Manchester-moments and musings on the Lancashire cotton mills and the cotton famine. 1862.

These red bricks, these tall chimneys,

Coloured by their blood, shaped by the hands of their children

Carried on their rugged shoulders and working class calves.

We don’t look up enough, we don’t marvel at what they gave us.

These edifices echo with their pain and suffering

Voices of our forefathers, sinewed souls of our ancestors

They built their empires in cotton and coal so that we could enjoy

The fruits of their labours and be forever known as the workshop of the world.


Salford, Stalybridge, Manchester, Blackburn, Wigan-working that weft

Darwen, Accrington, Chorley, Preston, winding that bobbin up.

And the roll call falters, unemployment, hunger, desperation, and impoverishment

They stood together arm in arm, hand in hand, through protest and starvation,

To demonstrate their love and pride for another brother in another place.

We should stand tall for we stand on the shoulders of giants

They gave us humility, compassion, work ethic and pride.

True northern spirit and true northern soul.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

Featured image from the public domain labelled for reuse. Horrockses Cotton Mill Preston.

Other images are my own.

This journey into the cotton famine was a soulful journey and I am very proud of the stance taken by the Lancashire millworkers and the sacrifices they made. We were encouraged to look at soul for poetics at d’Verse. 

I have edited this and made some changes.







The legacy of a superhero.

Hopes and dreams like ripples across the water,

The moon casts it light surreal across the surface.

An abundance of voices remember and connect.

Your existence and your inner beauty left a shadow on my life

You reach beyond the grave and you continue to create your magic

Through my footfalls and my hands.

And through the light that continues to shine in the eyes of all those whom you touched.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

We had a prompt on d’Verse and it was about “super” and of course I think our lives and pasts are actually littered with so many superheroes and I think they leave a living legacy in that they touch our lives and change who we are and what we become.

I learned about the heroes of the cotton famine this week, and it made me proud of my ancestors, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and it is sad to say goodbye to Prof Hawking who has been a true superhero to so many. This poem was written about Princess Diana. The images at the bottom relate to the heroes of the Cotton Famine the Lancashire Cotton Mill workers.

The image of Diana was from the public domain and able to be reproduced.

The power of hope.

If I had a superpower it would be to spread some hope

To give our world a super boost and help us all to cope.


If I had a superpower it would be to nourish true insight

The gift to see the light within ourselves that shines so truly bright.


If I had a superpower I would gladly share it with you all

I would spread some love like fairy-dust and make our troubles small.


If I had a superpower it wouldn’t be to make things right

But to help all those who struggle to “not give up their fight”.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse poetics where we were asked to consider the word “super”

I think as a race we are at our best when we work together and when what we want to achieve is for the greater good.










My own flock of birds…

Here they silently speak my language

Share my passion for puns

Take pride in a past that is a portrait

Of my heritage and the story of my blood.


Here I belong

The names of the rivers and valleys and mountains

Are etched as clearly in my mind as the rugged landscapes

That call out my name on wild and windy mornings

and stir my restless spirit from its slumbers.


Irwell, Ribble, Eden, Lune

Here the waters wash away my whispers

Pendle, Cribden, Criffel, Shap

Here the shale and slate smooths away my fears.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse poetics.





Burning bridges.

The salmon pink sky

The smell of spring lingers

Snow high up on the fells

If I burned my bridges

By coming home…


I gained new ground

Garnered new worths

And accept the light shining forth

Is different to the light that I imagined.


©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse quadrille and we were asked to consider burn.



Dystopian grey….

It was a very grey holiday, there were some bits of bright blue sky and sunlight reflecting on the freshly fallen snow but the background theme and feeling was a dreary dismal dullness of the darkness felt too long,  and the sludge and slush of snow left to linger after a cold and brilliant winter.

We went to Leith -one of my dad’s favourite songs is sunshine on Leith by the Proclaimers and I wrote about it once in They Sing For Him. So we took a winter trip to see the sunshine in Leith. It is a suburb of Edinburgh on the coast and this is what mesmerised me most, the fact that it was on the coast. I had been to Edinburgh several times to the Castle and the sights and never really thought of it as being coastal. The architecture was grey and mesmerising, It was like waking up in a different time and a different place, a truly dystopian setting. It had its own unique beauty.

Shapeshifter sky

Solitary crocus speaks

Winter’s dirge recedes.

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

The Proclaimers version

2016 cup final version

Chortle- been away too long- forgot to add the link. This is for d’Verse haibun Monday. Love to all.



These Bastions…

These bastions of hope

Hunkered hulls

Iron wrought girders-tentative tendrils of tortured souls

Granite greying lies portraying

Sandstone hewn and lives pervading

Rugged landscape molten measures

Of love and labour and dreams unfettered.

Firth of Forth,

Sunshine on Leith

Grotesque, glib, grand

Bastions of strength, courage and hope hide beneath.

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

I am submitting this for open link night at d’Verse.