Form and structure

Form

The poem's form is immediately striking. Instead of neat, compact stanzas, the lines are long and the stanzas stretched.

On closer inspection, you can see there are two stanzas. The first stanza has five lines, the second has four.

However, each line spills over so there are additional lines of one, two or three words.

By presenting the poem like this, Carson is expressing the confusion caused by the riot and bomb.

For example, with the phrase "And / the explosion / Itself" (lines 3-5) we even end up reading backwards as our eyes have to move from right to left across and down the page.

Structure

Despite the confusion of the form and language, we can still see a narrative structure - that is, an organised story.

A demonstration has got out of hand and riot police have moved in to control it.

The rioters start throwing things and there is an explosion. It is possible the nuts and bolts come from the explosion itself.

Time may also be confused in the poet's head. He runs for safety, trying to make sense of what is happening. But he cannot escape.

The place he knows so well becomes a trap. He runs into a checkpoint where he is held and questioned by the police.

The poem seems to be upside down or back to front. Instead of starting with a question and then answering it, it moves from exclamation marks at the start to question marks at the end.