Question & Answer 5 – Niall Bourke

Question 5

Every lane from my house leads to the city,
and they all carry a sign that reads:
……..Quiet Lane.
Quiet Lane – and I’ve always firmly believed
in an interconnected anthill network
of Cornish back roads all named:
……..Quiet Lane.
As if one singular lane has stretched itself
like dough, long enough to carry all the tourists
and dogwalkers in this idiotically blue county.
……..Quiet Lane.
Do I remain hushed, Niall? Or do I speak up
and hope this lane turns red like the ford again?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 5

1666 – conflagration
terriblus devours London town.
poor Saint Paul’s – incineration.
13,000 homes burn down.
Monument, a tall memorial
to passers-by, a tutorial
that in Pudding Lane a baker
razed it all to ash and crater.
62 metres high. She attacks
the 311
spiralling steps like seven
accountants saving Starbucks tax.
The top. Stops. Drinks in the bends*
and pewtered passings of the Thames.
……………………………………Gulls that swoop and dive and stukka
……………………….……………………….……………………….between pillars of Tower Bridge
……………………….……………………….……………………….and see, circling, the feluccas,
……………………….……………………….……………………….trawlers, tugs that zig like midges
……………………….……………………….……………………….down below between catamarans
……………………….……………………….……………………….and passenger boats, understand
……………………….……………………….……………………….that from such advantaged eye
……………………….……………………….……………………….the city is of course alive:
……………………….……………………….……………………….roads are clogged up arteries,
……………………….……………………….……………………….the river is a crooked spine,
……………………….……………………….……………………….iron skeleton railway lines
……………………….……………………….……………………….supporting concrete capillaries
……………………….……………………….……………………….that transport the sustaining swells
……………………….……………………….……………………….of biogenic human cells.

– Niall Bourke

*    Here she too from this lofty eerie/ sees anew a liquid vein/pulsing life underneath the dreary/ cloud, and recalls with sticky pain/ words that surface from below in/ gulps – a chartered Thames flowing/ constrained, forced to defray/ the cities ostentations like a stray/ king’s toxic urethra, muscling/ out rippled knolls and silent folds, / lapping up against shoals/ of lunch-hour folk and bustling/ tourists, who both caw and coo/ as happy folk are wont to do.

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