Tony Harrison - Illuminations

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Tony Harrison - Illuminations - Arrows Of Desire Poetry Series

by Tony Harrison (1937-)

The two machines on Blackpool's Central Pier,
The Long Drop and The Haunted House gave me
my thrills the holiday that post-war year
but my father watched me spend impatiently:

Another tanner's worth, but then no more!
But I sneaked back the moment that you napped.
50 weeks of ovens, and 6 years of war
made you want sleep and ozone, and you snapped:

Bugger the machines! Breathe God's fresh air!
I sulked all week, and wouldn't hold your hand.
I'd never heard you mention God, or swear,
and it took me until now to understand.

I see now all the piled old pence turned green,
enough to hang the murderer all year
and stare at millions of ghosts in the machine —
The penny dropped in time! Wish you were here!