Liverpool Accents: Seven Poets and a City

PLAIN MONEY

To my father nursing a drink near midnight
as he stares at the wall and beyond drawn curtains
- Dad, what's out there in the darkness
where the gasworks was? A by-pass
abandoning your parish in its hollow,
tail lights streaming elsewhere. Do you know:
is it worse to be corrupted by too little
or too much? Where does money go?

Entrusted with an errand - you remember -
greedy for distant places, I had spent
mum's change on foreign stamps: meshed grilles
with padlocks and a brisk ringing till
shut tightly. Lying to evade repayment,
I said I'd dropped her money in the street
where, doubtless unbelieving, she had sent me
back into the dusk to find it.

Whatever was thus lost, I'd not recover
there on Bootle's pavements, eyes cast down;
yet framing stories, wandered over
far as Johnson's Dyeworks once again.
Not to return without it, this was plain -
I'd have to go back home and make repentance,
but passing outside the Pacific Hotel - saw
a pool of someone's sick dried on the floor -

which marked how near he'd reached towards its door.

Written in Fen Ditton, Cambridge, in 1985. Quoted and commented on in my '"Come Home to Myself": Matt Simpson's Poetry', Making Connections: a Festschrift for Matt Simpson, ed. A Topping (Exeter: Stride, 1996).

Published in PN Review 59 vol. 14 no. 3, January - February 1988.
Included in :