top of page

2 poems by Lydia Unsworth

Just a Natural Consequence of Their Design, Just Part of Their Natural Life Cycle

it is strange to watch four towers blow up

in the fog

playing peek-a-boo like they knew

like they wanted the local papers to say

Our Monoliths Remained Untamed Till the Last

or In Typical Fiddler’s Fashion,

They Are Going Out on Their Own Terms

the skyline afterwards was much the same

as it had been for most of the morning

amateurs in the crowd asked questions

such as which ones? and where are they?

while standing directly in the pantomime line

and we shouted back behind you!

on Facebook, Shaun begged the ether

rather late in the day

if the demolition could be cancelled

because he couldn’t see clearly

the post was not reported

the towers were looming

we’d gathered in cloud

a lady in a beret stood for three hours

in snow on the pavement by her tripod

far too far away to capture anything

I stared at the corner of a house

willing the hyberboloids to materialise

and darken, like a nude’s underwear

on a mug that changes colour in heat

a cooling tower cannot be embarrassed

but it can be annihilated, reduced

to a worthy absence

a scar is the mark left when you destroy a thing

it is not the thing

a scar requires there to have been a removal

it exists in the after

it implies having missed, like Shaun,

who stayed home in the end, the bulk of the action

as with any change of state, there is a pause

our legs spin

we have chosen unknowing

we have chosen the cliff

the clouds did not part

but they thinned

same as how nothing is ever complete

it was 9:36 when Grace pressed

the button a cable unsnapped

from the plastic block she was holding

like a gleeful hoover cord putting itself away

Grace has mixed emotions about winning the raffle

with the comforting landmark gone

how will she know when she’s home?

her son is sad the view from his bedroom window

is changing

Grace doesn’t mention her feelings post-initiation

she shares a video from her husband’s phone

as a child I had a recurring dream

about winning a raffle I wasn’t supposed to enter

and under the sudden storm clouds and hail

running away

my father’s voice booming

like the crack of four towers coming down

the structure collapses like a thin chocolate shield

doused in hot liquid caramel

I put a chocolate ball like an oyster in my mouth

in the revolving restaurant where we would try to impress

the billionaire who eventually sacked us

and its form imploded

in one expensive second

this wasn’t a failure though

I’d played my role

the towers fold like soft forms in fire

like kites caught in trees

like the fresh moves of inflatable men at car dealerships

being fanned through the knees

like pylons collapsing

like parachutes on top of my body starved of wind

I want to watch the enormous shrink

photos of the four resultant chicken-pox stains

on the ground

make me gag

just dust now

we’re ghosts inhaling the insides of hoover bags

the material keeps coming

it will keep on coming

they are designed to collapse into their own pits

not to disturb anything

to pop in a footprint

this is a date, I said

and kissed your cheek

the fog was brown and orange like when the Sahara comes

and coats us

the pub was rammed

another piece of history flattened

people were drinking Heineken on the street

High Point, Bradford

after Bradford & Bingley Building Society

“the last-gasp of a sort of Heath-Wilsonian regional resurgence,

at a time when ‘financial services’ were not synonymous with the

corporate casino-ism of the City of London, but a flourishing of

century-old Victorian independent mutuals, and northern self-


Twentieth Century Society

if the unconscious is involved

in the design of the building

its knife-slash eyes

its mosquito-net Fontanas

keeping the prey at bay

(but hold two palms together

see what shape they make)

when I stay in a hotel

I always want the top one

a room or a bunk bed the higher the better

I want the view from a distance

but that is not my life

it was obvious

first thing I saw (our eyes will go a certain way)

we know what we’re looking for

it was obvious

so obvious they’d fuck us


by taking the third away

if the unconscious is involved in the design

of a building then why don’t we consult it

when we take a thing away?


Lydia Unsworth’s latest collection is Mortar (Osmosis). Her next collection Arthropod, will be published by Death of Workers Whilst Building Skyscrapers in 2024. A new pamphlet, These Steady Bulbs (above/ground), is also forthcoming. Pubbed in Shearsman, Oxford Poetry, Bath Magg, Ambit, etc.

These poems were selected by Anthropocene Guest Editor Tom Branfoot.


bottom of page