(after Horace Ode1.35 O diva, gratum)
Chance guides everything in Ironopolis.
Round here, we say, that’s life; it’s just a fluke.
You make it or you end up on the scrap heap.
All we ever ask’s an even break.Old ironmen just want a fighting chance,
and so do those who’re not of steely stock.
All of us who live here by the Tees
pray we’ll have another stroke of luck.
We all got on our bikes in nineteen fifty
and pedalled way beyond our cast-iron world.
We left the north in droves; the intelligentsia
and the workers and the bosses. Everyone
needs Fortune, even poets. That’s the reason
they huddle close together in a scrum
of seething academic literati
in case scholastic posts should tumble down.
And always here, the mother of invention
with hand-me-downs, and let’s make-do-and-mends.
Her never-mind, we’ll make the best of it;
her let’s-forget-it shrugs black-lead her eyes.
Fortune’s left the North-East coast, it seems,
but loyal to old ways, we still have hope,
(if only in small pockets). We hang on,
we stand and watch while chance flies out the door.
The good-time-girls and entrepreneurial chancers,
the short-term do-good-Johnnies, all have gone:
Even friends who shared each other’s burdens
have disappeared now the trough’s run dry.
God bless our Teesside poets and politicians
Who stick their necks out trying to spread a word
of optimistic caution about the north.
Let’s hope along the line, they shake things up.
And shame on us up here who dump our own,
then join the trendy set of dog-eat-dog.
We rifle what we can and leave the scars;
forget what makes us great and run away.
Our young fear nothing now, not consequence
nor fate nor God, so, Fortune, please come back
from oily eastern shores. Re-hone us all.
Re-fabricate your workers and your bards.