Poem a Day #18 – The Sewers of Bogota

Bogota Sewers

Last night I watched a disturbing short documentary, about people who live in the sewers of Bogota.  They are mainly streetkids, but adults too. One man and his wife have lived in the sewers for 20 years. They live there because the streets of Bogota are unsafe. Street kids are rounded up and executed by social cleansing death squads. The police are as bad, and regularly drop petrol down manholes to burn the sewer dwellers. In one incident, twenty streetkids were burned to death.

Of course safety is relative. In the sewer, they just have to worry about rats, disease and storm surges. The documentary was narrated by an unusual man who goes by the name of ‘Baby Balls” – I’m not sure why. But if you are game, you can watch it here

Here’s my reaction to the documentary:


The Sewers of Bogota

Stalactites of shit

mark the entrance

to my hideaway,

a hollow off the main sewer,

a hollow where I am safer

than on the street.


Safe from the death squad’s

social cleansing,

from the police

who tip petrol

down the manhole

and throw a lit match.

The ‘whoomp’ of flame

surges along the sewer,

bypasses my hollow home,

singes  the stalactites of shit.


The rats are smart

enough to retreat

but the streetkids,

addled by drugs

and hunger, slowed

by shin deep shit,

are burnt, twenty

at a time. Their bodies

lie like huge blackened

turds in the sewer;

until a downpour of rain

washes them away.


“When it’s your turn,

it’s your turn” we say.

My wife too was swept away.

“It was her turn” I say.


In the darkness you lose

sense of day and night.

If I’m feeling brave

I climb the rungs

of a  manhole

to check the streets

but the clear air

stresses me.

I scrounge food,

find drugs,

steal what I can;

take it back to my

hidden hollow

where the stench of shit

tells me I am safe.


© Mike Hopkins 2014

One thought on “Poem a Day #18 – The Sewers of Bogota

Please tell me what you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s