Coronation Day 2nd June 1953

So Labour lost an election … we’ve been here before … resistence continues!

 

 

Coronation Day 2nd June 1953

 

From the bench on the street corner one legged Jack sits watching the scene

pennants and bunting draped ready for celebrations, the crowning of a queen.

 

Jailed for killing a sheep to feed half-starved kids in the far away depression days

Jack remembered the struggle to survive and the children dying in those ways.

 

On the tree lined flowering street a white haired boy tried and failed always

when the showering confetti of petals slowly made it their time to fall too.

 

Red white and pink spring colours in a time of khaki, navy blues, and greys

the white haired boy walked kicking along the stony road a blue tin zinc ball

 

Battered and dented dull on each of its three sides from so many tries

to make it fly, it was in those days with long hours they called peace.

 

Thundering and lightning crackled without warning in clear blue skies

the silenced old gods and wise men left only indentations, remembrances

 

Of psalms and words in the places they’d once stood in so many guises.

In the tall aspen trees above the school yard Jackdaws turned into blackness

 

No longer offering advice to the boy standing in silence on a stone edged street.

He wandered listening to hammering hard voices in those endless days of friction.

 

It was a time of remembrances of yearning for memories, idylls and those years

before the great fracturing, when men stared too long into the crematoria’s fire.

 

Of the man-made hell when God looked away from supplications, turned deaf ears

to the prayers of beseechment from the lost, the implorations for intervention

 

For salvation. And only silence reigned. The old Kings head stared one eyed

on silver sixpences and farthings but he was dead and the Christmas tree lights

 

Fixed to the windows and doorways ready for the street party rationing allowed

And all those old songs – knees up mother brown, oh knees up mother brown,

 

They pushed the damper in and they pulled the damper out and the smoke went up

And she’ll be coming round the mountain will be sung again and sung again.

 

It was a time of remembering past times, it was a time for forgetting times too,

there was hope for the future, for a better life that so many had fought and died for.

 

But spin the gaudy worn tin carousel sixty four years or more forward and see

a future of food banks feeding working poor kids in the high streets of ghost towns

 

Where charity shops fill every other door and the worn out junkies haunt the parade

and we turn our backs too as so many lives are stolen away before our very eyes.

 

So our class celebrates the Jubilee of a queen and our impoverishment

Relinquishing, forgetting what life, poverty and struggle was like in those days.

 

These days.

 

My names Jack.

 

What’s yours?

 

Published Red Poets 2018.

©RobCullen2017

Remembering Aberfan

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Bitter limp fruit

 

Imagine fishermen labouring in a heavy swell,

pulling in the trawl to find silver bitter limp fruit,

entwined in the mesh of drip green nets,

and seeing the dead eyed souls of their own young children.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hour, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our time.

 

Imagine coal miners hollowing out the seams,

men stripping coal a mile and more underground,

and the hooters above the darkness call them away,

to be brought up into blink white light to see the black tip,

the harvest of their toils washed into the village,

spewed over the school where small children,

once sang hymns and were supposed to be safe.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hour, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our time.

 

Imagine the trail of letters, written foretelling concerns,

the dead nerved fears that a disaster would occur,

and the NCB replied, not days, not months but years later.

And on a grey fog filled October day, after weeks of rain,

a small children’s school and a day of devastation,

exactly in the manner and the way foretold.

And imagine if no one was held to account,

and those families told – make the slag heap safe yourselves,

from the proceeds raised for the disaster fund.

And we stay silent – for our history is never told,

silenced from the hours, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our times.

 

Imagine the miner, the father, the brother, the son,

looking out at the sprawl of waste they’d dug.

Imagine the mother, the sister, the daughter,

looking out at the grey listlessness of another day.

Of the silent keening, the numbed grieving,

of the impossibility of using words to describe.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hours, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hour of our times.

 

Imagine the mothers bringing up children,

the happiness and hopes for the future.

Imagine the sisters who stayed off school.

Imagine the brothers too slow and were late.

Imagine the vacuum where a life had been once.

Imagine a young life where a vacuum is now.

 

And we have been silenced, our history just words,

and our future is silent and will never be told.

Silenced from this hour, silenced from all the days and more.

Silenced from this, these years, silenced from all that could have been.

 

 

The Aberfan Tribunal found that repeated warnings about the dangerous condition of the tip had been ignored, and that colliery engineers at all levels had concentrated only on conditions underground. In one passage, the Report noted:

“We found that many witnesses … had been oblivious of what lay before their eyes. It did not enter their consciousness. They were like moles being asked about the habits of birds.”

In the House of Commons debate on the Inquiry Report it was asserted by the Government, on the advice of the NCB and supported by comments in the Tribunal report, that the remaining tips above Aberfan were not dangerous and did not warrant removal, estimated by the Tribunal to cost £3m, but merely required landscaping – a much cheaper option.

The government made a grant of £200,000 to the NCB towards the cost of removing the tips, and under “intolerable pressure” from the government, the Trustees of the Disaster Fund agreed to contribute £150,000.

No NCB staff were ever demoted, sacked or prosecuted as a consequence of the Aberfan disaster or of evidence given to the Inquiry.

 

©robcullenoctober2016

Published RedPoets2019

The Space Left By You.

 

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The space left by you

 

And so the small leaves come fluttering down

to quietly cover the place where you lie now.

 

Your disappearance expected for so long,

all the same has caught us by surprise.

 

Thoughts now occur of the absences

of our talks,  of your  tottering walks,

 

your love of a joke, the ease of your smile,

your anger too for a government – so cruel

 

of its rough trod  way of breaking poor  people,

of trying to destroy, a small community –

 

that birthed you, succoured you, raised you,

and the close knit family from which you grew.

 

And this place left you the memories of its people

until it was time for you, in your way, to leave too.

 

And so the small leaves come fluttering down

to quietly cover the place where you lie now.

 

Peter Lenaghan   2nd August 1938 to 20th September 2019

And so another adventure begins….

 

©robcullenSeptember2019