a Slavic tongue
inflected up or down
the revving bus engine
whirring bicycle spoke
reverberations of doors against lath
brake squeals, dragging heels
the flint of cigarette lighters
inhale of smoke
sandy mash of concrete to sole
concrete to sole
jiggling chassis on its axle
a sudden loud cackle of laughter
contagious teenage girls
side swiping the plaster
an iron palette, somewhere
a workman
massaging old stone
in pairs
in trios, quartets
in solitudes all told
an ark-load
convey with swinging arms
gazing invariably
ahead or down
one shoulder weighed with a heavy load
men and girls
women and boys
blissfully trudging beneath
the veiled façade
unable or unwilling to see
within the slim space of decay
in overalls
the man at work
holding back the past
inevitably at bay

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