Been Here Before (title poem from a booklet by Keith Melbourne and myself) I’ve been here before – passed the ‘ommers pounding pounding to bost the eardrums and shake the ground high above the deep mines where pit ponies spent dead dark lives beneath the dust and gas pulling half-ton trucks on dulled metal tracks… I’ve been here before – where children sat in joined-up desks scratching joined-up writing on black slates reciting, reciting, reciting the twelve-times table uncomfortably sewn into shabby rags ‘til spring-cleaning urged the cast of clout and May flowers forced through grime into the smog-laden sun-free day. I’ve been here before – mother scrubbing grit from father’s back the tin tub warm before the range scum-ready for each next bather emptied onto runner beans and potato plots or trickled to the muddy gutter under the line of greyed-out shirts and socks out by the backyard lavvy wall. I’ve been here before – fingernail scraping ice from inside the bedroom window to view the gloom shivering with a cool water wash the cold damp towel leaving undried hairs bristling on goose-pimpled skin. Watching mother on a Monday wash-day, proud of her brand new washing machine churning the darking, soapy water round and back, round and back, the rolling-pin rollers of the electric mangle spring-loaded for when fingers were caught, those cold, wet, red sausages at the end of the rolled up working-arms. I’ve been here before. This is a nice house, this.