Monday, 16 January 2017

An Ode From A Miner's Grand-daughter

There is a coal house way up north beyond the backyard gate
Where starlings flock and pigeons cough to welcome in the day

The sky is dark, the wind is raw as the village slowly wakes
When men and boys conjoin, in gas-light haze, to find the colliery gates
Down paths well trod they make their way to mine the said black gold
And with lamps in hand they wait their turn to descend the
dank, dark shaft.

This toil is hard and noise is all around as seams are worked so deep
 beneath the ground
The air is thin and chests are tight with choking dust and grime
But men and boys must carry on until the siren sounds

With blackened faces out they come to daylight sharp and bright
And as heavy lungs and tired limbs take their toll they make their
way back home
And there in the distance shines a light oh what a heavenly sight

In the modest home the wife awaits to greet her grimy man
She too has toiled to make his home a warm and happy place
With polished range and food to serve she sits before the embers
And holds their son against her breast with dreams to be remembered
But for tonight these dreams must wait as she stokes once more the fire

The latch is lifted and he is home - oh what a sorry sight
The grubby clothes are peeled away and in the zinc tub he soaks
Until once more he feels revived and again can live in hope

Time passes by but this still young man now carries old man’s bones
and sees through old man’s eyes
At his son he smiles, his pride and joy, and his schooling paid its worth
For he is leaving soon to follow paths well trod
 But not towards the mine thank God
His mother weeps with tears of joy as all her dreams come true
 Her boy is free - no colliery dust for him but only fields of gold

For Mum
 Christmas 2015
Carol Grainger Spalding

Monday, 9 January 2017

Oaks Ballad

A pre-Christmas, sparkly, 12/12 day.
Then… Explosion felt, far and near!
Cracked black diamonds blew away.
Déjà vu, The Oaks of yesteryear.

Devilish fiend of firedamp struck mine.
Some workers bid each other goodbye. Amen
into vortex of Dantean-layered decline
I’ll never see those darlings again

From nineteen counties: Northumbria to London,
Norfolk to Cork, toiling on the dark side.
Men and boys, local and incumden
deaths. Howmany, howmany, howmany? The Oaks’ detritus cried.

A valiant voluntary rescue but 383 were dead.
Many bodies unburied, deep in Stairfoot terra.
Family futures, stark glimpses ahead;
burdened down with perseverance and terror.

Gloria Victis.
The Oaks and The Tears
of a hundred and fifty years
are remembered by us today.
When The Oaks Took 383: Give Or Take

Claire Crossdale