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HomePoetry StoriesJourney Underground and the Men of the Mine

Journey Underground and the Men of the Mine

Tags: down, pit men, knew, worked,

A re-working of a story into a poem.

Journey Underground and The Men of the Mine

Grumpy old men on the 4am shift.
Would mumble and grumble,
till given short shrift.
But jokers and jesters and pranksters
would then follow,
making bitter pills of work,
more easier to swallow.

We'd cram in the cage like fish in a tin,
until they couldn't jam, any more of us in.
You’d feel the chocks clunk,
away from the keps,
hanging in space,
and dampening your keks.

The bells would then ring announcing the ride,
the waiting I really, couldn’t abide.
Then down we'd all plummet,
like rocks off a ledge,
the strength of your friends,
holding you up, wedged.

The Yard Seam a flash,
of quick light in the dark,
the speed of the drop,
made some people yark.
Your balls would tighten up,
till you felt your ears pop,
as the cage slowed right down,
and we came to a stop.

Back on with the keps,
to keep us all tight,
an abyss at
our feet, as we wait to alight.
Then up with the gates
as we'd all spill out,
a hundred and fifty-odd men,
starting to shout.

Then quick round the corner,
a walk to the landing,
to catch the Manset Train,
to do all our travelling.
Three to one side,
and three to the other,
we’d sit and we’d joke,
friend and brother.
Quizzes and card games,
a means to an end,
Mars Bars and Snickers,
we’d play for as we'd wend.

John, the Loco-Guard,
a strange one its true,
but kind and gentle,
who never said much to you,
would walk down the line
and then he would shout,
“Theres away with the Loco!”
and the train would move out.

First, the Sea Winnings,
the North Brass Thill,
The Five Quarter Landing,
North Main and Maudlin.
At last we were all where we needed to be,
eleven miles out and under the Sea.
North by North East and following the Seam.

Now all the men, who worked in the Mine,
a cast list of players, all waiting in line.
There was Flapper, Tapper, and Snapper as well.
Jimmy, Geordie, Doddsy and Mel.
Sammy, Robbie, Bobby and Blackie.
Johnny, Ronnie, Willie and Mackie.
Quite a few lurkers,
yet still they were workers,
and wise-guys in their millions,
too many to count.

A Magician called Merlin when you wanted any gear,
would wave a magic wand and materials would appear.
Ritcha would argue over a chockwood he needed,
all red in the face, and blowing up a Tempest.
Huffing and puffing, red hat a-wobbling,
he'd storm up the roadway, muttering and cursing.

Big Tom, The Manager, a real stand up guy,
there’s managers and Managers, but Tom, He was fly,
he suffered no fools, or sycophants or yes-men.
He liked task men who worked, not shirkers or flask-men.

There was wee Jimmy White on the West Tee Bee 80,
toothless yet able to still chew his baccy.
Dont push him too far, you'll get a thump to the
with a yard prop or a fist, or whatever was handy.

He waited at the Bunker with his lamp out, in the dark.
Till the big bully who'd abused him, just for a lark,
came round the corner, all noisy and laughing,
Jimmy hit him the once, and once more, for good measure.
We all cheered for Jimmy, and then hooted with pleasure,
at the big bully brought low, by a man of small stature.

There was John "The Mad Monk", no funnier guy,
working with him and the hours would fly.
Coal Bunkers with water, sometimes were filled,
with liquid and him, cos he'd 'fallen in!'
So he made like Ethel Merman, and decided to swim.
He swam the whole length of the bunker and back,
but we were the ones drowning,
with laughter, cough and hack.

Whatever the hardship that we all endured,
were always made less by the humour we shared.
we'd laugh and we'd josh, and we'd laugh once again,
till only the memories of the humour remains.
I think of the guys I worked with and knew,
men of sound character, good, through and through.

There was "Billy-big-boobs," or "Bungalow Bill",
but never to his face cos looks can sometimes kill.
he could hold you aloft to shout in your face
then drop you in a heap and still run a race.

There were Undermanagers and Colliery Overmen,
Face Overmen and Deputies,
and last but not least,
all of the Power Loading teams.

Transport Men and Transport Lads,
shouting like crazy on the phones and the D.A.C.'s.
Whoever decided, to put the phone by the fan, get lost
and please, don’t ever come back.
With pleas and commands, they'd give all their calls,
ready to bring another load up to the Wall.

Expletives and swearwords too mucky to print,
all of them delivered, with a mad-eye-glint.
"Inbye! Outbye!", or "There's Away!" they'd all shout.
Two rings to go in, and three rings to come out,
with a four in the front for the tiniest touch,
you see the trams didnt stay on the tracks very much.

Those tracks were laid down on the roads and in mind,
guidelines for materials and all of our young lives.
The Pit would be there for eternity, we all thought,
not knowing that soon, everything would be lost.
We worked as we played, so hard and so fast.
Miners today? A thing of the past!

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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