AFTER A ROOF FALL
written by: Grendad
‘Any 'osses under?’ And laughter rang around
For months I never saw the joke when we were underground.
I knew full well the ponies were already safe in stall.
A kindly miner told me later what amused them all.
"Years ago when roof fell in the Gaffer would ring down
Not asking if the men were safe, they were five for half a crown
But pit ponies cost much, much more and then they had to train
Unwilling horses to comply and this was all a bane.”
Men queued to sell their lives for bread and such a meagre crust
Young and older worked and died of injuries and dust.
I read throughout the 'twenties two thousand died each year
I wondered if the mine owners had ever shed a tear.
Perhaps they did when ponies died, they faced a greater cost
They never heard the widows cry when miner's lives were lost.
'Cause when the men were killed or maimed, no compensation paid,
No plaque or cross or headstone upon their grave was laid.
The host of grieving widows got through as best they could
With little on the table to feed their hungry brood.
And when the game was over, the pits had closed and gone
Her government victorious, her battle had been won,
We learned to live on less and less, enduring sneers and spite,
Adjusting to a different life as day would turn to night.
But in my days spent underground I learned of how and why
We lived like men in shackles bound who never saw the sky.
I hear the voice that said to me when I was in a suit
‘They are not folk like you and I.’ I could have killed the brute.
And that's how they regarded us, ‘The enemy within.’
The folk who'd never had to work, who drank their daddies gin.
‘They are not folk like you and I,’ I like to think that's true
We'll never, ever be like them the chinless, privileged few.
They'll keep their power and the wealth; they'll hide behind their lies
But all of us will see the day, that day we close our eyes,
When we are weighed in judgement, when none of us are spared
And on that day when truth will out we'll see then who is scared.
We'll see who stands before the Throne with head held high or low
We'll see who has to grovel then to pay for every blow
That was inflicted on the poor, the contempt they once held
For those who dug the wealth for them, who poverty compelled
To touch our caps, avert our eyes, and stand for ever small
We'll see who smiles and even laughs when that last trumpet calls.
A short piece of writing helped get me out of the pit after nine years working on the coal face.
I have been Chair of Malvern Writers' Circle and have two of my books selling on Amazon and various other sites.
Married at eighteen and widowed forty years later I came to Malvern and shortly after married a local woman who has made me the luckiest and happiest of men.