‘Where are you going, Sally Ann
Now the nights have become so dark,
Why do you get so restless, say
You want to walk in the park?’
I thought to sit by the fireside
Each time that she ventured out,
It’s cold and damp by the streetlight lamp,
So what was it all about?
‘I need to go where the wind will blow,
Feel the damp caressing my cheek,
The bracing air is a tonic there,
While you sit, and you never speak.
It gets so terribly warm in here,
I feel I can barely breathe,
You sit and enjoy your fireside chair
But me, I just have to leave.’
So I’d go and stare out the window
Just as she left, my Sally Ann,
The thought was crossing my mind just then
Was she meeting some other man?
The question sat on my lips at times
But I thought I’d better not say,
If once I questioned my Sally Ann
It might just drive her away.
I’d watch her stand at the kerbside edge
And ponder which way to go,
She’d walk by the village of Kirby Ledge
Or left, round the bungalow,
It happened often she’d cross the road
And wander off to the mill,
I knew she’d get to the park that way
The other side of the hill.
One night, the rain it came pelting down
I knew she’d be good and wet,
I went to the old umbrella stand
And thought I could catch her yet,
The wind was gusting, the rain blew in,
In flurries under my hood,
I barely could see the way she’d been,
In passing by Farley Wood.
I saw the light of a dim-lit torch
Flashing under the trees,
And wandered over to take a look
Though feeling weak in the knees,
A woman lay on a groundsheet there
Though he had covered her face,
I still could see that her limbs were bare
And thrashing all over the place.
‘Oh Sally Ann,’ I had sobbed, and ran,
While making my way back home,
I cursed the folly of coming out,
It was better I hadn’t known.
Then Sally Ann had opened the door
Said ‘Come in out of the rain.
I went to walk but I cut it short.’
I flew to her arms again.
David Lewis Paget
We ran aground on an island,
In the eye of a hurricane,
The wind was swirling around us,
As loud as a runaway train,
A dozen people had floated up
Sucked off the deck of the ship,
Lost forever in giant seas
At the height of our pleasure trip.
The ship was battered and spun around
Like a toy in the hands of a boy,
This giant behemoth of the seas
Tossed round like a tinker toy.
We heard it grind on the outer reef
Then be driven right up to the beach,
It slowly toppled, onto its side
With the lifeboats out of reach.
We hid inside till the storm was spent
Then cautiously went ashore,
There must have been a hundred of us,
But there had been hundreds more,
Some drowned in the lower cabins
When the sides of the ship were breached,
And others died, fell over the side
As the priest of the ship had preached.
But there was no god in the heavens,
Just the mighty god of the storm,
We were soaked, and so dishevelled,
Just trying to keep us warm,
So we sheltered in a grove of trees
That had swayed, but still they stood,
While the men went through the fallen trees
It was night before we knew it,
There had been torrential rain,
The many fires that we had lit
Were lit, and lit again,
We managed a palm frond shelter
To protect us from the breeze,
But people were dying, by the score
With old men on their knees.
If only the ship had stayed upright
We could treat it like a shack,
But once we found we were on the ground
There was no way to climb back,
And then at night we were all in fright
When we heard a roar, so bold,
Like a raging beast in the further trees
That it made our blood run cold.
People were screaming in the dark
On the outskirts of the crowd,
And sounds of ripping, and gnashing teeth
In the darkness were so loud,
The morning showed us the grisly truth
There were pieces everywhere,
Whatever it was, and to our cost
They’d been sounds of rip and tear.
That only leaves a dozen of us
So I cast this into the sea,
A scrawl in a tiny bottle in
The hopes that you’ll set us free.
We take it in turns to keep a watch
For the monster of this shore,
On this tiny little island that
Has never been mapped before.
David Lewis Paget
The train chugged on in the darkness
Past meadows and cattle asleep,
And the night revealed its starkness
Puffing smoke on the backs of sheep,
Its livery was as black as the soot
That covered its ageing paint,
It couldn’t be classed as beautiful,
Though it might have been thought as quaint.
The night was such an inky black
As a cloud obscured the stars,
The train was sensing a nothingness
In the vast expanse to Mars,
The fireman sprayed its feed of coal
As the boiler felt the strain,
As tired pistons and tired wheels
Drove on the exhausted train.
A thought came out of the empty sky
And mixed with the sulphur stream,
‘Why can’t I be like the other trains
That little boys love, and dream,
Instead, I’ve spent my whole life long
Tied to an endless rail,
I’ve done all the driver wanted to
But I may as well be in jail.’
There was only an empty signal box
Unmanned at that time of night,
And miles and miles of dark ahead
With never a single light,
So an angry feeling was building up
At that Great Train in the sky,
That only commanded, ‘what thou shalt,’
But never explained, ‘but why?’
So into the dark it chugged along
With carriages in its wake,
While deep inside, the fireman asked
‘Did anyone fix the brake?
The driver shook his gnarled old head
As if in a quick reply,
‘There hasn’t been time for the loco shed,
But they’ll fix it, by and by.’
The boiler started to grumble so
They stopped at a water trough,
The fireman pulled the spout across
And turned it on, then off,
They pulled away with the tender full
Though the train was feeling pain,
‘I’m always doing the same old things,
I’m not going to stop again.’
So on they steamed to Hunterdown
Where at last the brakes had failed,
All they got was a steady sçream
As the wheels spun on the rails,
And though the driver cut the steam
Still along the track it sped,
While the driver and the fireman
On the footplate, stood in dread.
‘The rail runs out at Dead Man’s Eye
Said the driver to his mate,
If we can’t slow down this blessed thing,
I’m afraid, it’s much too late.’
They chose to jump as the rail ran out
But the train still plunged ahead,
Over the untamed landscape
Riding on meadow grass instead.
The carriages piled behind it
Were detached in an awful wreck,
But still the locomotive drove
On a joyous final trek,
It rambled over a grassy ridge
And fell over a pleasant hill,
Next to a colourful flower bed,
And today, it lies there still.
Now children gather to play on it
This pile of rusted steel,
A train that had a tender heart
And for once could see and feel,
If all of its life were memories
Then the one it’s surely got,
Is riding unfettered across the green
To a bed of forget-me-nots.
David Lewis Paget
He’d lain in the septic, hospital bed,
Was terminal, slipping away,
‘He won’t last forever,’ the nurses said,
‘Will probably go today.’
So they put him on a morphine drip
To ease the man of his plight,
‘He looks so grey, and is on his way,
I think he’ll be dead tonight.’
But deep in the slumbering fellow’s head
There wasn’t a shred of gloom,
A party was raging within his bed,
And filling that hospital room,
There were friends and folk he’d always known,
A neighbour he knew as Jim,
And there in a party dress, on her own,
That wonderful girl called Kim.
Would she even give him a second glance
He’d thought, in a sort of dread,
He’d seen her first at the village dance,
And now she was deep in his head.
Her lips were full and her eyes were brown
And her teeth were even and white,
He thought that his courage might let him down
Then swore, ‘she’ll be mine tonight.’
He nodded his head to a favourite tune
As tremors invaded his pillow,
Balloons were popping all through the room,
He stood by a favourite willow,
And Kim was paddling in the brook
That bubbled and babbled, madly,
He took a breath and a long last look,
He knew that he wanted her badly.
She turned and smiled, and walked to his bed,
And gave her lips to be kissed there,
She shimmered and swayed as his vision fled
And he stood alone by her grave there,
His smile was soft as the lights went out
And a nurse looked over him gravely,
‘At last he’s gone, I knew him as John,
He went to the other side bravely.’
They stripped his bed and they laid him out,
‘I remember his wife,’ one sighed,
‘Her name was Kim, and she doted on him,
It must be a year since she died.’
‘Who knows what happens to those who pass,’
A nurse said, folding the sheeting,
‘I’d like to think they’re together at last,
If just for a moment, fleeting…’
David Lewis Paget
They said that The Grange was a haunted house,
I said, ‘you’re having me on!’
But no, they said, ‘he’s back from the dead,’
I thought it a giant con.
‘Just spend one night in that house alone
With the power cut off, you’ll see,’
I said, ‘I’ll go, if Carolyn goes,
If Carolyn stays with me.’
Now she was more of a nervous type
But she said, ‘I’ll go with you,
Just promise you won’t make whooshing sounds,
There’s nothing a ghost can do.’
‘There isn’t a ghost,’ I told her then,
They’re all just having us on,
We’ll spend the night, if you feel uptight
I’ll prove that it’s just a con.’
We ventured in through the cobwebbed porch
As the hour was getting late,
The only light we had was a torch
And the fire we lit in the grate,
The Moon came presently shining in
Its ghostly beam through the gloom,
And Carolyn came and cuddled up
As we sat on the floor of the room.
‘Where did they say the ghost would be,’
She asked, as I patted her hair,
I couldn’t say, I was miles away,
Then we heard a creak on the stair.
I thought, ‘Oh no, it will spoil the show,’
I was hoping for just one kiss,
For this was the first time, she and I
Had ever been close, like this.
Then from above there were creaks and groans,
It came stumbling down the stair,
It looked like a bundle of rags and moans
And a skull, with eyes that glare,
Carolyn screamed as it reached for her
This thing from another world,
It bubbled and rasped in its throat, and said
One word that I think was ‘Girl’.
It must have remembered from days before
It had held a girl like this,
Death had never erased the thought,
Or the feeling that was bliss,
But now, the rags of the grave were foul
It gave off a graveyard stench,
And Carolyn, all she could do was howl,
This alive and lovely wench.
What seemed to me an apparition
A ghost in empty air,
Was rotting flesh and bones to Carolyn
Tangled in her hair,
It held her in a grip of steel
As it probed beneath her dress,
I couldn’t even fight it off
For to me, it was stagnant breath.
They came to us in the dawning light
With a key to let us out,
I lay as in a palsied dream
But I heard them scream and shout,
‘What have you done to Carolyn,’
But they were to late to save,
For she had gone where the ghost had gone,
To join him in the grave.
David Lewis Paget
My heart is empty, my head is full
Of all that transpired in the past,
My short term memory’s wrapped in wool
My long term leaves me aghast,
As age has dotted my copy book
It leaves me the time to think,
Of all the faces I knew back when
That I washed right down the sink.
My eyes are dry, but I often cry
Inside, when a thought will sting,
Did I do everything that I could
Not just the easiest thing?
All those good souls who were lost to me
For the lack of a helping hand,
I put a curse on my universe
For not taking a bolder stand.
I know that some were afraid of me,
My voice and my tone was gruff,
Could they even see the love inside
Or was it never enough?
I only knew what I felt within
I’m sad if it didn’t show,
But I lost my friends, my kith and kin
When they turned around to go.
Why couldn't I ever see it then
I was too wrapped up in life,
And everything seemed important then
Except to my lonely wife,
I loved each one, yes I really did
Though I must admit to four,
And each one left for a better life,
Went out the revolving door.
So I must confess to selfishness
In a life that I lived for me,
I could never see another’s needs
Or take part in their history,
I can see the distant horizon now
And it’s time to call a halt,
But before I meet that judgement seat
I admit, it’s all my fault.
David Lewis Paget
She raked through the hearth fire ashes,
And scattered the chicken bones,
Then turned a page in a silent rage
And added some pebble stones,
She searched for a spell to end in hell
For the man who had told her ‘No,’
A spell of hate from her hearth fire grate
To follow wherever he’d go.
While he stood out on the roadway
Considering where he’d been,
He’d fled out there from the witches lair
Where she’d lured him, sight unseen.
At first she seemed to be beautiful
When first he entered her lair,
But then his eyes grew wide in surprise,
Got used to the dark in there.
She’d sat on a velvet cushion
And raised her skirt to the knee,
He thought he saw what she wanted him for
As she smiled unpleasantly,
He turned in a mild confusion,
His women were never so bold,
He sat and stared, got out of his chair,
Said ‘Sorry, you’re just too old.’
He looked at the streets about him,
And noticed the cobblestones,
They crissed and crossed, he was more than lost
In a muddle of chicken bones.
He couldn’t figure which way to go,
As they’d twist and turn out there,
And every time he would cross the road
He’d end back at the witches lair.
His mouth was a pile of ashes,
His mind full of pebble stones,
He found himself at the same front door
Spitting out chicken bones.
He burst back into the witches lair
And he saw her crouched by the hearth,
She stared at him with an awful grin,
Let out a terrible laugh.
‘Have you come again to reject me,
To tell me I’m just too old?
You’ll never recover your other lover,’
She said, and his heart turned cold.
He snatched at her faded Grimoire,
And turned to another page,
Then read a spell from a demon of hell
That was said, would make her age.
He muttered the words of the ritual
And her face grew taut with fear,
Her hair turned grey at the words he’d say
At the spell she’d not want to hear.
Her skin grew slack, and fell from her bones
As it said in that ancient tome,
Then his head had cleared as she disappeared,
And he went wandering home.
David Lewis Paget