Places No One Wants To Go (Shout out to my Ex.)

by Mark Kogan Shawcroft

Driving though the road that splits the old Coalite site
A plant that created smokeless fuel
A plant the created Agent Orange for the Vietnam war
A plant that allegedly put dioxins in soil
Killed some cows and spoiled some milk
Ended up stealing workers pensions.
Constantly failing to give a good account of itself
Not really its fault though
It wasn’t born ugly.

Is this a complete shit hole or just a dirty secret ?

A place that’s hangs signs
European funding
Creation of jobs
Keep out!

Well for years I kept in
Stepping over barbed wire
Looking in streams running through concrete
Copper liquid coming up with the rain
Hares hidden beneath gorse blankets.

Rusty razor wire booby traps
Cut to the bone
I carried 7 stone of dog
2 slippery miles to the car.

Paths that led nowhere
The bridge over the M1
The rail track rusting
Sleepers stolen.
Transporting my merry way.

I would pretend it was the apocalypse
My dogs joined in
Once I ran into a man holding a falcon
He would not say hello.

Great pipes appear occasionally
From the ground in the fields
To let something out
I have no idea what
I told my son
Breathing holes for dragons
He called down to them
Magic right here.

Peoples scars in the land
Silver birches grow alone
Their feet bedded in slate
Banked by a slag pit
Where orchids shimmer.

Black and white blurs return
Banking and diving
Turning in an instant
One almost clipped the hedgerow
Then dissolved into the sky.

Small fields of willow
Half of it pulped.
Who knows why
Nettles rushing forth.

Steel toe capped boot
Buried in the mud by the reeds.
The ghosts of miners
Appear on occasion.
Their tracks and mine.

Then golden wheat fields.
Corridors to coal dust floors
Where a deer sprung
Hearts racing a rare treat.

Casual circles of concrete
Tend grass and flowers
Bent pole in water
Bouncing sun of the heron.

I have forgotten why I was pissed off
Shouting it’s spring
The great patriarchs are here
Their mouths crammed full of dandelion heads.

Now a place deemed too ugly
It is getting a face lift
Some of it’s already gone
I suppose I should be thankful
Not only to the new top soil
Keeping the chemicals at bay
But for being there when I needed it
On the day my dog passed away
Sitting in the rain
On this just slightly toxic soil
A wonderful tonic
For separation anxiety.

The journey’s not stopping anywhere
I still visit this place
Sitting in its new Starbucks
A beautifully bitter aroma
It’s still finding new ways to take care of me
As nostalgia turns to gratitude
Not so much of a dirty secret
More a shout out to my ex.