You | hammered a sign | into the soil and | walked away.
Now we carve | out mud and sand | mix and bake together
earth | into our inferno | churn the loose | ground into cubes
make straight | lines out of leaves | that only want to curve.
You | had a simple idea | thought a while | and called it a city.
We are the ones | who stacked the | ground on top of itself,
who | spun streets from | the threads of | the slip breeze.
And when this | empty space has | been alchemically set
into | a new epicentre | of industry and | fearful commerce
there will be no | monument to all | of our cracked hands
that | struggled against | nature to lay out | these streets.
Our fingerprints | will instead be | embedded into concrete
the | echo of our voices | will be audible | in every room.
I wrote the first draft of this at Bristol Tonic, in the half time. The prompt was ‘We built this city’.
I really like using prompts and timers to generate new work. The time constraint (ten minutes in this case) sharpens the mind and forces you to grab onto something from the prompt, even if it is an idea you would never write. This one in particular went in different directions than I expected. I must have been thinking of the Colston statue. It wasn’t perfect after ten minutes, but I had the bones of a poem I could tweak and change. Thanks once again to Tonic for the chance to write something.