Blackball Ballad

  

Stop and listen stranger

switch off your mobile

turn off your pager

stand and listen to the ghosts

of yesterdays

because the past is never dead

it is embedded in your cells

in every act of your days

in every choice you face

the ghosts of Blackball

of Dobson and Brunner

Davy and Strongman

whisper and mutter

asking the question:

How many tons did we dig up?

How many shovels go in a ton?

Where are the medals,

the ribbons and titles

to honour our muscles

that powered fires

steamships and rails?

because

west coast coal

burns best

west coast coal gives

as good as it gets

west coast coal lights up

the  flame

of solidarity.

beware of dangers

when the flame flickers

when the beam creaks 

and the earth shudders

pray for your lives

when the tubs roll

too fast to dodge

when the rocks fall

blocking the way

when the men cough

gasping for breath

when the dark gets

blacker than black

How many million tons did we dig?

How many shovelful makes a ton?

How many tons since 1864?

no time to wash

no time to eat

squatting or kneeling

no time to rest

to take a breath

nine years of asking

give us a break

let us sit down

to eat our bread

to wipe our hands

calloused and black

all pleas negated

by the bosses

we were no fools

we had no choice

we were no fools

we downed our tools

because

west coast coal

burns best

west coast coal gives

as good as it gets

west coast coal lights up

the  flame

of solidarity.

  

Eva Brown

N© 2009 Bovinewaste.co.nz
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