(For Alain Robert)
Burj Khalifa, Eiffel, Willis, Taipei 101:
their names are enough to give you vertigo.
Iron fists, twisting swords, taunting cartels –
this is not the Verdon,
it’s a quarter mile of glass and steel.
Necks craned, we scan the tartan grid,
our guts churning like fresh cement;
strong fingers, permanently bent, grip articulations.
It’s rare to see a man defy a stainless sky,
ignore the yawning void, not every day
someone smiles outside your window
on the ninety-seventh floor.
He skims up curtain walls, counts stories
like the months he lost in comas,
impossible reflections in his eyes,
clears the vertex, lifts his arms
above a blaze of urban lights.
Sometimes police arrest him, but this won’t deter him.
Our wounded superhero doesn’t care.
He climbs so he can be reborn
and doesn’t need eight legs – just two, and good shoes.
(First published in The Sunlight Press, 6 June 2017.)