Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hopscotch on the Metal Men


Hopscotch on the metal men,
dainty do the buckled shoes
hop where clogs were scorched,
in the tapped bot's searing flows.

Of all the cowboy horses, or
the girls' skipping faster tally,
who will remember the copper works,
or the spelter men of the valley?

The slate roofed veins that run, 
along with the children to their quarry,
their joy unbounded, outcropped hard,
over a slag and cinder furnace dowry.

Render new, as you may, the stone cottages
of Taplow terrace, or along Rifleman's row,
but the sweating muscled ghosts will stir
and blur the memories now, of how

there was the Devil's smoking works,
fed by the cobbled turning tracks,
where the bread and dripping men 
were ground down by their tasks.

Smelted into the fabric of their lives,
in days numbered by the ton,
and mums in scrubbing doorsteps warn,
"just wait until your dad gets home my son!".

Under a new gentrified pentimenti,
ripples the strata of works in toil.
"Remember", the pallid grasses call,
the metal, the slag, the rags and oil.

Grime tattooed and weeping beneath,
or in each wall, or crumbling rotten jetty,
they lie upon the river Tawe, time a minded
how their anguish laid, the foundation of our city.

Look around, below, above - just there!
But you'll not see them. Yet, whispered
down in time, they toll the rent you pay
in tears, for the homes they once revered.

Upon this strata black bled slag, the
ochre cinder's Cinderella children,
feel the wheel of times long ago, 
ere now the chiming hour, when
we flee from thrall, or fall upon,
the wretched witching hour.

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