The Art of Fallen Beams

This is yet another English Assignment – we were to find a famous poet and choose a poem of theirs and present it to the class alongside an original poem we wrote to mimic that poet’s style. I chose “Two Lorries” by Seamus Heaney – which is in sestina form and describes the Magherafelt bombings on 1993. I felt to be true to his style of writing I should choose a human-caused disaster and follow his train of thought – from realism to imagery to an instruction to the audience of the poem. (Again with the dashes, WordPress and I are still fighting.)

The Art of Fallen Beams

The sun shines down onto concrete sidewalks and steel beams.

Every few minutes, the sky is streaked with the trail of another airplane

That flies fast and far over the city filled with people like the fireman,

Talking to a kid half his size like he was his father –

Has he ever been up in a truck’s ladder and seen New York?

The kid says no but his mother pulls him on – he has his life

To live and maybe he will someday. The man returns to his life

Of his no sleep, called out day and night to save lives and make children beam

With happiness. The never sleeping city of New York

Carries on, dragging him with it. The constant plane

Of effervescent life seems dull to the father

Of two – he never sees them enough as a fireman

Never able to take them to films – the exhaustion of firemen

Takes away their ability sometimes to live life

The way they should, taking time to be a father

Watching as their child swings from beams

On the playground, making noises like an airplane

Revving its engines and soaring over a new New York

And on to the sun rise. Oh, New York!

Oh, dream on of parades lined with children on firemen

As time ticks on and two airplanes

Swerve off course, over the city, ready to give life

To blow up a building in smoke and falling beams.

After that, ghosts of husbands and fathers

Haunt the sobbing forms who must yet go farther,

Must stand up from the dust of the shocked city of New York,

Gather up shopping bags and move away from the beams.

Death walks past them with the bodies of firemen,

Lifting them from the rubble, prying their lives

From empty shells, to another plane

Of light and sky, but which plane

Is better? The one of children without a father

Or that of fathers without anything, including a lost life

In a time beyond limits above New York.

So coil up your hose and return to life, fireman.

Watch the rain clear ash off the beams.

As you hoist the ladder of life to try and rescue lost New York,

checking wrecks of planes for surviving fathers

That you can return to the children of the city, fireman, as you try to forget the deathly art of fallen beams.

photo credit Steve McCurry

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