Beyond Repair

by Gerry Callaghan
The Write Idea
Second Place, November 2014
Judged by Philip Belcher


It could be fixed if it were just a crack,
but there’s a crack in the crack.
It’s through to the laths,
into the brickwork, I’d venture.
Have you had any bees?

It’s quite dire; maybe a year
before it’s into the framing.
And look at the oriel; that’s a sign,
a hairline in the corbel.
Given time it’ll be gaping.

I’d do my best; I’m a dab hand
at papier-mâché, though
I’ve seen how these things go.
You pay and you pay and the whole place
comes down the next thing you know.

If it were me, I’d set to packing,
try life in a tree,
though prone to cracks cracking,
or a pond–fishes in packs,
no fissures in cracks.


The most obvious and fun element of this poem is the word play. Rhyme and repetition and other musical elements combine to add humor to what should be a sad architectural diagnosis. The element I want to focus on, however, is the use of the specific architectural terms “oriel” and “corbel.” The fact that I had to use a dictionary to understand the words did not diminish my enjoyment of their use in the second stanza. Using technical terms or “terms of art” in a poem, when done unobtrusively, adds a sense of confidence in the speaker’s voice, and that is what this poet has done. --Philip Belcher

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