Ian In England

Ian In England

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method is “Clear”

I am over in the UK at the moment and am phoning the poems in to the show.

No rest for the wicked eh?



I gazed out from the battery wall on Edinburgh Castle
Across the Firth of Forth toward the rolling hills of Fife
“You’re blessed with a clear day” remarked a friendly voice behind me
But it was not the view I pondered – I was looking at a life!

My mother’s place of birth – a dour mining village
A church, a store, a cemetery – the house and street long gone
How long her family lived there – none alive can answer
Bare subsistence wages kept them ever moving on

I met a few old timers, the youngest in his eighties
The handful remaining who’d set foot in the mines
Though their stories were their own, they spoke for generations
The lives of countless families were woven in their lines

The filthy, dangerous work, rewarded by a pittance
The town; company owned and ruled by their conceits
Families and lives reduced to little more than numbers
The same soulless numbers used to name the streets

The time they went on strike over wages and conditions
Neither threats nor near starvation could convince them to go down
What little food they had was shared willingly with neighbours
So the company turned the water off to every house in town

The grief when the shaft collapsed claiming several of the miners
They shut it down, filled it in – that pit became their grave
A reminder of the risks they to take to scrape a living
As much a tribute to survival as the ones they couldn’t save

I gazed out from the battery wall on Edinburgh Castle
Cloud engulfed the hills and a mist rolled off the sea
“A visitor?” enquired the voice. “Pity about the weather”
“Just a tourist” I responded “But the view seems clear to me”

© Copyright 2009 Ian Bland

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