by Simon Armitage

Of all the public places, dear
to make a scene, I’ve chosen here.

Of all the doorways in the world
to choose to sleep, I’ve chosen yours.
I’m on the street, under the stars.

For coppers I can dance or sing.
For silver-swallow swords, eat fire.
For gold-escape from locks and chains.

It’s not as if I’m holding out
for frankincense or myrrh, just change.

You give me tea. That’s big of you.
I’m on my knees. I beg of you.

Meaning of the Poem

This poem is the expression of a homeless poor person sleeping in a doorway and asking for some compassion from a stranger. With this short text, the poet exploits the potential of a simple word: "change" to carry multiple connotations, suggesting not only loose money but also social change.

Last updated May 12, 2019