Monday, 26 June 2017

Tips of the tongue

<Audio>

I knew the slag-tips, my memory child.
Knew them as I knew the back of my bed.
Then they craned away some hardcore,
and the more my landscape changed.

I found it again as the crane slept
with its windows boarded up.
I saw beneath the strata,
the black slag and the ochre ash.
In the midden black I cut out
the jam jars of the potted past.
The stoneware ginger beer bottles,
empty of cheer in the caesarean slash.

Shivering on my window still they stand.
Refugees. But that's not all they say.
"Doctor Kilmer's Swamp Root Kidney Cure"
on one chewing gum ancient glass,
"my arse!" ran the child's humour away
down a memory, on a temporary road,
delightfully not so sure-footed,
careering on the edge.

Foothills with the white grass nests of mice,
sedge gullies squeezed oozed hidden frogs.
Then step through. The black glass slag is clinking 
grubby pennies, spilled by the dirty hands
that grabbed industry's bags of gold,
and left this child's slag-mind a map.
However hard the history underfoot,
on boy's and girl's own stony ground,
against all the odds they flowered there.

Of all the unexpected places, they sit
upon a castellated circle, a red brick crown.
Each allotted a gang seat in this council 
of child-adults saying it, see?
A remnant in secret, a gun emplacement,
and WWII has no place in this fairy tale.
Gingham dressed girls,
and short-trousered boys,
know that something bigger will whisper,
when they are grown and far away.
From memory's lips the truth will tip
and a cool breeze will kiss their lips.

Their childhood crumbled with the tips.
Many a keystone fatefully dislodged.
Many an edifice sent crumbling down,
pulping the salad days.
Under a foundation of hard slag 
the bloody knees ran contrary.
Beating the boundaries the slag kids
annealed the glaze of the "then" days.
Memories set aside, inside, to visit
again, and again, and again.

I am doing that right now with you.

When I went back recently 
it was all gone. Everything.
Every single thing.

Come on gang! This way ...


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