Demolition

Neil Rollinson

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:
nitroglycerine, 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; like nothing had happened.