It felt a bit like approaching the king
in the counting house we had sung about,
the frown amidst the glowers of gold-tipped smoke
at the hesitant Ten 2ps please,
said again as the music fizzed and throbbed
and the lights thrilled in their circuits.
After the glance down at the tendered coin,
judged just enough, he thumbed the lever –
like the quick flick of a bell on a bike –
but the impact as if a Viking
had just hacked a groaning coin-hoard open,
which scattered helter-skelter down
and clinked into a scoop like a lazar’s bowl.
And there was always gratitude for the handful
that could last an afternoon, wonderment
at the weight greater than you had given,
at the feeling for once that not everything
is treasured less for its presence than its loss.
Or so it seemed then, awaiting the next time
the silver would be given, the lever tipped,
and the change sent clattering down the rim-smoothed chute.