Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mining tragedy at Pike River, New Zealand

SEVENTEEN (In memory of Joseph Ray Dunbar and all those who died in the Pike River Mine, New Zealand.)

Joseph Ray Dunbar was just seventeen.

One week ago - turned seventeen.

No doubt had a few drinks out

with his mates.

He'd been through a rough patch, someone said.

Who doesn't ??!

A boy from the Coast,even-eyed.

But he's gotten a job now.

New boots.

The making of him, someone said.

You get a lot of respect with a job.

Couldn't wait !

Probably had his lunch packed.

The unlined face, the big smile.

Probably had a way with the girls.

The local girls.

Couldn't wait !

The local girls are wearing black.

Mothers and sons and husbands too.

He probably ran the last hundred yards....

Joseph Ray Dunbar.

Climbed aboard and headed on down.

A smile and a wave and a joke amongst men.

The biggest day of Joseph's life.

You caught the train, Joseph.

You took the train too soon.

You caught the train before your time.

(If you want to hear Gary McCormack reciting the poem live, click here:

Photo above: The day after hope was extinguished for the Pike River miners, flowers sit at the memorial for all West Coast miners that have lost their lives at the site of the Burnner disaster on the outskirts of Greymouth.


Donald said...

Bob as usual you go right to the heart of the matter!

Great post - yes great words by Gary too.

Well done



Marja said...

Beautiful words. I met several people today here in Christchurch who cried because of this tragedy. Me included

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Donald

Gary wrote a superb poem and captures the heart of the tragedy.

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Marja

what a national tragedy. There must be so many grieving family and friends, and others like you and I, who feel so helpless to help.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
As the father of a 17 year old probably much like this lad in many ways, this boy in particular has been heavily in my thoughts over this period.
And on this day of Thanksgiving in my original land it reminds me to appreciate the little things as it can all be taken away so very quickly.
Though I did not know any of these fellows personally, as transplanted Kiwi my heart goes out to the families and friends.

Bob McKerrow said...

Yes Robb, a tragivc event. My boss in KL died of a heart attack at 62 less than 2 weeks ago and it makes you realise you have to enjoy every minutes and reach out and do those small things for others that sometimes we forget to do. Bob

Irina said...

´Muy parecida a la tragedia que ocurrió en mi país, la diferencia fueron resultados distintos, todos luchamos por sacar a los nuestros que estaban a 700 metros de profundidad, en un cerro arenoso y una mina celosa, en un lugar que la imaginación de los que no conocen el Desierto de Atacama en Chile, no la pueden imaginar, es una tierra hosca, los 33 mineros salieron con vida, no nos importo cuanto costaba sacarlos, la consigna era "Vivos o muertos", acá no fue los mismo, ni lo uno ,ni lo otro, allí se quedaron para siempre...un abrazo para las madres, esposas, hijos, hijas hermanas

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