Poetry – Daniel Wade


Rooftop Blues

I could go for a quick smoke on the roof,
the steel vent pipe snaking
its lobed edges toward the window,
hear the incidental music of engines snarl up
from Richmond Street, relentless as diesel.                    
Maybe, just maybe, I see people for what we are
and want no part in it? Spilled lighter fluid,
a puddle of technicolour, swirls like marbled
paper where a lit match was dropped, and where
flames now spasm. A dove, olive branch
gripped in its beak, is shot down by tracer-bullet
in the lull of sundown, and, like me, bouncers
light up down laneways. Beats from a DJ throb
from an emergency exit to remind me that escape
is no longer possible, not now, then or ever,
and that I am moored, permanently, to here.                           


Rope Jockey

A text from the agency tells me
when and where to be
and what tools to have on-site
(though I know that already):
harness and gloves, high-viz
and hard hat. On the Luas,
I watch Dublin hunker in March rain,
her blue-black skyline tightened like a toolbelt
and head into the site at 7 on the dot,
with an Americano
from Frank and Honest
and a heart attack sandwich
(that’s a breakfast roll to you)
to keep me going.
The site is knotted, impassable as a jungle:
a cluster of skeletal cranes loom
in the sky, statically iron,
set in stone or steel, balanced against all weather,
jibs shredding cloud as the wind’s high grip
rattles through bony lattice
and chain-sling as they slowly swivel
to lift granite slabs to the roof:
pulleys and outriggers and bolts set in a concrete base,
concrete vomited from mixers, giant rust-
scuffed boxes stacked high
with rollers and chains, corrugated ridges.
I wonder how soon it’ll be
before funding gets pulled and it’s left derelict,
not even a quarter of the way finished:
the rich weight of industry, injurious as scorn. 
Secretly, I’m grateful for the job,
that I get to work on this building
destined to be a hotel
or some tech firm’s HQ,
I.D. card swinging and bleeping me in,
my serial number memorised like girl’s name.
Rung by rung, I climb 
as if towards heaven, past girders and I-beams
slung low in ruled, russet mesh,
my wings soaked in caffeine and blood,
numb to the view 
nestling far below me, steel-grey morass
of roofs and webbed pavements, traffic
an arterial drip-feed. I sit in the cab controls
like a pilot becalmed in mid-air,
grip the levers and manoeuvre the crane into life,
harnessing it to come ‘round full circle,
as if in slow motion
with a conclusive thud. Load follows load,
lb follows lb, and I’ll do
as many as thirty, forty lifts a day
if I have to, the back jib
and counterweight locked in their waltz,
’til a voice on the radio confirms:
“Yeh, she’s all clear, boss.”
And time isn’t measured by my watch
but by the rise and sink of the sun,
a solar disk in tiled and black in slow hurtle
across the glass cages,
reddening my face by degrees. It’s mad
how dark it gets in the space of a few hours,
how much the city looks like a crime scene,
how unstoppable it all seems.


Daniel Wade is a Dublin-based author. He was awarded the Hennessy prize New Irish Writing in 2015, and his poetry has appeared in over two dozen publications. Follow his progress on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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