Hear: The tokens jangle into coin slots:
Turnstiles return: Footsteps that clack up on
Old staircases of the el: Riders push off trains
Making the thuds of sockballs falling off
Rickety dresser tops. Unrolled sky
Chips off of faded drawer wrap.
Spelunker in a chest of drawers hammers away
To howls of a mad balladeer playing where
The skin ends. Railroad cars
Make good excavators departing off
With the soils of Broadway Station, Master.
Lights blow in the floods. Weather’s briezing.
Excavators warn Conductor:
Corps of Discovery cannot proceed in
The metropolis waterworks or
The topsaturva tributaries. Chaos,
Too much for ossuaries.
You paint the work’s pictographs on roads.
Your surveyor’s level gauges new territories
To give that positive view
Of skirts and heels, earrings and do’s.
Dang. The hemlines. Damn civilities.
Shoot the crow. Show the bird your ammo.
Electric dam just might do the trick here, might be
Worth the trip here for some oilfields,
For some patent for the faithful, for the prayer
And the aging. And the bones will be there,
The foreman said. Dig on into the earnings, boys;
You might just find some shells. Dig on.
The water table grows. Dig deeper there
Below the ground. Elixir rising to meet you,
You, Excavator, in mud and excrement.
A discomforting morning licks
The tops of your too worn work boots.
It’s the morning’s first day
That carries news and breathes black
And sooty data onto your fingertips:
Headline capitals stain the readers’
Finger-grills with oil men’s handshakes:
Eureka’s ink residue runs.
A land lay along a long tidal river.
So here’s your through line
To your meaning, to your death,
To your western extremities.
Tap into that pipeline and the new towne
Loses its water supply. Bleed
The wooden mains before winter.
There’ll be more of that when our
Expedition returns pleased with its notes,
Maps and dealings. Primitive
The red-skinned, the group’ll say,
But good for a compass
Directive through greens and Purchase.
Congregational plans but a short trek away.
A spigot to the kerosene, a candle wick
For some wisdom. Easy grammar
To the pumps. We’ve hit some bumps
On the dig. Ignore the warnings, Excavators,
Conductors of our cavities. Dig on.
Read the strata. Dig on.