Friday Poem – A Psalm for the Scaffolders

This week’s Friday Poem comes from Kim Moore’s acclaimed debut, The Art of Falling.

The Art of Falling Kim MooreThese are poems that confront the reader, steeped in realism, they are not designed to soothe or beguile. They are not designed with careful overlays of irony and although frequently clever, they are not pretentious but vigorously alive and often quite funny.

Already a winner of multiple prizes, such as the Northern Promise Award (2014), Moore writes poems that are both moving and memorable.


A Psalm for the Scaffolders

who balanced like tightrope walkers,
who could run up the bracing
faster than you or I could climb
a ladder, who wore red shorts
and worked bare-chested,
who cut their safety vests in half,
a psalm for the scaffolders
and their vans, their steel
toe-capped boots, their coffee mugs,
a psalm for those who learnt
to put up a scaffold standing
on just one board, a psalm
for the scaffolder who could put
a six-inch nail in a piece of wood
with just his palm, a psalm
for those who don’t like rules
or things taking too long, who now
mustn’t go to work uncovered,
who mustn’t cut their safety vests
or climb without ladders, who must
use three boards at all times,
a psalm for the scaffolders
who fall with a harness on,
who have ten minutes to be rescued,
a psalm for the scaffolder who fell
in a clear area, a tube giving way,
that long slow fall, a psalm for him,
who fell thirty feet and survived,
a psalm for the scaffolder
who saw him fall, a psalm for those
at the top of buildings, the wind whistling
in their ears, the sky in their voices,
for those who lift and carry
and shout and swear, for those
who can recite the lengths of boards
and tubes like a song, a psalm for them,
the ones who don’t like heights
but spent their whole life hiding it,
a psalm for those who work too long,
a psalm for my father, a psalm for him.

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