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Helen Jones



The wheel is cleaned and polished,

Black soul scrubbed out,

Its perfect roundness hard as fact,

Made to contain the misery and death,

As if clean lines encompass all,

Make us forget.


Around it, history has been erased.

The signs that tell of struggle are long gone.

No clinging dust, no fear of sirens howl,

But clean square lines and gardens growing

Regimented flowers.

No black chained ghosts go tramping home from shift,

But workplace roofs that flash in winter sun

Leaving only

A few ragged memories

Shivering in the blood.


A derby match that day,

Men swapped their shifts,

A fairness from equality of fear.

No grace rewards the kindness given here.

They enter the strange lottery of death.


Mt grandad, blinking in the sharpened light,

Up from Llay Main,

Sent home to scrub away skin-scarring dust.

Men must be cleansed to board the pristine bus

That takes them to the maw

Of stinking death.


Resentment coils through generations,

Seps down the years,

An inquiry twisted like a malformed tree,

Courts blank, uncaring,

Records long destroyed,

Lives priced at nothing,

So the memory stays.


As a child I saw

Old ladies still in mourning black,

Scraping a life from the disaster fund,

My grandad, lungs obstructed,

Clogged with death

Struggled to reach the garden gate.

Bronchitis written as the cause of death.


All of these memories will die with me.

My son has never seen a pit.

Yet the bodies lie under Farndon, grandad said,

Bones of remembrance,

In a Cheshire village

Indifferent to death.



Helen Jones © 2022

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