Yes, with Shirt Buttons

I have given this some thought, Dad, and – 

Yes. Yes, with shirt buttons.

If that is what it takes, and if that is all you have,

Which I doubt, by the way, after the business with the car,

When you weren’t supposed to drive,

And yet there you were outside Frank’s house,

As we sheltered inside,

And you thought – what? – that a clapped out Capri

Would make all the different to the custody you hadn’t been awarded.

Yes, with shirt buttons,

Or – if you prefer – and you did –

Those green triangles from the Quality Street

You swore blind were not in the tin,

Every single Christmas,

As if we could ever be that unlucky,

As if we didn’t know you were partial to praline,

And hadn’t checked your pockets already for the 

Balled up green foil remains.

Yes, with shirt buttons or praline triangles or –

How about this, then? –

The pocket money you took from my room

For the cigs you couldn’t afford

After you lost the job

But still had to make the appearance

Of going to work,

Mostly so her at Number 18 would let you in

Every Friday night for what we all knew you were doing there.

If shirt buttons are all you have,

To pay for all of the things we never had,

Then – yes. Yes. I’ll see you try.

You can haggle with them; we’ll be happy with that.

See what you can get in exchange.

It would be something.

And I should have told you this back then,

When you spat it in my face.

“What with, son? What with? Effing shirt buttons?”


I can tell you that now.

Now there’s nothing left of you.

Not even a shirt.

Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers! 

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