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He’s crouched there in the doorway every morning
to catch the early trade. Face seamed
with grime behind a stubbly beard.
Crackling, he shifts his boney bum inside the shell suit.

“ I wouldn’t bother you, except
me money an’t come through and then
we’ve no coins for the ‘lectric or the gas-
me girlfriend’s agoraphobic -can’t go out-
I’ve got the dog’s vet bill to pay-
he gets this diarhoea, and we’ve lived
on porridge all this week, and tea,
and tins of beans I got from Tesco – free...”

I’ve heard it all before a hundred times.
Once I believed him- gave him twenty quid.
He swore he’d spend it on fresh fruit and bread.
Next time I saw him he was off his head
with booze and pills, singing hymns
and trying to kiss old women.

I hate his whining voice, the smell of sweat
the way he shifts his problems on to me.
I’m not his keeper, yet
I can’t walk past
unless I drop a quid or chocolate bar
into his lap. His face splits in a grin.
“ Nice one !” he bawls, “ You always see me right!
You’re like my grandad. You’re a fucking star!”

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