“The ancients considered the vast network of sewers under our city as their greatest accomplishment. Indeed, many of these systems predate our earliest literature by hundreds of years.”

There is no country but the country within. No matter the streets alive with stray dogs and pigs, wandering and rooting and masticating bodies, those men shot through by command of the king after a dream insisted. No matter the rats and their fleas. No matter the tanks swiveling and shaking all buildings as they patrol, as they gather bodies. Our city is wild with plague, but the only virus is the virus within.

Outside, amidst towers, red skies and radio signals, I drift and disperse. I fill all voids. Mounded against shop windows, my one time membrane, and stray dogs fill their mouths, fat. They slink past with low hung bellies while from manholes, alligators howl like hissing steam. Beneath our feet, how they float with yellow eyes. Their armored parade.

Days follow and I gather those clumps of skin. Pink meat wailing in my netting and I bundle them in burlap sacks. Before they can breathe, I force them into coffee tins with an iron poker. Soaked and lit, they curl into soot and ash and they disperse how they began, as flakes of meat, like feathers of an exploded bird.

If only from the man’s hands, years ago, the spray of fuel oil and the flash of a match, but the woman gathered first my flecks and motes into her folds. Once inside I lost her face, her hands, and I knew only moist warmth while her kisses issued in whispers. From the davenport, the man’s canisters hissed and seethed, his tubes, his clotted eyes, his yellow teeth. Powerless to end what his detritus had become.

Our city is alive with shotgun blasts and the sullen plummet of pigeons. With wild boars devouring detritus in the ditches and soot faced children prowling the streets with bolt guns, children firing bolt guns into ditches, children eating hogs raw by the wayside, splattered with blood and flecks of skin. As a culture we are losing more skin than ever before. Our city is clouded with skin, with children cutting free from our nets, with children wandering, alone and armed with bolt guns, with dogs and alligators and hogs.

Outside, my bones become as flecks of teeth and neighbors are dragged from their houses and shot against brick walls. Everywhere armed soldiers in ski masks and everywhere skin dispersing.

Outside there are forced marches under moonlight. Outside there are cattle cars and mounds of detritus like pillars of salt.

Outside lonely children shoot hogs for spending cash.

Outside I think.

Outside against a brick wall, the howling of dogs and the sounds of silent anticipation, of fingers preparing to squeeze. I hear the decay of detritus, of urine and skin and blood, of teeth and skull. I hear a world to come.

When my body is gone I will take on a form of rust and mosaics of tiling, a tomb of decay and drip where all is lit with florescence. Beneath the ash of all valleys will remain my valley of alligators.