From the Coal Face by Jack Little

After W.S. Graham


I know about coal, that black treasure shafted tight

to Earth, deepening within seams a thousand feet

below strong-bellied fathers, chasms of candle light

rooted and extracted from the face. The bree of pit pony

where hewers cackle from their sides, stigmaria

of fossilised kiss, canaries caged under our soles

happy not to smell your whitedamp, nor to perceive

the faces of the lost men of Redcar, of Seaham


Jack Little (b. 1987) is a British-Mexican poet, editor and translator based in Mexico City. He is the author of ‘Elsewhere’ (Eyewear, 2015) and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press. He was the poet in residence at The Heinrich Böll Cottage on Achill Island in the west of Ireland in July 2016. Find Jack on Twitter: @JLittleMexico

Photo: Alec Aarons from “Last Man Turn the Light Off”

This photograph is part of Alec Aarons’ series “Last Man Turn the Light Off”, a response to the closure of the UK’s last deep coal mine. He documented the end of the industry and the subsequent dismantling of the mining community, focusing on the remains of coal mining history in his native Yorkshire. The rest of his images can be found:

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