Mechanized air hisses through ceiling vents
keeping me alive but imprisoned. Can’t
step out the door. A humid wall of heat,
from cloud level to the fiery street,
throttles like a criminal in ambush.
Weight like invisible fleece chokes, breath crushed.
In heat, the body's streams evaporate
fluid from eyes, nostrils, lips, throat. “Hydrate!”
radios repeat. “Alert!” jangles cell phones.
Our pores relax in humming indoor zones
fueling carbonic vapors rising, rising,
tearing holes in our blue surround of sky.
Summers past, fragrant breezes spelled relief.
Today our cooling comfort rhymes with grief.
Like vicious dogs we wear muzzles—
masks to filter toxic particles,
through blinding thick haze.
Seal windows and doors with tape.
Keep children home from school.
Bathe baby with decontaminated water.
For centuries, coal
has been mother/father—
our cloak of sheltering warmth,
eraser of the dark,
creator of sizzling grill and wok's
Think train, factory, wages—all
drilled out of a mountain's
The air is a chemical weapon
we've turned upon ourselves.