Poem of the Month

September 2018

Outside Looking in  – by Tony Isaacs


Drawing back the curtains, the zero-cool edifices,

A baseball throw from my window,

Reveal themselves in all their full-frontal effrontery.

Monumental in size, now simply monuments.


Twentieth-century twin icons, capitalism writ large,

They bask like upstanding whales in the early morning sun,

Towering above the concourse and the people.

A geometric series of parallel lines reaching skyward.


A previous evening, I, a guest atop the North Tower,

Peered down on Big John* in the Upper Bay,

– A thumbnail can obliterate it from this height –

A mobile battering ram seaward-bound,

The American dream wrapped in an iron glove.


I ventured out on to the top of the tower,

And managed –


clinging to the rail –

To walk round the perimeter.


A previous evening, I, a spectator enclosed,

With elderly, Russian Jewish émigrés,

With Brits, with Mexicans, with Cubans,

Watch fireworks light up the sky,

And rejoice in America’s independence.


But on this sun-filled, blessed, early morning,

I spy a speck upon the skin,

A smudge perched 73 storeys up.

A cleaner of windows,

Cradled, suspended,

In space and in time,

Applying his cloth to rid the building of its dirt,


2,763 done …


To let the people inside see out,


… 19,0377 …


To let the people outside see in.


to go…


But at that height there won’t be, can’t be,

Other people outside looking in.


Can there?


* USS John F Kennedy, aircraft carrier