One Good Turn

“Why, thank you, kindly gentleman,” he said,
As he pocketed the money he’d been given.
And later on that night, one hungry tramp
Ate better food than ever he’d been fed.

“Think nothing of it,” said the businessman,
“For yesterday I did a wicked thing:
I bore false witness against my neighbour;
Now I must do a good deed if I can”.

“It’s very kind of you to volunteer
To help out in our hospice once a week.
The terminally ill still need our care,”
The matron said; he gave a knowing stare.

“I feel I owe it to society,
For yesterday I did a hateful thing,
I struck my lady wife,” was his reply.
“Now I must make amends for that cruel deed”.

“This really is a generous donation,”
The Oxfam man praised him, “it will save live”.
He spoke no words, but his smile seemed to answer:
“That’s in advance, for murdering my partner”.

[The above was first published in the 1987 anthology We’re Coming For Your Telecom Shares].

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