Sandwell Words – Celebrating World Poetry & Storytelling Day


                         We Are Sandwell

(Unity & Progress)

If people are talking about Sandwell
They need to know we`re a community;
Together, we`re all in it to excel,
A furnace of progress and unity.
They might mention buildings and statistics,
A service industry never stopping;
Or engineering, widgets and plastics,
The art galleries, theatres and shopping.

When critics are talking about Sandwell
We`re dismissed when they say “been there, done that”
Recession and all hope for us dispelled.
It might`ve been true, where we were once at:
A hard-working Borough, we`ve done and been –
Mining out the iron, limestone and coal,
Powering the nation, we were once seen
Tunnelling deep in the Black Country`s soul.

If people are talking about Sandwell
They might mention our festivals and beer.
How can anyone wish us a farewell,
Collective strength tackles every fear.
Six towns – Rowley Regis and Oldbury,
Smethwick, West Bromwich (where the Baggies play)
Tipton and the ancient-named  Wednesbury –
Sandwell is our home where we want to stay.

When people are talking about Sandwell
We`re not just a quaint Black Country theme park,
Exhausted and awaiting the death knell.
We are industry, our people are sparks
Not just boasts in silly fishing stories,
Stereotyped cartoons that say “Yow Wot?”
It`s a place where we always find glory
Sandwell, our six towns, we know what we`ve got!

If critics  are talking about Sandwell
Never forget our fantastic people,
Our precious resource, it`s where we all dwell.
The mosques, gurdwaras, temples and steeples
Reach up to the sky and proudly proclaim:
“We are here!  Look, this is where we belong!
One people, though we have different names
And together, as one, our hearts beat strong”.

What defines the Borough of our six towns
Is summed up in our humour and manners;
Our Black Country grit, nothing gets us down
Not redundant like a box of spanners.
We like to say “please” and even “thank you”
But we`re more than genteel or civilised;
A Borough to be counted on, it`s true,
Unity and progress now realised.

Sandwell – where cultures are strung together,
A united rainbow with many tongues:
Urdu, Punjabi, Chinese forever
Kurdish, Hindi, Polish, together strong.
Combined, woven into a tapestry,
Collective design is what makes us more
Than just our separate identities
United progress under common law.

Multiculturalism working for once
And we have influences from A – Z:
Taught in schools and no one`s the classroom dunce.
We range from Antigua to Zimbabwe,
Diversity and inclusion, in peace.
Reinventing ourselves, we always try,
Ambition an industry, we don`t cease,
Our hearts are so big that they touch the sky.

We are more than an industrial past:
We`re canals, theatres and art galleries
Together, a strength that will always last.
We recycle and live sustainably,
Believing  in lives beyond just our own,
Living for “today” not “some other day”;
Harvesting seeds our forefathers have sown
Knowing “someday” soon becomes “yesterday”.

When critics  are talking about Sandwell
They say we focus on the one true goal;
There are thousands of us – who needs hard sell,
Lots of different people but one soul.
Tomorrow, we reap our aspiration
Where our joint efforts reach joint goals we`ve set
Through toil, teamwork and perspiration
We go forward together, no regrets.

We`re more than a Borough of football fans
Providing a bridge through hammers and nails;
A great choir singing the truth – “Yes, we can!”
A becalmed vessel, with wind in it`s sails.
We`re more than the Black Country tradition,
A bridge for those willing to walk across;
More than a Borough of musicians
But a lost and found for those at a loss.

Sandwell – be who it is you really are,
Not transparent gloss and boring glamour.
Live music in Sandwell`s pubs, be a star,
Come play and listen to the crowd`s clamour.
We respect opinions of others:
We are all uncles, nephews and nieces,
All fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers,
Grandparents and missing puzzle pieces.

Sandwell Borough – see winters and summers,
We are Black Country temperate seasons.
We`ve room at our table for newcomers
And, wanting to stay, we are the reason;
More than just whatever we say or do,
Heaven within reach, exceeding a grasp,
A helping hand for others to get through,
Mouth-to-mouth help for those on their last gasp.

Sandwell – it`s not just a laundry list,
A destination place for you to see;
Opportunities, they`re not to be missed,
Come and check us out in the Black Country!
A place to relearn all your past mistakes,
A place that`s all the ways you want to live;
No hesitation for those who can`t wait
To love again  and those who want to give.

Sandwell?  We`re progress and variety,
A choir of individual voices
Together, but rich in diversity,
People taking control of their choices
Sandwell – it is a gift life has for you.
We defy the sneer, “been there and done that”;
We always ask “What?”  as in, “So, what`s new?”
And without us all the beer would be flat.

Sandwell – your first aid kit for those in need
When you`re sick of the same old, the same old;
A tonic for all the times your heart bleeds
Or when you`re gunning for Olympic Gold.
We`re a balti or stir fry of places
To explore and a story for your friends:
Kaleidoscope of colour and faces,
Possibilities that can never end.

Sandwell Borough – it`s a rich tapestry:
If you  come here, you`ll soon want to come back;
Each story unravels differently,
Memories to remain when you`re unpacked.
So – don`t make luggage define your travels,
Please leave space for those extra bits next time.
My dedication is now unravelled,
My ode and plea to you all told in rhyme.

By Ian Henery