Navvies by David Cooke

A blasphemous horde of poachers and drinkers
the big money had spawned, they dug their way
through rocks and sodden clay.

Camped out like tinkers, only their brass
was missed when they picked up sticks,
following the track to another day

of squalor, deaths and guarded looks…
From those whose curtained lives
they did not share they earned scant praise

for laying down the future.
In an Age of Progress they were its nomads,
shaping it slowly barrow by barrow

wherever work might lead them.
Country lads and migrants,
their mumbles hard to follow –

who thought of them at all
when the band played and folk
clutched tickets for which they had paid?

David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and has been widely published in the UK, Ireland and beyond. His most recent collection, Work Horses, was published in 2012 by Ward Wood Publishing. His next collection, A Murmuration, will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2015.

David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and has been widely published in the UK, Ireland and beyond. His most recent collection, Work Horses, was published in 2012 by Ward Wood Publishing. His next collection, A Murmuration, will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2015.

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