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A gap now


The bridge has been taken away

I told you about the old bridge

that was there before

the bridge that was there before


the tin shed cinema stood

keeping its darkness




running from the film …show

running from the… dark

across the …bridge

into the intense colour of the park

I was always running then

I was three.

Doctors were paid,

to write “heart failure”,

or heart stopped,

on the death certificate

of miners –

silicosis or pneumoconiosis,

“miners lung,”

inhaled coal dust in plain words

were not words

in the doctors vocabulary.


But the doctors were paid

by the mining companies,

so the widows’,

the children,

were not compensated

for the loss of a man’s wage,

for living their lives in poverty.

The gap is there.

I am interested

in the space,

the gap


and what is unsaid.

I am always running.

But never away.


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In February 2019 two days and nights of heavy rain brought a flood that swept through Pontypridd’s celebrated War Memorial Park. Swept away a storage container that builders were using and damaged the Park bridge. That bridge is not the bridge in the foto’s above…that bridge is the bridge I ran out of the tin shed Cinema and crossed into the Park to disappear and keep on running. From what I do not know.

It’s funny because for most of my adult life I think of myself as running towards the fire like a fireman, or a policeman. I spent so much of my working life working with the most dangerous, the most damaged, the most…I ran towards…what?…Or was I running away from running away?

In the valley — South Wales is a land of valleys — there are always rivers, flood rivers, and when I was a child the rivers ran black. Black from the coal washed in the mines into the rivers. Black as the coal dust in the miners lungs. The rivers run clean today. Everybody says that-followed by remembrances of when the river was black. Except the river is not running clean. It’s filled with plastic thrown in, somewhere up stream, that’s swept down river every time it floods and the plastic and everything else that’s been thrown in litters the river beaches, and hangs from the beautiful trees that line the rivers banks.

The river is the living embodiment of the hypocrisy of the generations who love David Attenborough, Greta Schonberg and all the other people trying to save the planet. But the river cries out in the way that only a river can —


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Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.

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