Thursday, 29 September 2016

Chain of Colliers


At long last…light,
Time of renewal, relief, hope,
Looking forward to colour.

Blue sky, grey sky, herringbone.
Warm rain, howling rain, relief.

Getting rid of grime.
Clearing burdensome clutter
Gives sense of freedom.

Looking forward to better times,
But backward to what is lost.

Time for action plan,
Memorable moments – bring ‘em on!
Learn, love, laugh, grow.


It’s here! We’ve waited so long
To cast off winter’s burden.

Smells of grass and food,
People mingling, laughing, free
Briefly from routine.

Winding down – put toothbrush in
Carrier with spare knickers.

It’s hard to imagine
The grime, the crowds, the noise,
Now the pits have gone.

Incarceration was cruel,
Ponies slaving underground.


The colours are nice,
If only it didn’t get colder
And damp, grey and dark.

One over – I would have cried.
Year older – I’m older – Thanks!

Thoughts drift to summer,
To sunny days and light nights…
But winter comes next.

Now what will it be today?
Not bread and dripping again!

Nights are drawing in,
Time to start wearing me vest.
Thought summer wouldn’t end.


Quilt days, hoodie days, book days,
Thick socks, fleece throw, have go – right?

Scary the unknown,
How do we look forward in hope?
Present in turmoil.

Did Shakespeare write on mines?
A Winter’s Tale must come close.

Lighten the darkness,
Illuminating my world,
Lamp unto my feet.

Now the earth can be reclaimed,
Restored for a greener future.

Renga composed by Dave Alton
From verses written by Coalshed Poets:
Marian Barker
Claire Crossdale
Jean Hales

Friday, 2 September 2016

Darkness Unhurried

How darkness echoes having been buried,
Absence of hurriers, darkness unhurried,
While depths of earth being no longer measured
By stomach churned seconds, and the long leisured
No longer count their leisure. Deep, deep down
In an undrawn drawer, rolled in old brown
Paper, the silver-set pendant is not jet,
But polished Barnsley hard, shining as wet
Even after all these years. Grandad fashioned it
On days between pickets, so impassioned it
Is difficult to recall the pressing need,
Urgent need for precise faceting. Freed
From necessity for one idle day,
She’d stood by the kerbside on Pithill Way
Watching the Anthracite Sisters process,
Barefooted and in closed ranks, to confess
Their calling to redundancy, the shock
At their closing order, to the headstock,
Unwound winding gear bound with steel hawsers
For scrap. Since then, or so she supposes,
The nominal value in that shaped shard
Of silver-set and hand-worked Barnsley hard,
Should remain as an echo, left buried
In her drawer, in darkness unhurried.

                                                                Dave Alton