Jan 152014

Threnody on the Suicide of a Parking Meter
in Dagenham Brook, E10

O dark devourer of the driver’s coin,

What broken dreams was this leap meant to fix?

What hope-denuded skyline did enjoin

You to cast off on this East London Styx?

Perhaps ’twas self-disgust made you abort

Your ticket-chewing, clamper-pleasing life

Of shameless roadside mugging to extort

Hard cash from plumber, nurse, abandoned wife

Or harassed mum collecting post-school brat –

Two quid, you’d charge, for twenty seconds’ stay

While she dashed out to drag what she’d begat

Back to the unlocked Saab skewed ’cross your bay.

Or was it – once a credit card and text

Became the neatest way to book a spot –

The months of standing empty and perplexed

While youths in hoods stuffed gum into your slot

That brought it home: the coinless coup d’etat

Had left you little choice but to revise

Your time and date display to “au revoir”,

Then shuffle off to this small Bridge of Sighs

Ere rust and time could make their brutal pact

And virile younger bucks begin to gloat

That, though your old equipment was intact,

The chances of it working were remote?

That’s right, my black-shelled friend, I know this script,

Know how it is to impotently stand

With slot unfilled and sticky knob, ungripped,

In want of a quick pound from someone’s hand.

THE POET CAMERON BALLOONS (as declaimed to Matt Haynes)

This piece originally appeared in Smoke 11.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this poem then you’ve probably also been affected by those in Threnody on the Death of a Street Lamp on Lollard Street, SE11.

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