Urban Density

Across the street, and over two years, there arises
an apartment block, to reach four storeys in due course.
Two craftsman houses from the twenties are destroyed,
each one a home, now vanished into fugitive oblivion.
Gone their tapered columns, deco rafters, low-pitched roofs,
eaves o'erhanging front verandahs, modest sleeping porches,
all to be replaced by walls of foursquare anonymity.

Eighty thousand cubic feet of soil are carried away,
creating parking space beneath it all. Reversing semis
signaled this continual retreat, and now the tedious
delivery of endless wood and concrete. Men in hard hats
walk and clamber over it, placing joists and studs
according to some devious pattern, fixing them with nails
air-hammered into place. And as the building grows,
other homes and signs of life beyond it disappear.

Trees along the curb remain — tall scaly sycamores
and blue gum eucalyptus, a royal palm or two,
the haunts and habitats of squirrels and sparrows,
perches for a pandemonium of Pasadena parrots,
trumpeting aloud their title to the neighborhood,
regardless of the tasteless insult it is suffering.

by Edward Russell Smith

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