Sunday 13 November 2011

A Wee Poem: Lignite

You dig it up.
It’s been buried for years –
millions of them.
It used to be trees.
They must have been beautiful.

You burn it.
The smoke makes patterns.
Dark blue on sky blue.
People see things.
Beautiful things.
Some people
claim to see trees.

Others stare into the ashes
Trying to rekindle the memory
Of a moment’s warmth.


  1. I like it, Andy.

    And not only because I've spent the entire day sorting the remains of a roof caved in by last winter's snow and donated to us for firewood. Same sentiment, in a way. 'How many times will this wood be handled on its way the fireplace? Cut from woodland; sawn in a timberyard; put up by joiners; ripped up by joiners; carted by a JCB to a pile by our fence; sorted into gash and useful. I'm sweating already. In the firelight, I'm asleep, near enough.

    In the ashes, I too, would struggle to remember what warmth really was, never mind all the history that brought it into my house. Could be a hundred years that roof stood since it went up. A hundred and fifty. Wrestled into shapes of diminisihing meaning. Torched in an instant.

    Memory. You've said it. A moment's warmth.



  2. I like this. I wasn’t sure about the short, clipped lines at first but it adds a gruff tension to the piece that I think works. It’s a poem you want to shudder after reading and I regard that as a plus, a poem that takes you to the edge and then, give you a wee shove so that you don’t fall but think you might. The title is okay but I think I might have gone with ‘Rosebud Coal’ myself purely because of the Citizen Kane connection. But that’s me.

  3. Thanks, Jim. Stripped back to the bone, that's what I was going for - if I was going for anything! The words just came out. Didn't need much of a rewrite. I think it works.