Ten Pence Story
By Simon Armitage
Out of the melting pot, into the mint;
next news I was loose change for a Leeds pimp,
burning a hole in his skin-tight pocket
till he tipped a busker by the precinct.
Not the most ceremonious release
for a fresh faced coin cutting its teeth.
But that’s my point: if you’re poorly bartered
you’re scuppered before you’ve even started.
My lowest ebb was a seven month spell
spent head down in a wishing well,
half eclipsed by an oxidized tuppence
which impressed me with its green circumference.
When they fished me out I made a few phone calls,
fed a few meters, hung round the pool halls.
I slotted in well, but all that vending
blunted my edges and did my head in.
Once I came within an ace of the end
on the stern of a North Sea Ferry, when
some half-cut, ham-fisted cockney tossed me
up into the air and almost dropped me
and every transaction flashed before me
like a time lapse autobiography.
Now, just the thought of travel by water
lifts the serrations around my border.
Some day I know I’ll be bagged up and sent
to that knacker’s yard for the over-spent
to be broken, boiled, unmade and replaced,
for my metals to go their separate ways…
which is sad. All coins have dreams. Some castings
from my own batch, I recall, were hatching
an exchange scam on the foreign market
and some inside jobs on one arm bandits.
My own ambition? Well, that was simple:
to be flipped in Wembley’s centre circle,
to twist, to turn, to hang like a planet,
to touch down on that emerald carpet.
Those with faith in the system say ‘don’t quit,
bide your time, if you’re worth it, you’ll make it.’
But I was robbed, I was badly tendered.
I could have scored. I could have contended.