fallen in a heap 
why do i keep 
falling in a heap?

i got plaster 
i got bricks 
i got a boxful 
of tradesman’s tricks 
i got cement
well it’s still in the bag 
there isn’t a tap here 
that’s the drag 
i got sand 
i got trowels 
i got my dad’s 
good set of rules
  the architect’s plan 
said build a square 
but i read it wrong 
and built it in air 
he laughed like a demon 
when he saw what i’d done 
said Won’t last a minute 
in a good-going sun 
dig down there
with the help of your brutes 
it won’t be a square 
unless it has roots
  so i dug 
and i’m digging
and i’ll dig
but digging’s not the trouble 
it’s getting rid 
of the rubble 
he specifically said 
I don’t care what’s done 
with what you throw out of here  
but we’re delving to go up again 
and the surface must be clear
  and here i’m surrounded 
i’m mountained and mounded 
with more rubbish than hole 
and no barrows at all

fallen in a heap 
why do i keep 
falling in a heap?
Alan Jackson

from Salutations: Collected Poems 1960-1989 (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990)

Reprinted by permission of the author.
Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson is a Scottish poet and writer who established influential poetry readings at the Edinburgh Festival in the 1960s. 

Read more about this poet