Our Town

A melancholy crossroads,
Its route and purpose left behind,
When traffic, work and trade
Have moved on too many times,
Except, in part, for coal;

Hard and shabby, post-industrial,
Its changes all rung out,
Old identity long lost, apart
From cynicism’s cold sour spur:
That town which nurtured us
In its resilience, vitality and heart;

Old monks: Gone
Covenanters: Gone
Weavers: Gone
Canal: Gone
Ironworks: Gone
Papermills: Gone
Distillery: Gone
Coalmines: Had gone….

But now the farmstead’s gone
Instead, its centuries of work
And family, a history, erased
In search of coal. A version
Of the search, the seam, the bed,
The tyrant’s rack that killed grandfather

Underground, turned opencast
To devour the fertile land, empty and
Whole, scattered as debris and dust,
Where firedamp was feared, and falls,
All to claim the power beneath it all:
The district’s fame and scourge.


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