~www.neilrollinson.com~

 

Demolition

We can drop this building into a biscuit tin,
all forty storeys, everything's planned,
down to the last inch: the pre-repairs,
the pattern of charges:
nitro-glycerine, dynamite, RDX.

We study it for days,
from high ground or the tops of other buildings,
sorting our delay paths,
checking sequences from other jobs.
It's an intuition. A sixth sense.
We take the whole thing down in our heads.

Then we begin:
control the velocity of failure,
let each part of the structure disintegrate
at a different speed - we can make it
walk down the road, like a zombie.
We can turn it around, drop it ten floors
then stop it, dead; waltz it out of a corner
then lay it down in the road,
like a golem tired of standing.

After it's done, we check the debris,
the fragmentation pattern, see how
neat we've been. This is downtown Baltimore
and you can't move for skyscrapers,
cars, pedestrians. There isn't a scar,
a stone out of place, hardly a stir of dust
and the birds are singing. It's like nothing
was there: nothing had happened.

 

Vallejo: Waiting

Tonight I get down off my horse
and stand again at the door of the house
where I said goodbye one distant dawn.
It's shut, and no one answers.

The stone bench where mum
gave birth to my brother, so he could
saddle the horses I would ride
by street and fence, a village child,
this bench on which I left my painful
childhood yellowing in the sun;
it's sadness frames the doorway now.

My horse sneezes, taps at the pavement
in doubt, this is his calling, the brute:
God in a foreign place. He sniffs,
neighs and shakes his clever ear.
Dad will keep watch, praying,
and maybe he will think I'm late.
My sisters sing of their simple hopes,
beside themselves, preparing for the festival,
which is almost here. I wait, I wait,
my heart like an egg about to break.

It was a large family I left,
and not so long ago, but today
no one keeps watch, not even a light bulb
burns to welcome me home.

I call out, but there's no reply.
I stand there, weeping, and the animal
neighs, and neighs again.

All are sleeping now, forever,
and so deeply that my horse,
exhausted from shaking his head,
turns, half dreaming, and says to me
with every nod, that it's fine,
that everything is just fine.