Hey everyone.  This poem is the result of time spent with Kate a fellow Wordsmith from the Northern English town of Barrow  or to give it its full title Barrow In Furness. I met Kate at the Glasgow Writers Group when she was visiting the city to see a friend which she does on fairly frequent basis. After the group she was asking for directions to the Yes Bar for a quiet drink and possibly to go and see some comedy so as a yes voter who knew the bar well i walked with her to the venue. Having done  my good dead for the night  a woman who i hope will not be a stranger to Glasgow  Writers Group returned the favour by inviting me in for a drink. During our chat she told all about her home town and the feeling of hopelessness  in it since the end of the cold war. Hopefully the election of Jeremy Corbyn whom she respects as a man of principle will give her  hope of a better future the town she loves.  i have titled  the poem Fallout  i hope you enjoy the read.


My drinking companion said she was from Barrow
A Labour town with a Labour MP
Though in many ways socially conservative
A people set in their ways
It’s not a town that people leave she informed me
their attitude is why would you
believing they have all they need
to sustain them in their comfort zone
there are lots of Scots in Barrow she said
they came down to work in the shipyards
help to build trident to keep Britain safe
It gave them a sense of purpose, pride, and place.
then the cold war ended
along with the old certainties they knew
having an enemy was good for business
It made them feel proud of their Britishness
as the situation changed they felt estranged
displaced by circumstances
from this bold new dawn
In the chill of the morning
the yards shed 10,000 jobs
and countless lives
some took knives to slit their wrists
others gassed themselves in their cars
the fall of the wall had casualties way beyond Berlin
the Soviet threat diminished
this northern English town felt the pain
of being dependent on diplomatic war games
as their main source of industry
workers stripped of their dignity now signing on to survive
reliant on welfare provision
proof of the political division
between North and South
Labour red against Conservative Blue
but nobody leaves Barrow
why would you they claim
they have all they need
they don’t do greed
they just survive
In their comfort zone with few if any comforts
preferring to live the town where staying alive
is considered an achievement
and the fallout from changes
in places they had only seen on TV
scattered ashes
in the graveyard which signalled
the death of their tomorrows

@ Gayle Smith 2015


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