A visit to Margam steelworks

A Visit to Margam Steelworks

(i)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Roads meandering
Imposing structures
Imposing structure
Meandering roads
Giant Nostrils
Disgorging Clouds
Winds disturbing
Black noxious dust
Railway tracks
Slow-down bumps
Black puddles
Yellow jacks
Distance
Miles
Lives
Lived
Bad
Smell
Taste
Sound
Sight.
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 (ii)
FAT FLIES
Fat flies in the portacabin office
cheeky flies
flies with confident looks
licking their feet on
the mayonnaise roll
Un-noticing she eats
and she talks
about her chalet
in the South of France
and about how
these days they fly
instead of drive
it’s not because
they’re getting older
it’s because
they get more time
in the sun
because
they get there quicker
Later –
there is a smell of silicon
and a metal can
spits its guts
into the atmosphere
The flies go away
for another day
but it would have been better
if she’d done it before lunch
long before
The humans cough for a bit
They go home.
#
(iii)
PAVAROTTI’S PIPES
Pipes as wide as Pavarotti
and as long as –
“The Royal Variety Performance”
carrying
“Toxic Gas”
in their twists and turns
They arch the road
and arrogant sea birds
tip toe on top of them,
it could be a “sign of rain”
but then this place
is very close to
the sea anyway,
so you’d expect gulls
In some factory somewhere
there is a man
hacking and scraping
creating a pipe
big enough for Pavarotti
and no doubt
dreaming
about his coming holiday
in the sun
on the beach
by the sea
Side.
#
(iv)
BLEATING
Seagulls bleating
in their particular way
on the roof
inside a crazy man
a controlled craziness
and only during
work hours
or sometimes down the pub.
Bleating – like a sheep.
Bleating – and his companion laughing –
and saying
“You DO have to be mad to work here”
but he’s not listening –
this bleating man.
He’s too busy talking –
about agricultural shows
and how he’s booked a holiday
to attend one
in Pembrokeshire.
He’s got to go – he says
he takes the piss
out of his colleagues
on the phone
accusing them
of
bringing
the Hot Mill to a stop
because they made cups of tea
for all and sundry.
Because taking the piss is part of the process.
He’s got to go
he says
to the agricultural show
because
he says “I need to buy”
and who can blame him
because
after forty-odd years
of
wasting his humanity
on this shit
he needs to put in
a holiday request form
and either die
or go to shows and buy.
#
(v)
PHONES ARE FOR PLEASURE TOO
The temp with the smooth skin
glides into the office
she is young
with clean hair
and her voice is soft –
soft but tainted already
with this toxic life
and I’m sitting
at the keyboard
pretending
to work
while the virus
scanner’s scanning
their computer
on my behalf
And a fat man of thirty-odd
comes into the office
with that
red-faced energy
you see sometimes
in fat men of thirty-odd
He’s come to pick up a mobile phone
so the company
can keep in touch
and he turns it in his hand
like a nest-fallen chick
and he shrugs –
he doesn’t like it
it feels too rubbery
and it looks too modern
But the girl with the smooth pink cheeks
takes a fancy
to its newness
and particularly likes
its polyphonic ringtones
that match
the lightness
of her skin
And she remarks that:
half of the company’s mobile phones
are being used for pleasure
And the fat man laughs
as he imagines
but still refuses
to take the phone.
#
(vi)
THE AIR IS STALE BUT WE’RE STILL BREATHING
The air on the landscape seems stale
but it’s just the smell of the coal dust
and the remnants of toxic gas
disturbed by the wind from the sea
something they cannot control
despite the man-high fans
and the mile-long ducting
So –
they continue
with their papers
and reports
and keep pretending
that the peace
can be shattered
by a tiny terrorist
when they know
that
it would take a nuke
the size of Swansea
to make
a dent
They hold the power
with a nod
This place could die
Today
# # #

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