Words flutter by us,
Caught in their moments,
Words sent to try us,
‘Loss’ and ‘Elopements’,
Some may inspire us,
Others may burn,
Once they decry us
They never return
Some were left out there,
When I was young,
Caught in the frost where
My youth was undone.
Some may pass by me
More often, and then,
Echo in silence and
Drip from my pen.
Where do they float to,
That is the mystery,
Some learnt by rote to
Be writ in each history,
Others elude us but
Catch at our breath,
Slide in our coffins and
Hound us to death.
While we are ever
Living and breathing,
Some words should never
Be heard, one is ‘Leaving’,
Three words are only
Both honest and true,
Should one be left lonely,
And those, ‘I love you.’
David Lewis Paget
I saw her first in the lighting flash
That lit her up in the storm,
The rain was beating on down to slash
Her more than shapely form,
She’d just emerged from a woodland copse
Was soaked as she could be,
So came to shelter beneath the
Mighty Oak, along with me.
Her hair was more than bedraggled, but
As black as a phantom crow,
Her clothes were old and ragged, but
They clung to her figure so,
I asked her what had possessed her then
To wander out in the rain,
She looked at me and began to pout,
‘I could well ask you the same.’
I said I wasn’t prepared for it,
It came down out of the blue,
Just as the sun went underground
And dark, so what about you?
She said that she only ventured out
When the daylight was eclipsed,
In wind and storm she was newly born
On an evening such as this.
But then she sighed and I saw her eyes
Weren’t blue or green, but black,
Her lips an unearthly red, like blood,
No lipstick looked like that.
She said, ‘they call me The Selfling, for
I offer myself for free,
I give whatever you want, but then
I take what I want for me.’
She lay down under that mighty tree
And pulled me down on top,
Onto a pile of Autumn leaves,
And said, ‘now don’t you stop.’
I must confess that I did no less
Than The Selfling said to do,
As she took me into that wilderness
There was pain and pleasure too.
Her teeth bit into my helpless wrist
As we rolled there in the mud,
I felt my essence begin to ebb
As she took a pint of blood.
When I awoke I was on my own
Though I caught a final glimpse,
Of her, in a flash of lightning, though
I’ve never seen her since.
David Lewis Paget
‘Be waiting up at the window,’ said
The note he sent by hand,
‘I’ll come and collect you at midnight,’
Said the note, ‘the way we planned.’
She heard the clatter of hoofbeats in
The courtyard down below,
And waved to him from the window
As she seized her portmanteau.
She quickly skipped down the staircase
Holding both her shoes in hand,
Trying to avoid the clatter as
She raced down to her man,
It only took but a moment then
To seat her on his horse,
And gallop out of the courtyard on
Their way to the watercourse.
A light appeared in an upper room
And they heard her father roar,
‘By God, you’ll pay for your insolence,
I told you once before.’
He’d promised her to a Banker’s clerk
Who had paid him for her hand,
Though she had said that it wouldn’t work,
She had bowed to his command.
But then the couple had plotted,
He was sworn to break her free,
‘If anyone is to marry, it
Will just be you to me.’
They headed down to the water where
The sloop, ‘The Esperance’,
Was waiting for their arrival
Before sailing off to France.
It took an hour to set the sails
And wait for the tide to turn,
They hid themselves below the deck
In a cabin at the stern,
But soon the thunder of hoofbeats said
They must have been found out,
For then they heard her father’s call,
‘It’s best that you come out,’
He ventured slowly out on the deck
To reason with the man,
Then saw the flash of the powder that
Was loaded in the pan,
The ball cut straight through his windpipe,
Left him sprawling on the deck,
While she was dragged from below, and screamed
‘All curses on your neck.’
He locked her into an attic room
And he wouldn’t let her out,
Though she would wail, and would scream at him,
And curse and yell, and shout,
She waited up till the early hours
Then she set her room alight,
The fire spread till they all were dead
From that single candlelight.
It sits as a blackened ruin now
With soot on the standing walls,
A testament to a daughter who
Refused to be overruled,
And still some nights when the moon is bright
There’s a whisper, close at hand,
‘I’ll come and collect you at midnight,
And we’ll leave, the way we planned.’
David Lewis Paget
At midnight, out on the cobblestones
There’s the sound of rolling wheels,
And a shadow cast on a window pane
From the road outside, it steals,
A wagon, black in its livery,
And pulled by a single horse,
As black as the heart of the man that steers,
Whipped up from the watercourse.
From down in a tiny inlet, deep
Enough for a man of war,
A French corvette is lying, waiting,
Just metres away from shore,
It carried a cargo of brandy, wine,
And cases full of tea,
Smuggled into the tiny cove
Its goods all duty free.
Now it’s waiting upon the tide
To turn the ship around,
Its cargo gone in the wagon now,
Headed for higher ground,
And then the galloping hoofbeats echo
Over the cobblestones,
The crack of a couple of pistols and
The air is filled with groans.
The horse breaks free of its halter and
The wagon rolls back down,
It’s shadow passing my window pane
A second time around,
It rolls back into the harbour while
I hear the boom of guns,
Firing from the French Corvette
As it hoists its sail, and runs.
Once a year on the fifth of June
And late into the night,
Whenever the moon is lying low
And casting down its light,
I see the shadows and hear the sounds
From that deadly time of yore,
As the ghostly French Corvette departs
And sails from the ghostly shore.
And glistening out on the cobblestones
There’s a dampness, looks like mud,
That dissipates in an hour or two,
A pool of the smuggler’s blood,
I dare not go to the window, look,
Or even open the door,
In case I’m carried away by them
From two hundred years before.
David Lewis Paget
He took to the skies most every night
Unfurling his wings of black, not white,
Invisible in the night sky when
He hovered above the world of men.
‘Go out and bring me a virgin girl,’
His master bade from his darkling world,
But scanning this broad humanity
There wasn’t a virgin he could see.
He’d scan and swoop from his greater height
When the clouds got into his way at night,
And beam on in to the female kind,
To enter their thoughts, and read each mind.
Then every day he’d return back home
Reporting back where his master roamed,
‘There isn’t a one,’ he said, ‘You’re sure?
You surely can find me one that’s pure.’
‘I scan three hundred and more each night,
And none of their thoughts are pearly white,
For even the ones not quite undone
Have dreams that tell them it might be fun.’
‘I have to say that they sometimes shock
With dirtier minds than the weathercock,
A virgin body is easy to find,
But not one pure with a virgin mind.’
He still flies out in the midnight world
In a fruitless search for a virgin girl,
Pure in body and pure in mind,
But now extinct in our humankind.
He tells his master his search is cursed,
There’s none to find in the universe,
His darkling master is left confused,
‘Perhaps you would like one barely used?’
But no, his master will still insist,
And waits in vain for his virgin tryst,
So that’s why, under a harvest moon,
You may glimpse wings in the month of June.
David Lewis Paget
There were tigers, bears and elephants,
The day that the circus came,
And dwarves and clowns in our tiny town
It never would be the same.
The people stared as it passed on by
It was like a grand parade,
If only we’d known what was going down,
It was time to be afraid.
The tent went up in the open field
Behind old Barney’s store,
And lines of booths for the local youths
At a penny or so a draw,
While lines of coloured bulbs lit up
Where the fairground rides were set,
And musical hurdy-gurdies sounded
Just like a passing jet.
Then girls in flimsy bikinis flew
Up and under the top,
A giant net underneath them, yet
In case that one might drop.
The Ringmaster with his hat and whip
And his giant, curled moustache,
Kept all of the bareback riders straight
In line, and under his lash.
The elephants were herded in
And stood on their great hind legs,
Trumpeting sighs, and rolling their eyes,
Just like a dog that begs.
The clowns raced in and disrupted all
Clambering over the seats,
And roused the crowd, that laughed out loud
At all their ridiculous feats.
At ten, the tent had begun to whirl
And the audience went still,
As hounds had bounded in and around,
The Hounds of the Baskervilles.
A massive bell had begun to chime
The Ringmaster’s coat turned black,
He grew in size right before their eyes
And some had a heart attack.
He grew two horns on top of his head
That made him look like a goat,
And then a shimmering tail of dread
Slid out, from under his coat.
‘You pays yer money and takes yer choice,’
His voice boomed out in a bit,
The prayers prayed and the screamers screamed
As the floor sank into a pit.
The first three rows fell into the pit,
The rest of us stood and cowered,
While he just floated and cracked his whip
Over his pit of power.
And flames shot up from the pit below
To the chime of the Black Mass Bell,
We knew we stood at that terrible hour
By the Seventh Circle of Hell.
Our lips were sealed, and I risk my soul
And any future of grace,
By telling you all just what went down
In this, now devilish place.
You’ll see the field behind Barney’s store
Lies burnt, still black with their blood,
Where once the Devil’s own circus came
And set up in our neighbourhood.
David Lewis Paget
There once was time to sit and spin
The dream without, the light within
When young ideals like creed and rote
Would wreathe their blue tobacco smoke!
When wine was certain at each sip
When answers leapt at every lip,
Such were the days, when we all knew
If we were asked, what we would do.
But life began to call us in
And time, as such, has grown so thin,
We rush to do the things we must
While dreams, ideals, are things of dust.
And soon we turn our backs on them
Those shadows that were once young men
Who never dreamt hypocrisy
Would spill their dreams, philosophy;
And rule them with a rod of steel
And teach them well how not to feel,
And lead them blindly through their days –
They spare no thought for younger ways.
And where that dream, ideal, that once
Was held to spell deliverance?
Well we might ask, and well we might;
It’s life, not death, puts out the light!
David Lewis Paget