Once upon a spot-the-ball competition
My mum’s mate won a thousand smackers.

The invisible cash came out of thin air,
A hundred to mum for food and hair lacquer.

Good mates. The custard powder and whiskey.
It only needs a bit doesn’t it? A leg-up. The kiss

Of a slice of luck, in fivers, from a spotted ball
Hanging invisibly between leaping men

In a February cloud, and chips four pence a bag,
And stout a shilling a bottle, free school meals

With white fish and mash and of course the bloody
Fish has bones, you have haven’t you? Mum

Was persuaded, and took the dosh, paid
Off the television chair and the co-op book

And carried on. When the unsigned letters came,
Their incoherent threats and childish curses,

Our Jean called the police. ‘Ever borrowed any
Money from a friend?’ The rozzer asked, for

All the world like some wise and sickly-jaundiced angel
Whose raw eternity had led to this dread knowledge.

Mum’s mate confessed. It was me, she wept.
That’s when I learned money’s other, non-chocolate face, its craving

To take another’s heart in its grimy hand, and squeeze
And squeeze.

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