Fills up the sky in funnels of fumes and heat,
sprinkling its tired civilians with a layer of dust
a mask of resignation through the hustle bustle.
It chokes up our throats as we mutter, scream, cry, fuss
wait for the bus, hail a taxi, rip through a sandwich,
or beg for spare change.
In all walks of life, we wallow through the same filter
cough, wheeze, rasp, hawk, spit—
a war above the concrete jungle we can’t fight or escape.
All a user of the same substance,
we pay tribute as wielders and recipients:
breathe deep, and don’t exhale until the city turns you black.
This poem is included in The Sophomore Year Experience poetry compilation.