Poems. By Bruce Harris.
Doing Ones Bit
Of course were concerned, who wouldnt be? I think we have a duty
to treat the world responsibly, not reduce it all to garbage.
We try to practise what we preach; the day to day things matter;
theres nothing worse than lip service; inertias not an option.
Of course, a solid four by fours inevitable for the moment;
even with the bloody thing, the school run can be a nightmare;
the children simply wont be seen in some commercial rep Mondeo
and Mums too frail to bump about in some claustrophobic rear.
Of course it isnt necessary to fly around everywhere;
we do try to restrict ourselves to just a few a year.
I never can feel comfortable while sitting there emitting
And I generally follow the spirit of greater firma, lesser terra.
Of course, there are some places which you simply have to fly to
or half the holiday has gone while you mess about in trains;
they do need tourist lucre, lets be perfectly frank;
theres not much point in lovely air if youre sitting in a mud hut.
Of course we keep an eye on power; we do have bills to pay;
the whole house cant be glaring out like some giant Christmas tree.
People really have to try not to be so bloody greedy;
we have to share the goodies round, not scoff them all ourselves.
Of course, the kids on one computer is a recipe for disaster;
hes buzzing with his tanks and planes while shes on high street fashion
and, honestly, Giles would struggle now without his big screen plasma;
like the very first car, he says; once had, cant do without.
Of course we must recycle; what else can we do?
We cannot turn the planet into one great stinking tip.
What kind of desperate legacy are we giving to our children
if the landscape they look forward to is a festering pollution pile?
Of course, dividing up the stuff is maddening and confusing,
and in the post-do debris, the tins finish with the papers;
Jen will simply pull a face at any hint of compost
and Giles thinks carrying bottles around is strictly for the winos.
It has to be commitment now; the emergency is here;
now has got to be the time to stand up and be counted.
Perhaps there have to be some ways where the process must be gradual
but goodness me, were getting there, were up and on our way.
You Know - Him
He thinks the Firth of Forth is a number sequence
and a wee dram a small percussion instrument.
He thinks Newcastle is two minutes from the border
and believes Rob Roy to be a kind of larceny.
Shortbreads and tartans, bagpipes and heather,
he swallows every single PR cliché
and if the subject of Scotland ever enters conversation
hell hoots mon obligingly along with all the rest.
The same species exist in the north-east of England.
They think the Venerable Bedes a kind of precious necklace,
and have the Miners Gala down as a picnic for the kiddies
and Northumberland a kind of suburb outside Hull.
Cloth caps and whippets, terraces and slag heaps,
always on the BBC with brass bands on the soundtrack;
people who go on about their trizers and their hizes
criticising people who speak with funny accents.
And down here in Devon, where Ive fetched up for the warmth,
you see and hear them still, braying where theyre staying,
going oh, arr, oh, arr, just like Long John Silver,
all their daily pronouns suddenly oy or moy.
It tends to be a state of mind, its adjective, not noun,
being equipped with glasses which see only stereotypes,
being far too lazy to allow for complications,
experiencing travel as a narrowing of the mind.
Millie Elliot - Learning the Drill
Millie shouts out Mum, Im home and mutters at long last,
her leotard carelessly flung on the front hall easy chair.
One more day as a ballet girl has eventually and painfully past
and she can read again the mining books she keeps in her teenage lair.
A poster of a blasthole drill is secreted under her bed
and photos of heavy duty stopers hidden under her unitard;
her future is clear enough in her mind even though its never been said
and isnt likely soon to be; all mining talk has been barred.
Its just not reet, lass, Dad had said, pronouncing the subject closed;
theres only our pit left these days, theres no more jobs to be had,
while thousands of ballet girls are there to be properly rehearsed and posed
and youll always fetch a weekly wage; just be told by your dear old dad.
Entrechats will bring bacon home, glissades put bread on table;
pneumatic drills and underground loaders wont keep your toddlers fed;
we all start thinking what we might and end up with what were able
and it wont matter anyway when youve met a chap and are safely wed.
So Millie bravely en pointed on, though sometimes on the exercise bar
she could close her eyes and see the rock drills swathing a way through the seam;
she gave her grande battements the best she had, keeping them up to par
while knowing that only the shifts and shafts could really fulfil her dream.
And then one desperate winter night in the collierys dark and grime
an access tunnel suddenly gave way and collapsed into piles of rubble
trapping seventeen men behind, who were soon running out of time
because the shrinking pockets of air would lead quickly to deathly trouble.
One of thems our cousin George, and anothers our nephew Dean,
said Millies dad, and what can we do, to save them from such a fate?
Ill put on a tutu, should I, Dad, and demi-detourne off to the scene,
saving a ronde de jambe for the pit and hoping Im not too late,
Millie said with an edge to her voice that silenced her fathers noise.
She took herself off to the accident spot with her pictures under her arm
and there she saw, just standing around, disconsolate men and boys
saying the drilling rig was bust and trying to keep cool and calm.
Millie looked at the Boomer T1 D and then at her detailed designs.
The piston end sprockets arent aligned; its as plain as the nose on your face,
she said with a tut of withering scorn for the so-called experts on mines
and after shed effected a quick repair, the drilling went on apace
with Millie taking a driving turn until all the trapped men were out.
Burn them tutus and leotards, Dad shouted out with pride
as the whole relieved village gathered around and, giving a mighty shout,
cheered the heroine all the way home with a triumphant shoulder ride.
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