Pit Poetry from Poets at Darfield Museum
Poems for National Coal Mining Museum for England from Poets at Darfield Museum
We wrote a group sonnet about a mining disaster. I like writing poems with a group because they’re a collective endeavour just like mining is.
I wandered past the unturning pit wheel
Where my dad worked his shift hewing coal out
While mam was at home and the babby squealed
And grandad came in all tanked up with stout.
I remember that day the sirens sang,
Over the rooftops and round Tommy’s tomb.
We all went white when the coal-owner rang;
Mam grabbed her coat, ran out of the room.
The crowds on the street prepared for their grief;
The stillness took up the breath of the moon,
The audible silence beyond belief,
The brass band’s rehearsal lost every tune.
Then dad stepped out to my mother in tears:
Stuck in my mind though pit’s been shut for years.
We wrote these poems individually, using the Japanese haiku form of three lines with the first line having five syllables, the second line seven syllables and the third line five syllables. The haiku are written from the point of view of the coal.
Once warming, now redundant
Windmills now turning
Darkening years underground
Black as a raven
From the depths of earth
Once safe in mother’s keeping
Now replaced by wind
When I start to burn
An old forest is falling
Into time’s long fire
King Coal was my name
Keeping you warm all these years
No longer wanted
Heavy my blackness
Heaved up by filthy pitmen
To line silk pockets
A hundredweight bag
Stuck on the back of a truck
Is my home for now