Local Poetry

Dreadful Shift  By Phillip Thomas

Poem about the Maypole mining disaster.


Gas contained in tunnels deep
Weeps before the coal
Harbouring where the small lights leap
Flickering on those coals

Souls whose wives and lovers feared
For their images below
Crawling on their hands and knees
In their dim lit hollow

Crushed or gassed or burned alive
That was soon to come
Not one witness to survive
Before the shift was done

It came at five or thereabouts
Loud rumbling neath the ground
And from the shaft flame and smoke
Blackening all around

What was feared now had happened
Stunning near and dearest
Plunging into deepest grief
The worst was what they fearest

The worst it was all were dead
In that allotted tomb
Until some years that lay ahead
The last would be exhumed

History marks this sacrifice
For all of us who live
And remember how they lost their lives
Upon that dreadful shift