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the Dust, the Dust

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the Dust, the Dust

I remember the men,
their faces blackened with filthy coal
layers of carbon dust on skin,
slowly lining their lungs thick.
I think of them in the twilight,
two miles underground
hewing with axe and pick,
shirtless bodies glistening with sweat like morning dew
I see them coming home,
tired of the black
eyes like pissholes in the snow
unaccustomed to the light
and then,
and then their golden voices sing in Male Voice Choirs
in the softest way,
that only they,
the men of the Dust know how
and only they know how,
oh how the Dust will end their days
coughing, spluttering, heaving chest,
gasping for one last struggling final breath
and then,
and then the silence of their corroded lungs
followed by the womens' quiet tears
for another tonne of that damned black coal
one more husband, son and father is laid to rest.

minerscoal miningrhondda valleysouth walespneumoconiosis

Greenwich Meridian Poets? ►


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Steven Dark

Thu 19th Nov 2009 14:49

Thank you Cynthia, it's always nice to 'capture' a lady even with a dark, Demonic poem :)

Chris Co, I agree with your points about the closing of the mines, sad in their own way, and the subsequent loss of community. Something I have written about in my autobiog. (Extracts on my website).

I understand what you mean by 'enjoyable' there doesn't seem to be a suitable adjective to describe the 'enjoyable' emotion one gets from something that is dark, like watching Schindler's List, Sophie's Choice or The Pianist. But I know perfectly well what you mean.

Evocative, meaningful, vivid, graphic - wow! I really am encouraged by the response so far. All I can say is that if I have any talent for writing it comes from the deep, softly lyrical rhythm of Welsh genes (although I don't speak the language - sadly).

Thanks again, your comments are very much appreciated. Sincerely.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 19th Nov 2009 13:12

This is very good. I was totally captured by your vivid descriptions and in-depth feeling about both the mines and the music. 'eyes like pissholes in the snow' is outstanding. I also liked the capitallized personification of Dust, as a godlike demon of the mines. I haven't yet read your response to comments. I'll do that now.

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Steven Dark

Thu 19th Nov 2009 12:33

Thanks guys. Your comments are appreciated.Chris Co, I wholeheartedly accept your take on the subject. Of course coal, like rugby, has shaped the mind and culture of South Wales and during the almost 150 years of active mining in the valleys, the NC 'bloody' B provided a livelihood for many thousands of families but not without the great cost of injury, disease and death. Your piece is perhaps more romantic, maybe more nationalistic and proud (this isn't a criticism just an observation) than mine, but nonetheless also true. Both takes are equally valid and highlight both sides of the same coin. Mining shaped the valleys and its inhabitants physically, culturally and metaphorically and we would not be the people we are without it - good or bad.Thaumaturgically Charged, thanks for your comment - you read it exactly as I meant it to be as a graphic depiction of both the beauty and horror.

<Deleted User> (7073)

Thu 19th Nov 2009 01:19

I liked the graphic way this poem brings images to the mind's eye. My Grand Father was a miner, one of the last who swung a pick.
He died of lung related disease

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