Ernest Bevin got his pound of flesh
as I sucked on my Woodbine,
one of the ‘lucky’ ten percent
who were standing there in line
waiting to be conscripted -
but they decided to assign
me to a living hell
and send me down the mine.
So I toiled for years in darkness
and breathed in black diamond dust,
until my back was broken
along with all the trust
that I had for mother England
and when I came out bust
what I’d endured wasn’t even acknowledged
as the Nazi’s were finally crushed.
I had sucked more than cigarette smoke
into my burning chest
but that was what they blamed it on
when the black lung came to test
my strength once again.
They said ‘we think it’s best
to just cough and bear it,
so it won’t affect the rest’.
You see the mines had become mechanised,
which meant they produced more
and the miners were pretty happy
that they were all getting paid more
and a plague of black lung cases
would have stopped the gears for sure.
I was mortally wounded by the carbon
rather than the carbines of war.
I sit now in a faded armchair
sipping hot, sweet tea.
I try not to revisit hell
in nineteen forty three
and the sacrifice I made
so that these buggers can be free.
There were some, other than soldiers,
who fought for their country.