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Poetry on the Picketline Five Crosses by Janine Booth

Don’t go down to level five
A killer’s prowling in the deep
Stay away and stay alive

Worker bees construct a hive
of industry, where toxins seep
Don’t go down to level five

Profits rise and standards dive
The cost is high, the fall is steep
Stay away and stay alive

Budgets press and masters drive
while workers perish in their sleep
Don’t go down to level five

No work until the masks arrive
What dust will sow the heart will reap
Stay away and stay alive

Bonds are broken, breath deprived
Workmates mourn and loved ones weep
Don’t go down to level five
Stay away and stay alive

A villanelle about the five deaths in the last six months of people who were working at the Crossrail construction site at Bond Street station in London. Workers report that conditions on level 5 are intolerably dusty and unhealthy, while the private contractors who employ them deny that there is a problem.

Poetry on the Picket Line is a squad of like-minded poets putting themselves about to read their work on picket lines, in the spirit of solidarity. Invitations to rallies etc. welcome, contact facebook.com/pg/PicketLinePoets. The new Poetry on the Picketline anthology is available at culturematters.org.uk

 

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