Those of us of a certain age
will remember the penny amusement machines
as they caught the blowsy light off the sea
with their feet on bare boards
on piers from Worthing to Caister and how
we raked through pockets weighed down by copper
with gambling intentions that felt good and proper
early adrenaline supercharged
preparing to use our Britannia discs
taking what seemed such worthwhile risks.
One specific machine I recall
had a curving spiral that spun a ball
released by a lever pulled back by the hand
designed with cunning to cause a flop
as the ball went astray all over the shop
it danced on springs across the divide
with the slimmest chance of causing a fall
of coins in the tray to take away.
My brother worked out a method to win
just the right pressure and the ball went in.
Sixty years later I saw one for sale
the price of it causing my face to pale
the sort of thing that popstars buy
to put in their hallways to amuse the band
to remind them how fickle is the fate of the hand.