It's just been confirmed that my friend Chris Morgan has been appointed as Birmingham's Poet Laureate. Well done, Chris. He will be expected to write poems about the city, mentor the Young Poet Laureate, and attend special events. A very prestigious appointment.
With his permission, here is one of Chris’ poems:
THE CAR BODY PLANT
I always cycled in through pre-dawn
gloom, it seemed, for the 7.15 start,
yellow and sweating beneath my cape,
just one of a tide of half-asleeps
flowing into that infernal manufactory,
smoke-city of the blood-red night, each
of us squeezed into a terrifying conformity;
for them, fat pay-packets like an addiction.
My green boiler-suit, APPRENTICE
on chest pocket, possessed me,
marking me out, to be sent
for left-handed screwdrivers, for tubs
of elbow grease, for a laff. My O levels
and RP accent made me an outsider,
fuelled a mutual misunderstanding,
and a soupcon (my word, not theirs) of guilt.
Huge presses shook the floor, crunching
improbable shapes from steel sheets,
Richter six point something as I walked past;
older press operators all lacked
a finger, blood sacrifice to inattention;
hearing dimmed by decades of carcrash;
I never asked about their hearts or souls.
On assembly lines, spotwelding guns
were like futuristic weapons from a movie,
spitting chains of sparks across gangways
as their superhero crab-claws pinched,
and the air smelled sharply of lung-
destroying metal dust. Always loud hissing
and screeching, as of dying breaths,
as bodies were tortured into shape.