Carol Ann Duffy


He was all night sleepless over money.
Impossible scenarios danced in the dark
as though he was drunk. The woman
stirred, a soft spoon, and what had emerged
from them dreamed in the next room, safe.
He left himself and drew a gun he didn’t own.

He won the pools; pearls for her and ponies
for the kids. The damp bedroom was an ocean liner
till the woman farted, drifted on, away from him.
Despair formed a useless prayer and worry an ulcer.
He bargained with something he could not believe in
for something he could not have. Sir…

Through the wallpaper men in suits appeared.
They wanted the video, wanted the furniture.
They wanted the children. Sweat soured in nylon sheets
as his heartbeat panicked, trying to get out.
There was nothing he would not do. There was 
nothing to do but run the mind’s mad films.

Dear Sir…his ghost typed on. He remembered
waiting for her, years ago, on pay-day
with a bar of fruit-and-nut. Somehow consoled
he reached out, found her, and then slept.
Add this. Take that away. The long night leaked
cold light into the house. A letter came.