Poem: Red or White

Herbert Asquith

Watched bullets flail

I will not wear red

Neville Chamberlain

Moved from hail to heil

I will not wear red

Clement Atlee

Tied to a US coat tail

I will not wear red

Harold Wilson

Allowed peace to fail

I will not wear red

Margaret Thatcher

Let a nuclear armada sail

I will not wear red

John Major

Fell for the Kuwait tale

I will not wear red

John Major

Hit Bosnia’s coffin nail

I will not wear red

Tony Blair

Bombs went off the Richter scale

I will not wear red

Tony Blair

He should have gone to jail

I will not wear red

142 million murdered civilians

Can you hear the dead wail?

I will not wear red… I will wear white

Poem: 1981

The hooter booms

The day awakes

Coal trucks rattle past my door

Ice traces faces on the window pane

Memories of what went before.

Dust in my hair

Dust in my nose

Dust in my clothes and mouth

Rats scurry empty

Miners hurry silently

The dawn breaks past my door

Hot tea poured in an old tin mug

Memories of what went before.

Dust in my hair

Dust in my nose

Dust in my clothes and mouth

Cash machine spitting

Newspapers selling

The sun rises past my door

The pit wheel turns and children run

Memories of what went before.

Dust in my hair

Dust in my nose

Dust in my clothes and mouth

The day grinds on

The miners crawl in

Coal dust settles past my door

Rag man yells and old wives polish

Memories of what went before.

Dust in my hair

Dust in my nose

Dust in my clothes and mouth

Dinner-time snap

The kids full o’ spice

Laughter lingers past my door

Coal cutters cutting and babies crying

Memories of what went before.

Dust in my hair

Dust in my nose

Dust in my clothes and mouth

No one really knows

But many more fear

Rumours circulate past my door

The milk snatcher she is snatching

The memories of what went before.

(I lived in the mining village of Darton near Barnsley from 1978 to 1982. It was a thriving, happy and hard-working community. But by the end of 1984 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government had destroyed the mining industry. Darton and many other villages like it have never recovered.)