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20.3k · Jan 2015
To Bed! To Bed!
‘To bed! To bed!’
Said Sleepy-head;
‘Tarry awhile,’ said Slow;
‘Put on the pan,’
Said Greedy Nan;
‘We'll sup before we go.’
        (from Mother Goose)

They sat at the kitchen table as
The candle flickered low,
And Greedy Nan put on the pan
To indulge her sister, Slow,
While Sleepy Weepy Annabelle
Blotted her book with tears,
And thought of her Beau from long ago
Who she hadn’t seen for years.

‘Why doesn’t Roger notice me,
Why doesn’t Alan Dell?
I’m wearing the dress cut low for me
And I’ve hitched my skirt as well.
I’ve a pretty turn to my ankle, so
You’d think it would drive them wild.’
‘But men are a mystery,’ said Slow,
‘And Alan Dell’s a child.’

While over the pan stood Greedy Nan,
Was cracking a turkey’s egg,
A lump of yeast and a slice of beast
And a single spider’s leg.
With a wing of bat and an ounce of fat
And a toe of frog for the spell,
She needed to turn her sister off
From her crush on Alan Dell.

For Greedy Nan was the eldest girl
And would have to marry first,
The other two would wait in the queue
Or their fortunes be reversed,
The omelette sizzled, and in the pan
She added before they saw,
A piece of some Devil’s Trumpet plant
For the mating game meant war.

She sliced the omelette into half
And she served them up a piece,
‘Didn’t you want?’ said Annabelle
But Slow enjoyed the feast.
‘I’m not that terribly hungry now
I’ve cooked it up in the pan,
I think I’ll just have a slice of bread,’
Said the scheming Greedy Nan.

They finished up and they sat awhile,
And they mused about their fate,
‘If Greedy Nan isn’t married soon,
For us it will be too late.’
‘I’ve set my sights on a country squire,’
Said Nan, without a blink,
Lured them away from her secret fire
To confuse what they might think.

‘The room is woozy, spinning around,
I’d better get me to bed,’
Said Annabelle, while Slow with a frown
Saw Dwarves dancing in her head.
But Greedy Nan was cleaning the pan
To clear all signs of the spell,
Her back was turned to her sisters, spurned
For the sake of Alan Dell.

And when he came in the morning
Greedy Nan was sat by the door,
While Annabelle and her sister Slow
Were lying dead on the floor,
‘I didn’t mean it to **** them, Al,
It was only a simple spell,’
But as he cuffed and led her away
He frowned, did Alan Dell.

David Lewis Paget
15.7k · Jan 2017
The Rose
We’d been together so long, it seemed
That nothing could tear us apart,
We lived our lives in a world of dreams
And Barbara lived in my heart,
But frost had covered the window pane
And then it began to snow,
As Barbara turned, with a look of pain
And said, ‘It’s best that you go.’

I didn’t know what she meant at first
As I looked up from my book,
“Go where?’ I questioned, but thought again
As she quelled my heart with a look.
‘I said I want you to leave,’ she cried,
And her face was set in stone,
‘We’ve come to the end of the path,’ she sighed,
‘I want to be left alone.’

Then suddenly all confusion reined
I didn’t know what to say,
Whatever had brought this mood on her,
I wished it would go away.
But she was firm, and she packed my things
And ushered me out the door,
I stood there shivering in the cold
To be back on my own once more.

I found a flat and I camped the night
There was barely a stick or chair,
I’d have to buy all the furniture
To make it a home in there.
But I sat and cried in the empty room
As the question came back, ‘Why?’
I’d loved her so and my heart was torn,
I thought I wanted to die.

I went to her with my questions, but
She slammed the door in my face,
Whatever love she had had for me
Had vanished, without a trace.
It hurt so much that she cut me off
With never so much as a sigh,
I called that all that I wanted was
To tell me the reason, why?

The roses had bloomed so late that year
Were still in the garden bed,
We’d always tended the bush with joy,
We both loved the colour red,
So I snipped one off as I left one day,
And planted it under her door,
To let her know that I loved her still
I didn’t know how to say more.

Her brother called in a week or so,
Said she was in hospital,
She’d gone in just for a minor cure
And thought that he’d better tell.
So I caught the bus and I went on down
With a quaking fear in my heart,
She hadn’t said there was something wrong
Before she tore us apart.

The doctor came in his long white coat,
His brow and his face was grim,
I said, ‘Don’t tell me the news is bad,’
He said, ‘I’m out on a limb.
Your wife just passed from the surgery,
But she pulled, from under her clothes,
And asked if I’d pass this on to you,’
In his hand was a red, red rose.

David Lewis Paget
It was hard in the Moonta Mines that year
For the miners, down in the pit,
It wasn’t a place for a weak man, but
The Cornish Miners had grit,
They burrowed deeper with every day
Extracting the copper ore,
And the skimps grew high in the heaps that piled
Not far from the Moonta shore.

They wore their helmets deep in the mine
With a candle fixed to the brim,
And worked in the glow of the candlelight
While the pumps pumped out and in,
They pumped for water, they pumped for air
For the air in the mine was rank,
And water seeped at the lowest lode
Where the atmosphere was dank.

They built their cottages out of lime
And mud, with a building board,
On Sundays, that was the only time
Once they had prayed to the Lord,
The Cornish Miners were Methodists
Built numerous churches there,
And Cap’n Hancock had said, ‘Attend!
Or your job is gone – Beware!’

Those men of flint had hearts of gold
And they raised their children fine,
Sons would follow their fathers then
And go to work in the mine,
One Christmas Eve they were gathered there
By their hundreds, on the green,
A candle lit on their helmets each
Like a glittering starlit scene.

The wives and children were there as well
With their voices raised in praise,
The swelling sound of an angel choir
With their humble miners ways,
They called it Carols by Candlelight
And the movement grew apace,
It spread all over the world from this
The Moonta Miners grace.

David Lewis Paget
3.3k · Aug 2013
The Witch & the Windmill
She could make a cow grow sick and die,
She could sicken a healthy pig,
She could poison somebody’s cottage pie
But she couldn’t harm Tom Rigg.
For Tom wasn’t born of woman
He’d been plucked too soon from the womb,
When his mother lay there dying
From a concoction stirred with a broom.

So he’d grown up broad, and tall and strong
With a warlock cast to his eye,
Whatever the spell she tried on him
He would turn on her, ‘Just try!’
She conjured a flight of vampire bats
To follow him here and there,
But the bats were spurned, and then returned
And they tangled up in her hair.

She would lie in wait by the farmer’s gate
With the graveyard dog in a ditch,
So he’d open the sluice that was not in use,
And soak her, every stitch,
She’d scream, come tumbling after him,
‘You think you’re so fine and big,
I’ll spell that you fall in love with me,
Just see if I don’t, Tom Rigg.’

For deep down under her witch’s pride
Was the beat of a woman’s heart,
And the sight of Tom had sent it, quivering
Shaking itself apart,
But Tom had kept himself to himself
Immune to a woman’s wiles,
Determined to fix the old windmill
On the other side of the stile.

He lived in the ancient tower mill
That he’d bought, picked up for a song,
It hadn’t been used for a hundred years
Since part of the works went wrong,
The sails were seized, poked up at the sky
In a way that said, ‘We’re spent!’
But Tom believed that he knew just why;
The cog on the shaft was bent.

He cleaned it up and he scraped the rust
And he greased the copper sheath,
He checked it over and sideways, down
And he peered from underneath,
But the shaft was rigid, it wouldn’t turn
He was giving up in despair,
When late one night with a mighty crash
There was something amiss out there.

He peered up under a rising moon
There was something caught in the sail,
All he could see was a besom broom
But then came an awful wail,
The witch was caught in the topmost sail
Where she’d swooped in the night unseen,
And now she was clung to the old wood frame
And all she could do was scream.

There wasn’t a ladder that went so high
So all he could do was stare,
‘Now how do you think I could rescue you,
And how did you get up there?’
The mill was starting to creak and groan
As the wind came over the hill,
The sails were starting to slowly turn
With the witch stuck firmly still.

The weight of the witch had freed them up
And she shrieked as the sails whirled round,
While Tom was laughing, joyfully, merrily,
Rolling over the ground,
‘I’ll swear you’ve done me a favour, Jane,
I was going to call it quits,
But now, if ever you come back down,
I’m ready to kiss a witch!’

David Lewis Paget
3.1k · Apr 2014
Cockroach Castle
There’s a scurrying sound of something, burrowing,
Down in the depths of the dungeons, hurrying,
Skittering, pittering-pattering, scattering
When there’s a footstep, hear them chattering:
‘Here come the lords, and here comes the vassal,
Tripping their way through Cockroach Castle.’

Here come the ladies, all in their finery
Tripping and sipping the wine from the winery,
Trailing their silks, their satins and bustling,
Up in the ballroom, while the rustling
Army beneath the sounds of their razzle
Is down in the depths of Cockroach Castle.

Spilling their millions up in the glooming
Out from the flagstones, terror is looming,
Up on the awnings, hung from the ceiling
Under the swish of the skirts they’re stealing,
Dropping in hair, and burrowing faster,
Cockroach Castle is set for disaster.

Suddenly all of the room is screaming
Flapping of hands, the roaches are teeming,
Myriad hordes in the Carbonara,
Candles are tipped from the candelabra,
Choking smoke from the candles guttered,
Flames leap up from the ones that stuttered.

Clothing and flags and the awnings razing
Silks and satins flare up, and blazing,
Roaches in eyes and ears, they’re rasping
Clogging their throats, to leave them gasping,
There isn’t a lady or lord, or vassal
To come out alive from Cockroach Castle!

David Lewis Paget
2.8k · Jan 2014
The Seeds of Disaster
The Starship Galaxy III came in
To land in a farmer’s field,
There wasn’t much of a barley crop
For the seed had failed to yield,
The city lay just a mile away
In a glow of flashing lights,
‘I wonder how they manage to sleep,’
Said the Captain, Arzen Kytes.

They’d travelled across the universe
In a push through hyper space,
For seven years at the speed of light
In a bid to seek and trace,
They’d followed the trail of radio waves
From near to a distant sun,
And ended up in the Milky Way
Where the sounds were coming from.

‘There has to be life out there,’ they’d said,
‘We’re surely not alone,
We’ll send a mission to check them out,
To see what they’re like at home,
They must have a crude technology
To be able to transmit,’
And now in sight of the city lights
They were on the verge of it.

‘There’s oxygen in the air out there,
It’s much the same as home,
It’s safe to send out a party in
The seven seater drone,
So under the Captain, Arzen Kytes
They flew to a city square,
But the skyscrapers were neglected
And the weeds were thick out there.

They roamed through many department stores
Now empty of displays,
And passed by stores that were boarded up,
‘This town’s seen better days!’
Nobody walked the city streets
And the Captain shook his head,
‘Whatever happened to bring them down,
It looks like they’re all dead!’

But then in an old computer shop
They saw a sign of life,
A dozen or so of bobbing heads,
An old man and his wife,
But nobody said a single word
Or looked when they came in,
But kept on pushing the buttons of
Some tool that glowed within.

The old man opened his mouth and spoke,
‘You’re not from round these parts.
I saw the flivver you just flew in,
We’re back to the horse and cart.
This generation is not so bright,
They don’t know how to speak,
The gift of language has passed them by
Now all that they do is tweet.’

‘When most of the population died
With famine, came disease,
The crops were genetically modified
And killed off all the bees,
So nothing is pollinated now
But the bit we do by hand,
It wasn’t enough to save the world
From the greed that ruined the land.’

‘But what about all the city lights,
They’re flashing still, in truth!’
‘Everything came with flashing lights
To hypnotise our youth.
We may get help from a distant star
If they see them flash in space,
But once the power goes off, we’ll see
The end of the human race.’

The Captain of the Galaxy III
Flew back to board his ship,
When questioned by the rest of the crew
He frowned, and bit his lip,
‘There’s signs of a civilisation here
But they’ve let it go to seed,’
And smiled at the gentle irony,
‘The fools gave in to greed!’

David Lewis Paget
2.4k · Dec 2013
The Telephone Box
The footsteps echoed on cobblestones
When a chime rang ten of the clock,
As a sailor making his way back home
Was walking up from the dock,
It was cold and dark for the lights were out
And the street was wet with the rain,
When he came to an old red telephone box
At the side of a narrow lane.

The clouds were black and they opened up
So he stepped in out of the wet,
Dropped his swag as it turned to hail
And lit up a cigarette,
The box was ancient, was George the Fifth
And hadn’t been used for years,
But stood in a lane that time forgot
When the rot set in, and worse.

For most of the houses were boarded up
And the weeds had grown outside,
Some had embarked for a tree-lined park
And some of the others died,
It was lonely there in the dark of night
As the sailor waited, he sang,
But stubbed his cigarette out in fright
When the telephone next to him rang.

He stared at it for a while before
He raised it, stopping the bell,
It had an echoing, ghostly sound
Like you hear in a deep sea shell,
The sound of sobbing came to his ear
And he cried, ‘Who’s there, what’s wrong?’
‘Oh God, I’ve waited forever my dear,
I’m locked in the basement, Tom!’

The sailor said that he wasn’t Tom
But she didn’t appear to hear,
‘He’s got an axe, attacking the door,
Be quick or he’ll **** me, dear!’
The sailor didn’t know what to say
But a chill ran up his spine,
‘Tell me, what’s your address,’ he said
‘Before you run out of time!’

‘I’m straight across from the telephone box,
You usually meet me here,
He’s found us out, and he screams and shouts
That he’ll **** you as well, my dear!
He just came home from a spell at sea
And called me a cheating *****,
If you don’t come over and rescue me
He’ll have smashed his way through the door.’

The sailor wanted to say, ‘Enough!
It’s nothing to do with me,’
But flew on out of the telephone box,
Leapt over a fallen tree,
He raced right in through the open door
And he called, ‘I’m here, just wait!’
Then made his way to the cellar door
But all he could feel was hate.

The door was shattered, he walked right in
It was dark, there wasn’t a light,
He felt around for a candle, lit
And stared at the terrible sight.
A man lay dead on the basement floor
Where an axe had taken his life,
And there with her throat like an open sore
Was the body of his dear wife.

He staggered, stopped, and fell to his knees
And sobbed like a man insane,
‘Oh God, it’s true, I did this to you,
But my mind’s been playing games.
I thought if I went away to sea
I’d return to find they were dreams…’
As he sliced a razor across his throat
He thought, ‘Life’s not what it seems!’

David Lewis Paget
2.3k · Jun 2014
Lobster Reef
An Isle rose up from the ocean swell
On the seventeenth of June,
It was totally unexpected by
The M.V. Cameroon,
She’d sailed with seven passengers
And some cargo in the hold,
They all kept well to their cabins for
The deck was more than cold.

The Captain up on the bridge had checked
His maps before they sailed,
Had marked his course dead reckoning
Though the gyro compass failed,
They’d been at sea for eleven days
So he took a fix on the stars,
Then left the wheel to the Bosun while
He searched for the coffee jar.

The ship ground up on a coral reef
At two in the morning, sharp,
The night was black as a midden since
The clouds had hidden the stars,
The hull bit deep in the coral as
It drove ahead with its way,
Grinding slowly to come to halt
Just in from a new-formed bay.

‘There isn’t supposed to be land out here,’
The Bosun cried to Lars,
The Captain said, ‘I fixed a point,
Dead reckoning by the stars!
There shouldn’t be land in a hundred miles,’
But the ship was high and dry,
‘It must have come up from the ocean floor,’
The Bosun said, ‘but why?’

The passengers spilled out onto the deck
With cries and shouts in the gloom,
‘What have you done, the ship’s a wreck,’
Said the Banker, Gordon Bloom.
The sisters, Jan and Margaret Young
Burst out in sobs and tears,
‘How are you going to float it off?
We might be here for years!’

At daylight they could see the extent
Of the distant lava flow,
‘Lucky we’re not on the other side
Or we’d all be dead, you know.’
The tide came in and the tide went out
But the ship was high and dry,
As clouds of steam from the lava flow
Poured out, and into the sky.

‘We’re not gonna starve,’ said Andy Hill
As he peered down onto the reef,
As thousands of ***** and lobsters crawled
‘There’s plenty of them to eat.’
They lowered him down on a rope, along
With the engineer, Bob Teck,
Where they gathered the lobsters up by hand
And tossed them, up on the deck.

The evening meal was a feast that night,
They ate and they drank their fill,
‘Too much,’ said Oliver Aston-Barr
‘I think I’m going to be ill.’
But Jennifer Deane, Costumier
Had an appetite for four,
She ate the scraps that the others left
And was calling out for more.

The following morning all was still
Til Jennifer Deane came out,
She roused them all with a frightened scream,
And then continued to shout:
‘I’ve got some horrible bug inside
And I’ve lost my sense of taste,
It must have come from the lobsters, for
It’s eaten half of my face!’

The lobsters must have been undercooked
For the symptoms would appal,
A necrotizing flesh eater
Had started on them all,
The flesh was eaten from Andy’s hand
And the leg of Gordon Bloom,
While the sisters Jan and Margaret Young
Lay screaming in their room.

The sickness took them rapidly,
For Jennifer Deane had died,
They had no place to bury her
So threw her over the side,
The ***** then swarmed and attacked her there,
Ate all of her flesh away,
There was little left of Jennifer Deane
Before the end of the day.

Each time that one of them died, the rest
Would fling them over the side,
The bodies had piled up higher out there
Than those alive, inside,
Til finally, Oliver Aston-Barr
Was last to die, on the bridge,
Of the Motor Vessel Cameroon,
Upthrust on a lava ridge.

A winter storm was to float it off,
It drifted out with the tide,
A rusted hulk with ‘The Cameroon’
Paint peeling, off from the side.
An ancient freighter, crossing its path
Drove past it, steel on steel,
And that’s when the helmsman held his breath,
‘There’s a skeleton at the wheel!’

David Lewis Paget
2.2k · Jul 2013
The Scarecrow
Out on the marsh on a lonely night
The wind soughs through his rags,
The hat that’s pinned to his painted face,
Flutters and soars, then sags,
His eyes are wide and his mouth is grim
As an owl is put to flight,
And nothing but shadows will venture there
For the Scarecrow rules the night.

And back in the manse in a window seat
The Parson’s daughter sits,
She stares at the fluttering coat-tails, but
In truth, is scared to bits,
She watches the sails of the windmill turn
And creak and groan in the gloom,
As clouds come stuttering over the marsh
In the rays of a Harvest Moon.

The father is out in the donkey cart
To tend to his aging flock,
He’s left Elizabeth waiting there
By the tick of the hallway clock,
But out on the moors and beyond the marsh
There rides one Highway Jack,
A frock coat topped with a bunch of lace
And a gold trimmed tricorne hat.

He’s whipped the horse to a lather
In a retreat from a new affray,
For the magistrates have gathered
Vowing to ride him down that day,
The redcoats wait in the village Inn
For the sound that they know too well,
When the curate sees the approaching horse
He’s to toll the old church bell.

But the curate lies in a drunken fit
On the floor of the old church nave,
And soon, by matins his soul will flit
From life to an early grave,
Elizabeth sits in the window seat
And thinks of the coin and plate,
As the highwayman dismounts, and ties
His horse to the manse’s gate.

He beats on the door, ‘Please let me in,
I’m weary and faint, that’s all.
I wouldn’t abuse your person, but
I fear my back’s to the wall.’
She leaves the seat and she slides the bar
For bracing the oaken door,
‘I dare not, sir, I fear for my life,
You’re safer out on the moor!’

Their voices echo across the marsh
Like fear, distilled in the night,
And something shudders out in the gloom
And lurches to left and right,
It seems forever, but now a sound
Tolls out, like a final knell,
For something, out in the church tonight,
Is tolling the steeple bell.

He barely makes it back to his horse
When the redcoats stand in line,
Their muskets fire a volley of shot
And his coat turns red, like wine.
They go to the church when the deed is done
To say, ‘You have done well!’
But the curate lies on the cold stone floor,
The Scarecrow tolled the bell!

David Lewis Paget
2.1k · Mar 2014
I was sent to work at the old Repat.
It was forty years since the war,
Those ancient diggers would sit and swear
At the pain of the limbs they wore,
The wounds would open as years went by,
They’d come for another slice,
That war was never over for them,
And morphine was paradise.

I saw one veteran struggle and curse
As he ripped at the buckles and straps,
The new prosthesis had rubbed him raw
As his knee began to relapse.
He tore the leg from his wounded stump
Sat on his bed, and roared,
Then swung the article over his head
And flung it across the ward.

The others had ducked as the leg took off
And bounced off the opposite wall,
‘I’ll have to report you,’ the nurse exclaimed,
‘It’s a good leg, after all!’
‘You wear it then,’ was the man’s response,
‘For it’s driving me insane,
What would you know of Flanders Fields?
You wouldn’t deal with the pain!’

My job was to settle and calm him down
So I asked him about his leg,
‘When and where did you lose it, Dig?’
The veteran tossed his head.
‘You’ve heard of a place called Flanders Fields
Where the bullets came in like hail?
Well, I was there with the Anzac’s, son,
At a place called Passchendaele.’

‘Our Generals were trying to ****** us,
I swear, on my mother’s head,
They kept on sending us over the top
Until half of the men were dead.
The German gunners would enfilade
As we struggled against the mud,
I’ll never forget the battlefield,
It was spattered with bones and blood.

They’d send artillery shells across
At the height of a soldier’s knee,
We’d watch them come as they parted the grass,
They were Grasscutters, you see!
Well, I was running with bayonet fixed
And praying for God’s good grace,
When suddenly I was lying there,
I’d tumbled, flat on my face.’

‘It’s strange that I never felt a thing,
When the Grasscutter got me,
It took a while ‘til I saw my leg
Was gone, from under the knee.
But that was the end of the war for me,
The end of the life I’d known,
I spent some time back in Blighty, then
I came on a ship, back home.’

I never chided those men in there
Though they’d curse and swear, and roar,
For every man was a hero where
They'd trudged in mud through the war.
That Repat. job was a fill-in job
And I left, still young and hale,
But I never forgot the Grasscutter
Or the man from Passchendaele.

David Lewis Paget
2.0k · Mar 2014
The Woodland Mass
She wore a net that covered her hair,
A shawl in a peasant green,
A ragged dress that covered her breast
But with nothing in-between,
Her legs were scratched and covered in mud
And her feet were shod in clogs,
I wouldn’t have noticed her passing, but
For the barking of the dogs.

She looked aside at the dogs that barked
And she made an evil sign,
Sent them panicking back to the barn
And I called, ‘Hey you, they’re mine!’
She looked at me from under the net
With glittering eyes of scorn,
‘Your dogs will not recover themselves
‘Til the Black Beast comes, at dawn!’

I stood agape and I watched her pass
To the shade down by the creek,
She kicked her clogs on the dewy grass
And she washed her legs and feet.
I wandered down and I stood aside,
‘You’re a stranger to these parts!’
‘I’ve been away, but I think I’ll stay
‘Til the Mass of the Woodland starts.’

It wasn’t really a village then,
Was more a scatter of homes,
Built on the edge of the woodland where
The cottagers laid their bones,
The cemetery wandered into the trees
With the headstones, green with moss,
And each was graven beneath the green
With a dark, upended cross.

‘The people here are strange, you know,
They don’t like passers-by,
You’d best be moving along before
The sun sinks in the sky.’
She laughed a terrible laugh that sent
Cold shivers down my back,
‘I’m only here for the sacrifice,
You can tell your Brothers that!’

The people came from the cottages
At dusk in their hoods and capes,
Wandered into the ancient hall
Half hid by its ivy drapes,
They genuflected before the font
With its rust and ****** stains,
That sat before the upended cross
On a wall that was hung with chains.

A man stood tall at the podium
In a hood that hid his face,
I caught a glimpse of the mask he wore,
A skull that he held in place.
‘The ravening beast will be abroad
When the Moon is full and round,
We have to be at the woodland creek
Before the beast comes down.'

He led the way to the woodland creek
Where the girl had sat in wait,
‘I hope you’ve chosen your sacrifice
For the time is getting late.’
A cloud then blotted the moonlight out
And we heard a beastly roar,
The girl had gone when the moon had shone
And her clothes lay on the floor.

And in her place, a hideous beast
As black as a lump of pitch,
Leapt on one of the Brothers there
And dragged him into a ditch.
It mauled and ripped at his carcass there,
He didn’t have time to scream,
While I took off, back to my croft,
Away from the nightmare scene.

I lay in the barn, beside my dogs,
They seemed to be terrified,
I sat and loaded my .22
My eyes were open wide,
The Beast came prowling around at dawn
Just as the girl had said,
I shot it once, and between the eyes
But the girl lay there, instead.

David Lewis Paget
2.0k · Nov 2013
Mother of the Bride
I was introduced to her mother
One Whit Sunday, down at the Hall,
They said that this was a ritual
And suffered by one and all,
She wanted to check your hands were clean
That you had no flaw on your skin,
I wanted to marry her daughter
But if I had, I couldn’t come in.

They led me in through the servant’s door
Down a passageway to the rear,
Marching me past some gloomy rooms
Was an ancient Grenadier,
He didn’t reply to a single word
That I said, his face was grim,
Then into a room with a chandelier
That was gloomier than him.

She sat at the end of a table, veiled
And motioned me to a chair,
The dust was thick on the table-top
And I’m sure there was dust on her,
I’d heard she once was a beauty
One of the greatest in the land,
But she sat there bowed like a coffin shroud
As she raised her withered hand.

‘Show me your hands and your fingers,’ she
Then whispered in gravel tones,
Her voice like the dying embers of
The ashes of human bones,
I raised my sleeves to the elbows and
I held them out to her stare,
‘I’m going to marry your daughter,’
I declared, ‘so be aware!’

She flinched, as if I had slapped her
Then she said, as hard as nails,
‘I’ll write the end of the chapter,
I’ll not heed your rants and rails.
My daughter won’t marry anyone
That I don’t approve, you’ll see,
You think that you are the only one
Come cap in hand to me?’

‘There was a time, I was in my prime
When the world was at my door,
And I could have married anyone
But the love that I had was poor,
A rival had him imprisoned, just
To get him out of the way,
Then said I could buy his freedom if
I’d lie with him for a day.’

‘My love was such that I put my trust
That this Earl would keep his word,
So slept with him on a Sunday, then
He put my love to the sword.
He said that I’d have to keep his bed
For I had no place to go,
That I was fit for playing the *****
And he’d let my friends all know.’

‘I couldn’t cry, I would rather die
But my first thought was revenge,
My heart was broken forevermore
But my love would be avenged.
I ran his lordship an evil bath
With herbs and salts disguised,
Then held him down while it ate his flesh,
And put out both of his eyes.’

I leapt to my feet on hearing that,
And staggered back from my chair,
‘So now you know I’m a monster,
If you cross me, just beware!’
‘I think you’ve told me a pack of lies,
But I love your daughter, true!
I’m going to marry her come what may,
I swear, in spite of you!’

She rose and beckoned me follow her
And she led me through the gloom,
Down through a flagstone stairwell and
Into a tiny room,
A man lay there in an iron bath
That was filled to the brim with oil,
And only his face was still intact
Though his eyes had both been spoiled.

‘He hasn’t an ounce of flesh on him,
The oil just keeps him alive,
He’ll never get out of this bath again,’
But he’d heard us both arrive.
‘For God’s sake, **** me and end it now,’
He groaned from his oily tomb,
‘I will when you bring my Martin back,’
She whispered, there in the gloom.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough
But I’d lost my way inside,
I knew I couldn’t get married now
I was far too terrified.
She called me back and she raised her veil
And she said, ‘He stole my grace!’
I saw to my horror that syphilis
Had eaten part of her face!’

David Lewis Paget
1.9k · Nov 2013
She started wearing the corpse paint when
She’d just turned seventeen,
Renamed herself Pandora, though
Her real name was Jean,
We thought it was just a cult thing when
She dyed her hair pitch black,
Painted her lips and fingertips,
She looked like a shark attack.

With piercings in her eyebrows, tongue
And thumb rings on each hand,
An ankle chain that proclaimed her game,
‘I’m anyone’s, on demand!’
She’d go to the Metal concerts or
She’d sit and sulk in her room,
And file her eye-teeth down to a point,
And scare herself in the gloom.

She kept a tin trunk under her bed
That she’d picked up second-hand,
But wouldn’t let on just what it held,
She said it was contraband,
We thought that she might grow out of it,
Get sick of being a Goth,
But that was before she came on it,
A huge, Death’s Head Hawkmoth.

She’d always collected butterflies
A Lepidoptera freak,
They hung in frames with her Gothic games
And she pinned them every week.
She’d bring them fluttering in a jar
And she’d spread their tiny wings,
Lay them down on a plaster board
And stick them there, with pins.

She brought the Hawkmoth home one day
And she let it out in her room,
She said she wouldn’t be pinning it,
It danced to an evil tune.
‘It foretells war, and famine, death!’
She said as she watched it fly,
She seemed entranced as she watched it dance
For her mouth was open wide.

I didn’t see, but I heard her choke
And I found her on the floor,
Trying to retch the hawkmoth up
As she choked and spat, and swore,
‘It flew right into my open mouth
And it’s gone right down my throat!
I feel it fluttering way down there,
Will it **** me, if I choke?’

‘It’s probably dead by now,’ I said,
‘It couldn’t survive your bile,
It’s just like eating a turkey roast
You’ll digest it, in a while.’
‘I don’t feel well,’ said the Goth from hell,
But she took a sip of Coke,
Then hid away for the rest of the day
Wrapped up in her Gothic cloak.

She’d never been very talkative
But she now clammed up for good,
She’d sit in the gloom of her darkened room,
We thought it was just a mood.
But then I opened her bedroom door
To check on our evil Goth,
And out there flew, more than a few
Of the Death’s Head strain, Hawkmoth.

Pandora lay way back on the bed
And her mouth was open wide,
All I could hear was fluttering, fluttering
Coming from way inside,
And moths were flying out of her mouth
In a steady stream to the room,
And all the walls and ceiling, covering,
Moths in the afternoon.

A week had passed from the funeral,
The coffin was sealed with glue,
For moths kept fluttering out of her mouth
With nothing that we could do.
I finally opened her old tin chest
And found it was full of moths,
Of every species, fluttering, fluttering
Out of Pandora’s Box.

David Lewis Paget
1.8k · Sep 2013
The Convent at Cape Fury
The Convent at Le Cap Fureur
Lies empty, by the sea,
Its ancient walls a grim despair
Of anonymity,
No more the chants of singing Nuns
To vespers, weave their way,
A thousand years of heartfelt prayers
In silence, drift away.

The Sisterhood of Sainte Bernice
Is cloistered there no more,
The end came in a fury from
The world outside, at war,
The Nuns were fasting, deep in Lent,
When soldiers came across
To find each sister worshipping
The Stations of the Cross.

No godly men were in their ranks
No thoughts of sin or Christ,
The Nuns were ***** and beaten in
Some pagan sacrifice,
The Abbess stood with arms outstretched
And prayed, ‘Forgive them not!’
Was taken to the courtyard where
The sergeant had her shot.

There’s blood still on those convent walls
It leaches out at Lent,
Runs down the walls of dim-lit halls
And stains the grey cement,
We lodged there late one April night
Myself, Joylene and Drew,
Lay staring at the stars above
As round us, silence grew.

We slept within those hallowed walls
Until I woke in fright,
And roused the others, ‘Come and see
This strange and fearful sight!’
For out there in the entrance hall
We heard a weird chant,
And two long lines of Nuns approached
To keep their covenant.

Two lines of candles in the dark,
The Nuns wore hoods and cowls,
And as each candle flickered out
Their chant gave way to howls.
Screams and pleas then filled the air,
The sound of steel-capped boots,
A pagan army from the east
Of rough and raw recruits.

Joylene was in hysterics by
The time this vision went,
And Drew was praying loudly on
That final day of Lent,
We grabbed our things, rushed out and then
We heard a single shot,
The blood-stained Abbess blocked our way
And cried: ‘Forgive them not!’

David Lewis Paget
1.7k · Jan 2014
The Final Message
He put a flint to the lantern once
They’d walked across the crest,
Were lost in a group of headstones that
Lay hidden from the rest,
And down in a slight depression he
Lit up a certain tomb,
Where the name of Elspeth Trelawney
Was reflected in the gloom.

Trelawney held up the lantern high
While Corby held the *****,
And Gordon Bracks with an old pick-axe
Stood back, he was afraid.
‘I fear the spirits are out tonight
In this graveyard of the ******!’
‘Get on, and turn up the sod,’ he said,
Trelawney forced his hand.

The Squire was quiet and ashen-faced
As the two had bent their backs,
Corby tipping the earth aside
Then standing aside for Bracks,
‘The earth is solid, it’s packed right down,
We need to pick it loose,’
‘Just do whatever you have to do,
There’s little time to lose!’

The Squire had buried his Elspeth back
In eighteen twenty-four,
For seven years he had held his grief
But he couldn’t take much more,
‘I have to see her again,’ he said,
To kiss her pale, dead lips,
To stroke the hair on my darling’s head
And caress her fingertips.’

She’d taken the coach and four one day
Way out in the countryside,
The coachman, used to a horse and dray,
Had begun to speed the ride,
He whipped the horses and lost the reins
As the coach began to slide,
Tipped the coach in the watercourse
Where Elspeth drowned and died.

He hadn’t looked at his lover’s face
Before she was interred,
But tried to avoid the loss of grace
In her face that was inferred.
‘I only want to remember her
As she was in the flush of life,
Not in the throes of death,’ he’d said
When talking about his wife.

They’d rushed to hurry the burial,
On the day that she was found,
Popped her into a coffin, then,
Planted her in the ground,
Trelawney later had agonised
That he hadn’t let her lie,
‘I couldn’t bear her to be around,’
He said, with a tearful eye.

But now he wanted to see her face,
They lifted the coffin lid,
While Gordon Bracks had turned his back
To see what Trelawney did,
The horror showed on the Squire’s face
As he gazed into her eyes,
For Elspeth lay in a bleak dismay
As her fate was realized.

Her hands were raised and they looked like claws
They’d scratched at the coffin lid,
The clumps of hair she had torn right out
Was the final thing she did,
And on the lid she had scratched his name
In the torment of the ******,
‘Trelawney, may you be cursed by God!’
She’d scratched, with her dying hand.

David Lewis Paget
1.7k · Dec 2013
The Toadstool Man
He was known as the local Mycophagist
In the dales, the woods and the hills,
What happened was sad, for he wasn’t so bad
Just a tad underdone, Toby Gills,
They say that the cord was around his neck,
He was born with a carroty mop,
And a pale white head, he was almost dead
When the doctor had called out ‘Stop!’

They cut the cord and they let him breathe,
The damage was already done,
The blood had been stopped to his carroty top
So they said that he’d always be dumb.
But he found a niche where the fungi creeps
And went out collecting the spore,
In a year or two he knew more than you
And the college Professor next door.

He studied his mushrooms with loving intent,
He knew about hen of the woods,
He knew about bracket and shaggy manes, magic
And paddy straw, they were the goods;
He fostered his lobster and hedgehog and oyster
And coral fungi and stinkhorns,
But didn’t discern between fly agarics
And toadstools that grew in the lawn.

He grew his spore in a deep, dark cellar
And sold to the folk who came by,
And never would judge between Widow Weller
And the ordinary witches of Rye,
He’d sell death caps, and pigskin puffballs
Not thinking to question them why,
Or who would be eating his laughing Jim’s
And whether they knew they would die.

The air was thick and the air was damp
And he fell in the dark one day,
Scattering toadstools into the air
And their spores had floated away,
He breathed the spores right into his lungs
For he hadn’t been wearing a mask,
But ****** them in right over his tongue
And they came to his lungs, at last.

I happened to see him out in the street
He was finding it hard to breathe,
He could only take a couple of steps
Then sit on the kerb, to heave,
I tried to help but he waved me away
And his eyes were yellow and cruel,
Then I saw what he’d thrown up on the kerb
Some yellow and red toadstools.

The man was a walking toadstool spore
They were popping up out of his hair,
Pushing their way though his carroty top
In a bid to get to the air,
And his skin was blotched like a puffball, he
Looked up at me, and he cried,
As a giant toadstool grew from his throat
And he lay on his side, and died.

David Lewis Paget
1.6k · Jan 2014
I’d only woken an hour before
And it seemed to cause a stir,
With people pouring into the room,
Coming from everywhere,
They looked excited, stared at me
And I stared right back, confused,
But nobody said a word to me
And I started feeling used.

‘What the hell…’ I began to say,
But a nurse told me to hush,
Stuck a thermometer into my mouth
Then tried to feed me mush,
She cleared the room and a doctor came
And read my chart with a frown,
‘Welcome back to the world,’ he said,
‘It’s changed, since you were around.’

I couldn’t make head or tail of this,
I didn’t know where I was,
Loaded with tubes, I raised my arms
And flapped like an albatross,
‘Let me get out of here,’ I said,
‘I need to get up and walk!’
‘Your legs won’t carry you anywhere
Just yet, but we have to talk.’

He said I’d been out a long, long time,
It would take more time to adjust,
To start, he asked if I knew my name
So I told him, Benjamin Rust.
And then I remembered the bicycle
That I’d ridden down to the shop,
And the four wheel drive that had sped right by,
Too bad that it didn’t stop!

Then slowly figures came back to me,
A head full of raven hair,
Those pouting lips that had tempted me
And a dimple or two to spare,
She’d arched her brows in a quizzical way
When I’d shown her the double bed,
Then laughed, ‘You’re getting ahead of yourself,
I first need a ring,’ she said.

We’d courted all through the summer months
And made love late in the fall,
I’d said, ‘I don’t want a part of you,
I’d be content with it all!’
We wed in a little country church
Where the rain dripped down from the eaves,
And strolled from the vestry, hand in hand
As a breeze had fluttered the leaves.

My heart had leapt in that sterile room
As I caught the scent of her hair,
I said, ‘Is Jocelyn waiting here?’
The doctor continued to stare.
‘You have to know that your world has changed
And the change may bring you tears,
You haven’t been out for a week or so,
But over a number of years.’

I was feeling the panic rise in me
As those dreaded words sank in,
‘Over a number of years,’ he’d said,
As if I’d committed a sin!
And then, ‘How old do you think you are?’
I replied, ‘I’m twenty-two!’
He shook his head at the foot of the bed,
‘There’s a shock still coming to you.’

He wouldn’t say, and he went away
As I lay there, feeling grim,
So I asked the nurse, ‘How old am I?’
But she said, ‘Just wait for him.’
At three in the afternoon I sensed
A shadow, stood at the door,
And there was a matronly woman there
Who must have been fifty-four.

She said, ‘I can’t believe you’re awake,
We’d long given up on you,
They asked me to come to the hospital,
And I needed to see, it’s true.’
Her hair was grey, but she had a way
That dredged a dream from the past,
She said, ‘Do you know me, Jocelyn?
It’s good to see you at last.’

The horror rose in my throat at that,
My heart hung still in my chest,
‘My God, you look like your mother now…’
‘I knew that you’d be distressed.
I got a divorce when you didn’t wake
After ten long years in this bed,
I feel so sad, but I wed again…’
Her words, like knives in my head.

I’d lain in a coma, thirty years
Why didn’t they let me die?
Jocelyn said she paid for me
In hopes, she didn’t say why.
This world is a terrifying place
When you lose the love of your life,
And wake to the loss of thirty years…
I’ll slit my veins with a knife!

David Lewis Paget
1.6k · Jan 2014
The Pier of Dreams
Elijah worked at the further end
Of the Port McDonald pier,
His job was simply to keep the light
Bright burning through the year,
All he’d see were the seagulls who
Would swoop and dive in the spray,
As the sea beat up on the jetty piles
On a cold, dark winter’s day.

His mother had died of a broken heart
Long after his father fled,
Had loosed the chains of his fatherhood
For a life on the sea instead,
They’d put him into an orphanage
Where he learned to abide the rod,
And found that his supplications and
His prayers fell short of God.

The universe was an empty space,
A vast, unseeing sky,
There wasn’t a presence watching him
As they’d said, in the days gone by,
He ached for a revelation that
Would show he was not alone,
A single soul in the firmament
In front of an empty throne.

He’d never managed to make a friend
In the long, sad years of life,
And women, though they avoided him
He longed for a sweet young wife,
His isolation was made complete
When he walked back to his room,
After a night on the lonely pier
In the early morning gloom.

One night a waif from the city streets
Sought shelter from the storm,
Huddled against the cabin wall
Where he sat, both safe and warm,
He heard her shuffle and took her in
And gave her tea from the urn,
And fell in love with her sad, grey eyes,
A waif from the city, spurned.

She came again, and again each night,
They talked until the dawn,
And weaved their dreams and their fantasies
Of a world they’d neither known,
But then one night the Inspector came,
A grim, ungiving man,
Who frowned, and he told the girl to leave,
He said that she was banned.

She waited, shivering in the cold
In the lee of the old sea wall,
Til he came hurrying from his shift
As the dawn spread over all,
He wrapped her up in his coat, and cried
He could do no more than this,
But she clung on to his lonely form
And she gave him his first kiss.

He took her back to his room to stay
And he watched her as she slept,
If she had opened her eyes that day
She would see Elijah wept,
‘I won’t go back to those lonely nights,’
Was the thought that gripped his mind,
To lose his midnight companion now
He thought, was most unkind.

That night, he told her to meet him there
At the far end of the pier,
‘Just as the clock strikes one!’ She said,
‘I’ll be there, never fear.’
He’d soaked the pier in kerosene
Just twenty yards from the end,
And when she arrived, he said, ‘You’ll see,
They won’t part us, my friend.’

At two in the morning, up it went
In a blaze of fire and smoke,
The centre part of the pier ablaze
As they watched it, neither spoke,
A gap appeared as it all fell in
Was extinguished by the sea,
But the end stood tall like a sailing ship
That had set the couple free.

The storm that ravaged the coast that night
Kept the lifeboat on the shore,
They wanted to go and rescue him,
The Inspector said, ‘What for?’
While they looked out at the raging sea
Made plans for the world they’d won,
And when the light of the dawn approached
The end of the pier had gone.

David Lewis Paget
1.6k · Aug 2013
The Winding Stair
I took a room on the second floor
Of a building lost in time,
Nobody knew just when it was built
By way of its weird design.
It once had stood on an acreage
Of woods, and lakes and sky,
But now it stood in a fifth rate slum
And the world had passed it by.

Its red-brick frontage streaked with soot,
Its columns black with grime,
The marble floor with ancient foot
Was scored, and past its prime,
But any roof was a comfort then
For my life had lost its way,
And I couldn’t face the future then,
Nor yet, the light of day.

The janitor was an **** man
And he had but one good eye,
He’d only let to the down-and-outs
And tramps that were passing by,
He made the rules for the ancient place
And he said, ‘Just you beware,
Don’t ever go to the back of the house
Or use the winding stair.’

He knew I’d agree to anything
For I had nowhere to go,
Since ever my wife had turned me out
For a butcher, name of Joe.
The years we’d spent were meaningless
Once she’d set her sights on him,
So I left without a word or a prayer
But kept my feelings in.

Up above was another floor
That was empty all the time,
The janitor said, ‘it’s not in use,
It’s just too hard to climb.’
And above that floor was another room
With the windows painted black,
And accessed by the winding stair
I’d been warned about, out back.

It was lonely there on the second floor
It was quiet as the tomb,
I got to wondering what was there
Upstairs in the topmost room,
There were noises, scuffles and fumblings,
At times in the early hours,
But when I asked the janitor why,
All that I got were glowers.

‘This house has plenty of secrets but
It keeps them to itself,
As you’d be better to keep to yours,
Rather than dig and delve,
I trust that you’ll never get the urge
To leave the second floor,
If ever I catch you out, my friend
I’ll see you out the door.’

His threats were making me curious
So I listened, quite intent,
At two or three in the morning when
Some noise was evident,
I climbed one night to the floor above
And I saw the winding stair,
And what was coming and going sent
A shock through my greying hair.

There were figures in shiny silver suits
Came in and out from the street,
Carrying cats and rats and dogs
Like specimens, all asleep,
And a terrible growl from the topmost room
Rang out when they opened the door,
And sent a shiver like ice along
My spine, from the upper floor.

And down the stairway creatures came
That I’d only seen in books,
Handed to strangers down below
With a nod, or merely a look,
They’d been extinct for a million years
Or had in the books I’d read,
But not a one of them lived or breathed,
They seemed to be newly dead.

I got back down to my room again
Shivered, and closed the door,
Sat in a quivering heap of dread
But I knew that I wanted more,
They must have come from a future time
And delved way into the past,
Why would they want our cats and dogs,
Had they lost their own, at last?

I went again on succeeding nights
The traffic was still the same,
For men of science and drunken girls
And still the strangers came,
But then a bellow from in that room
And a crunching, crashing sound,
With voices raised in the midnight gloom,
The janitor came, and frowned.

‘You’ve seen too much, now you’ll have to stay,’
He growled, and pointed a gun,
Prodded me up the winding stair
‘Til we saw what was going on,
The door to the topmost room was blocked
By an animal, tightly jammed,
‘My god, we’ll have to get out of here,
This never was part of the plan.’

Two giant tusks blocked the winding stair
As I looked in its evil eye,
Its head and shoulders had blocked the door
With no way of getting by,
It let out a giant trumpet blast
Of pain, as I turned to run,
This was no elephant, that I knew,
But a giant Mastodon.

Then up above was a steady whine
Like a jet that was winding up,
‘Don’t leave me here,’ cried the janitor,
‘I have to get back, just stop!’
But the roof of the house was lifting up
And the bricks were falling away,
I caught a glimpse of a saucer shape
As this thing took off that day.

The winding stair came crashing down
With nothing to stop its fall,
I landed down in the basement, found
Myself by a Roman wall,
The janitor, not so fortunate
Was crushed by the falling beast,
Killed by a thing, so long extinct,
By a million years, at least.

I didn’t wait for the powers that be
But took myself on the road,
Looking for somewhere else to stay
To hide away from the cold,
I found me a mansion, streaked with soot
With its columns, black with grime,
And thought, as I took a second look,
It seemed to be lost in time!

David Lewis Paget
1.6k · Jul 2013
The Man from a Distant Star
He was standing out on the balcony
While the party raged inside,
I’d had enough of the trivial talk,
Boosting each other’s pride,
I went and I stood some feet away
As he stared up at the stars,
‘Your sky is rather ordinary,
Not in the least like ours!’

I managed a double take at that
I’d noticed him once before,
He seemed to be on his own, and lonely
Sad, and a bit unsure,
He watched the girls in their party clothes
As they laughed, and talked and sighed,
‘Our Evrons never would dress like that
The colours would hurt their eyes.’

I laughed, thought he was having me on
But he didn’t even smile,
‘I shouldn’t have jumped the Interspace
But stuck with the Stellar Mile,
They said to avoid the Milky Way
But me, I jumped the gun,
The only reason they’d come this way
Is to dump, on the Garbage Run.’

‘I think you’re a little eccentric, and
You’re maybe a little drunk,
You don’t look much like an alien,
And aliens, well, they’re bunk!
But now you’re going to tell me you’re
A little green man from Mars!’
‘Oh, much, much further than that,’ he said
‘I come from a distant star.’

‘Oh yes,’ I said, just to humour him
But a chill crept up my spine,
He seemed so positive, standing there
A man from another time.
‘So tell me, what is so different to
The place that you call your home.’
He offered the piece de resistance then,
‘We live in an Astrodome.’

‘The air surrounding planet Vair
Has become too thin to breathe,
Since ever the trees and lipids died
And we found that we couldn’t leave.
The planet was ***** and plundered
For a million years or so,
And now it’s a dying shell we need
To find some planet to go.’

‘I think that I may have found it, though
Your culture’s such a bore,
You worship all material things
And your planet’s still at war,
We’ll have to thin out your people and
Improve your planet’s race,
You’re going to have to move over when
We come from outer space.’

‘How many of you are here right now?’
I tried to sound surprised,
He said, ‘I’m travelling on my own,’
And I looked into his eyes,
‘So none of your people know we’re here
Until you decide to tell!’
He turned to me, and he shook his head,
I said, ‘That’s just as well.’

I walked him around the garden and
I picked his brains for hours,
He told me about their laser rays
And their telepathic powers,
Then finally when he asked my leave
And buttoned up his coat,
I stabbed him with some garden shears
Leant down, and cut his throat!

David Lewis Paget
1.5k · Aug 2013
‘There were icicles hung from the window-sill
At dawn, when I thought to peep,
And the snow’s built up to the top of the door,
It must be six feet deep.’
Diane was shivering under her gown
When she crawled back into bed,
‘You’d better go out and fix it, Phil,’
‘Too late for that,’ I said.

I’d peered on out of the window and
The sun was shining bright,
The birds were twittering in the trees
Awake in the early light,
There wasn’t a sign of ice or snow
At the door, or window-sill,
I went to check on Diane, because
I thought that she must be ill.

She lay, still shivering in the bed
I thought that she had the ague,
‘The ice is deep in your soul,’ I said,
But her eyes were cold and vague,
‘The ice is there on the window ledge
And the snow is piled at the door,
Go out and clear it away for me
Before it spreads to the floor.’

I stopped to look at the mantelpiece
At the picture of our son,
She’d cut him off with never a word
For some trivial thing he’d done,
We hadn’t seen him for seven years
And he never phoned or called,
She’d not shed even a single tear
And for that, I was appalled.

‘The cold is eating my very bones
I can feel it creeping in,’
She seemed so suddenly old and grey
(There are several types of sin).
‘Will you not go out and shovel the snow
For the wife that you used to love?’
‘I would if the snow was at the door,
But the sun is bright above.’

‘You haven’t loved me for years,’ she said,
‘You never do what I want!’
‘Love is a two-way street,’ I said,
‘Not a one-way covenant.
Before we take, then we have to give
So the feeling is returned,
But you’ve locked yourself in your tiny soul
And you’ve left me feeling spurned.’

‘I give you what you deserve,’ she said
‘Since you let our daughter go,
You let her marry beneath her,
As I said, ‘I told you so!’
‘You made our daughter unhappy, by
Rejecting the one she loved,
You wouldn’t go to the wedding, so
She said that she’d had enough!’

‘The ice has formed on the ceiling now,
Why can’t you feel the cold?’
‘The ice and snow that you’re seeing is
The ice cave of your soul.’
‘I’ve hated you for many a year,’
She spat, and she said it twice,
‘That’s sad, for I’ve always loved you,’
I began, but her eyes were ice.

David Lewis Paget
1.5k · Jul 2013
The Thing in the Tent
We’d all been out to the Carnival,
Had chilled and thrilled and cried,
And Patsy laughed that she’d wet her pants
On the killer Monster Ride,
While Orville’s face was covered in floss
In a pink and sticky goo,
And I limped past the Penny a Toss
With something stuck to my shoe.

I’d won a horrible Voodoo Doll
That I tried to pass to Kate,
She said, ‘No fear, if I took that home
I would just lie there, awake!’
We’d had our fun on the Octopus
Though the Mouse had made me sick,
And the Big Wheel stopped in a passing cloud
At the height of a laughing fit..

A spider deep in the Ghost Train came
Unstuck in Patsy’s hair,
And Kate had shrieked, for Patsy had
No clue that it was there.
We threw it one to the other, first
To Orville, then to Jack,
But then it landed on some old dear
And gave her a heart attack!

We laughed and pranced and we danced beside
The sideshows – ‘Way to go!’
But Orville fumbled the rifle and
He shot some guy in the toe,
We had to run but were laughing there
So hard, and fit to bust,
That Richard ruptured himself out there,
And now he’s wearing a truss!

The time it had come to wander home
So we wiped off Orville’s goo,
But I had trouble in walking with
That thing, still stuck to my shoe.
I slid and wiped and I scraped at it
But nothing would make it budge,
Said Jack, ‘Just what do you think it is?’
I replied, ‘some sort of sludge.’

We got to the edge of the fairground
And the others wandered home,
But I was stuck, I couldn’t move,
I was standing there, alone.
And then my foot had begun to turn
Back to the lights and sound,
I felt myself, being impelled
By my shoe across the ground.

I tried to twist and I tried to turn
But my shoe was saying, ‘No!’
I had to follow wherever it went,
Wherever it wanted to go.
It took me back through the alleyways
Still lit with a thousand globes,
I felt a bit like a Brahman Bull
With a steel ring through my nose.

It dragged my foot through the mud and slush
And the other followed too,
I didn’t have much of a choice, I thought
As long as I wore the shoe,
It led me in to a darkened tent
With a dais, up on high,
Where a shadow sat in an old top hat
With a single gleaming eye.

The shadow opened its mouth to speak
And its teeth were long and sharp,
‘What have you brought me now to eat,
Some dross you found in the park?’
The voice was deep, was a muffled growl
And it shook the earthen floor,
The shoe was dragging me forward as
I turned for the flap of a door.

I felt a wrench and the shoe came off
So I hopped and ran like mad,
The growl of the shadow had freaked me out,
It had to be more than bad!
My father gave me a hiding when
He found that I’d lost my shoe,
He wouldn’t listen when I exclaimed:
‘You would have lost it, too!’

Next day the shoe was sat at my door
Its prints deep pressed in the lawn,
I couldn’t have put that shoe back on
If the Devil had blown his horn.
I took a stick and I picked it up
And dropped it straight in the bin,
I couldn’t go near a Carnival now,
I’m too attached to my skin!

David Lewis Paget
1.5k · Oct 2013
The Island
They’d all set off for an island, that
Was fifty miles off the coast,
They were only going to stay a day
And a night, or two at most,
There were seven men and a woman there
On a twenty metre yacht,
The sea was calm and the breeze was light
And the day was rather hot.

‘What do you think we’ll find out there,’
Said the salesman, Alan Brown,
‘Whatever it is,’ the lawyer said,
‘It’s away from the **** of town.’
‘We’ll probably find ourselves again,’
Said the Judge, Lord  Allenby,
‘In a part of the world still pure, unspoiled
Like the way that we used to be.’

‘We may even find the Godhead,’ said
The Reverend Michael Shaw,
‘He hasn’t been seen around for years
And that’s what I’m looking for.’
‘I doubt if you’ll find him way out here,’
Said Franks, the Physicist,
‘Modern Science has followed his tracks
And proved, he doesn’t exist.’

‘Maybe we’ll find the remains of men,’
Said the archaeologist,
‘An ancient settlement, tumbled down
And pottery shards, to list!’
‘To me, you sound like a crazy lot,’
Said the butcher, Roger Dunn,
‘I just want to score a wild boar
So I brought along a gun.’

They’d sailed right into an island cove
When Mary Martin spoke,
Her eyes were dark and her hair was black
And she wore a scarlet cloak,
‘You’ll not find anything that you seek
But the runes of Druid lore,
For this is the ancient gods retreat
As you’ll find, when you explore.’

They rowed ashore in the dinghy
Pulled the boat high up on the sand,
Then each went off in his different way
To search for the inner man,
The Judge walked up to the highest cliff
To regret his judgement seat,
And as he fell to the rocks below
Knew all that he’d sown, he’d reaped.

The lawyer walked through the undergrowth
And fought his way through the vines,
The briars tore at his face and clothes
As he’d fought each case with lies,
He cried for help from the others as
The vines wrapped round his throat,
But couldn’t utter a plea for himself
As he fell to the ground, and choked.

The archaeologist had found
The ruins of ancient walls,
And thought of the riches taken back
He’d stolen from Mayan Halls,
He’d just unearthed a fabulous vase
Encrusted with amethysts,
When a wall collapsed, a future task
For some archaeologist.

A shot rang out, and it echoed then
The length of the island shore,
The Physicist dashed around the point
Expecting to see a boar.
But the butcher stood with his jaw agape
By the mouth of a cave, due south,
For the salesman bore lay dead on the floor
So he put the gun to his mouth.

Franks threw up as the butcher died
But walked right up to the cave,
He peered in as a rumble grew,
A voice dredged up from the grave,
‘You don’t believe in a god that’s real
You’re wrong, there’s more than a few,’
The ground then opened and swallowed him up,
‘Your science has done for you!’

The Reverend Michael Shaw was there
When the ground closed up again,
Crossed himself as he ran away
And he prayed and said, ‘Amen!
He pushed the dinghy down from the beach
And he rowed straight back to the yacht,
‘Preserve me Lord, from a fate like that,
If that’s God, I know him not!’

When Mary Martin got to the cave
It was late, was near on dusk,
She placed wild flowers there at the mouth
With a scent that smelled like musk,
‘I come in peace, I’m a nature’s child,
Though I’ve come from a world of sin.’
The voice then whispered, deep in the cave
‘For your grace, just come right in.’

David Lewis Paget
1.4k · Nov 2013
I Only Have Eyes for You!
The store had been closed for a month or more,
The Receivers opened the door,
To auction off all the fittings there,
Whatever stood on the floor,
There were counters, mirrors, plenty of stock,
The tills and the ******* bins,
It was all going under the hammer,
Even a line of mannequins.

When John McRogers happened to pass
He heard the clamour inside,
He peered on in through the window glass
And he watched the human tide,
The bids were coming from everywhere
From phones, and spread through the store,
So he wandered into the human mass
And made his way from the door.

He wandered along the vacant aisles
Saw everything piled in heaps,
There wasn’t much of a bidding war
So everything went quite cheap,
He wondered if he should make a bid
Was there anything there for him?
His eyes then came to rest on a girl,
A fabulous mannequin.

She stood in a line of eight or nine
But caught his eye from the start,
He thought that she had the bluest eyes
Of all, and she stood apart!
She must have been all of six foot six
With a tapering line to the waist,
And ******* of promise and silken legs
A woman of style and taste.

He put in a nervous bid when she
Was auctioned along the line,
But nobody put in a counter bid,
And he thought to himself, ‘She’s mine!’
He had a courier pick her up
And take her straight to his home,
Then stood her up in his office, where
He could savour her there, alone.

She hadn’t a scrap of clothing on
They’d taken it off when she went,
He tried to avert his eyes, she showed
No sign of embarrassment,
Her hands hung limply down at her side
No effort to cover up,
But her eyes had followed him round the room,
Whenever he’d start, or stop.

‘I’m going to call you Jennifer,’
He said to himself, out loud,
Then sensed she shuddered and straightened up
In a movement that seemed quite proud,
His wife had left him the year before
For a keeper, down at the zoo,
So now he said, and in fact he swore,
‘I only have eyes for you!’

‘I only have eyes for you, my dear,
My Jennifer from Le Trée,
I’ll always cherish you near me here
When I work out here, all day,
We’ll spend our evenings here in the warm
With a single desk-top light,
And in the gloom of this little room
You might even come to life!’

He left her naked, stood by his desk,
She had an ****** air,
The wig she wore flowed over her back
Brunette, but the lights were fair,
He worked each night at his desk in gloom
Lit only by one small stand,
And every now and again he’d rouse,
Reach over and touch her hand.

The hand was cold, plastic and hard
And it couldn’t return a thing,
Until one night, he opened a box
And slipped on a wedding ring,
He worked away for an hour or so
Til he’d filled out a batch of forms,
Then reached unconsciously out for her hand
To find it was soft and warm.

He looked up into her shining face
And noticed, to his surprise,
Her cheeks had softened, her lips were red
And a lovelight shone from her eyes,
He stood and reached for her willing form
And she did what he wanted to,
But an urgent message tugged at his brain,
‘I only have eyes for you!’

‘I only have eyes for you,’ she thought
And beamed that into his head,
He never would leave that office again,
His friends soon thought he was dead.
They came in force, broke into his house
And found that he’d really gone,
‘There’s only a couple of mannequins here,
But one of them looks like John!’

David Lewis Paget
1.3k · Jul 2013
Gretchen wept in her easy chair
And called for her husband, Karl,
They’d been together for sixty years,
Though both were worn and frail.
They’d met in the ruins of München, when
The ***** collapsed and fell,
Escaped to live in Australia
From their own idea of hell.

For Karl had served in the Wehrmacht,
In a Tank Corps at Dieppe,
Had served in the Panzergruppe von Kleist
Had roamed the Russian steppes,
His tank had taken him through Ukraine
They’d taken the plains by force,
But found their pain when the Russians came,
In their huge T-34’s.

But that was the world of way back when,
For Karl was old and grey,
He slept a lot in his tidy home,
The nurse came every day,
His wife developed dementia, she’d
Forget where she used to roam,
So she was parted from husband Karl,
Was sent to a Nursing Home!

He walked with the aid of a walking frame,
He couldn’t quite get around,
But listened for echoes of Gretchen’s voice
In the house that made no sound,
And all he thought was to rescue her,
To bring his girl back home,
But the powers that be said: ‘Wait and see!’
She was lost to him - Alone!

He went to visit her, once a week,
They held each other's hand,
She cried so much when he had to leave,
She never could understand,
And he was desolate every time,
He’d cling to her so tight,
That they had to prise his hand away
When they sent him away at night.

The nurses were harsh and businesslike,
To them it was just a job,
With no compassion for patients, they
Would leave all that to God.
Demented souls ran over his feet
With trolleys and walking frames,
When Karl grew angry, they shrugged and said:
‘Well - Everyone complains!’

One Sunday, standing outside the doors,
He saw his Tiger Tank,
It growled, and pulled up beside him there
And the diesel fumes, they stank.
He climbed aboard with his comrades there,
And ‘Schnell!’ they called, to a man,
Then lumbered straight through the double doors,
The nurses turned and ran!

The Tiger reared and it turned about
Tore carpet up from the floor,
The tracks ran over the matron’s feet,
Let out a fearful roar,
The patients cheered as the Iron Cross
Raced past their common room,
And smashed the glass in the office door,
And crushed the sister’s urn!

Then Gretchen laughed as he came in sight,
‘Here comes my husband, Karl!
He'll break us out of this prison ward,
Can you hear his Tiger snarl?’
He stopped and reached for his Gretchen then
Looked deep in her eyes, and swore:
‘I’ll not be parted from you again
Though hell should bar the door!’

They found them lying together there,
He held her safe in his arms,
They'd gone together where lovers go
Away from the world's alarms.
‘He went quite crazy,’ the Matron said,
‘He must have been insane!’
For lying outside her shattered door
Was his twisted walking frame!

David Lewis Paget
1.3k · Aug 2013
The Wizard of Barkly Chase
He came unbidden one frosty night
To the village of Barkly Chase,
He didn’t look out of the ordinary
But carried a single case,
The empty cottage of Peggy Sykes
Had been rented once before,
The neighbours watched as the Wizard walked
Right up to the old front door.

‘He’s going in, it’s as sure as sin,’
Said the Widow Marx from her blinds,
‘I’ll tell old Mrs. McCafferty
He’ll be playing around with our minds.’
She’d heard a wizard was headed their way
From Jenny, the Witch of the Moor,
And had bought up seventeen toilet rolls
From Rafferty’s village store.

‘What would you want with seventeen rolls,’
Said Ethel McGurk with the gout,
‘I don’t, it’s part of my strategy,
I’m going to drive him out.
There isn’t a store in a couple of miles
And they’re not delivered ‘til June,
We’ll see how long he can go without
When he’s bursting his balloon.’

The women cackled with evil glee,
They thought it a perfect plan,
‘We’ll see how his spells will help him out
When he has to use his hand.’
‘He’ll not come near, I can tell you that,’
Said the ******, Hazel Pace,
‘If he so much looks, I will knock him flat,
I’ve got fifteen cans of mace.’

The Wizard stayed for a week, he did,
And never came out the door,
The week turned into a fortnight, and
He looked like staying for more.
‘He must have been constipated,’ said
The Widow Marx to her friend,
‘He probably had a roll in his case,’
Said the woman from Brissom End.

Excitement grew in the village square,
‘His washing’s out on the line,
I’d never have looked but I saw it flap,
It’s a most mysterious sign!’
They held their breath at the news from Beth:
‘There are demons all over his jocks,
And you wouldn’t credit the Wizard’s gall,
There are magic stripes on his socks!’

A month went by, and the women pried
At night when his lights were out,
They’d peer on in though his curtains,
Widow Marx and the one with gout.
‘He’s got himself a computer thing
Those ones that glow through the house,
And he’s keeping a little familiar there,
I heard him call it ‘The Mouse’.

They lifted their skirts in horror, and
The ****** had jumped on a chair,
‘Those magical mice are demon things
And they climb up everywhere.’
‘This Wizard’s going to be hard to crack,
I thought he’d be gone by now,
He has to be brewing a terrible spell,
We have to find out, but how?’

The Wizard went for a walk one night
When he thought to get some air,
And Hazel Pace jumped out of a tree,
Poured honey all through his hair,
The Widow Marx had a besom broom
And beat him over the head,
‘We know you’re plotting the village’s doom,
What about this, instead?’

The Wizard packed up his single case
And left the very next day,
All the women hung on the gate
And shouted ‘Hip hip, hooray!’
‘We beat the Wizard, we saw him off
With his spells and his little case!’
But they wonder why there isn’t a man
Within miles of Barkly Chase.

David Lewis Paget
1.3k · Sep 2013
Home from the Sea
Ben Sanders sat in his final days
By his cottage, up on the bluff,
He’d spent his life as a rover, and
He said, ‘I can’t get enough!
The sea, the sea, the lure of the sea,
It whispers at my front door,
And calls to me, here up on the bluff,
‘Come down, come down to the shore!’’

‘But I can’t go down and I won’t go down
For I daren’t go down, you see,
Not since I was caught in the maelstrom
When the seabed beckoned to me,
My mate had clung to the mast, while I
Had lashed myself to the rail,
And he went down to the stony ground
Along with the yards and sail.’

‘I hear the sound in my ears still
The roar of the whirling pool,
I’d cried, ‘Let go of the iron chest,
But he’d not let go, the fool.
It was filled with gold and pieces of eight,
Dubloons and precious stones,
It carried him down to an awful fate
Is spread, all over his bones.’

‘But I clung on ‘til the turn of the tide
I could almost touch the ground,
My head was spinning, deep in the pool
As the ship whirled round and round,
But then the tide began to subside
And I said goodbye to Bjork,
For then the ship rose up to the lip
And popped right up like a cork.’

‘We’d sailed forever the Spanish Main
The ship, Bjork and me,
And searched the atolls of rocks and sand
Of the Caribbean sea,
We found the treasure that Blackbeard hid
In a shaft, six fathoms deep,
Then Bjork had pined for Norwegian lands,
Said, ‘What we’ve got, we’ll keep!’

‘The further north that we sailed, the sea
Grew surly in its ride,
The waves crashed over the foredeck and
They tossed us, side to side,
The squalls came in and the rain came down
And we had to reef the sail,
The water rose in the bilge, until
I thought we’d have to bail.’

‘But then one night it was flat and calm
And the water lapped below,
I heard the voice of a siren then
That whispered, sweet and low:
‘Come down,’ she said, ‘you can rest your head
And give up your earthly seat,
But lie instead on a seaweed bed
With a mermaid at your feet.’’

‘I think of Bjork on the ocean bed
Though I don’t know where he lies,
His bones are covered with precious stones
With two dubloons for his eyes,
I’ve never been back to the sea since then
For I fear it, more and more,
As still it whispers on moonlit nights
‘Come down, come down to the shore!’’

Ben Sanders sat in his final days
By his cottage, facing the sea,
He seemed remote, but a final note
That he wrote was left for me.
‘My days of watching the sea are done,
I think that I’ve had enough!’
And then he strode as the tide arose
And walked, right over the bluff.

David Lewis Paget

(Inspired by E. A. Poe’s ‘A Descent into the Maelstrom).
1.3k · Sep 2013
The Hart Midsummer Fair
‘Just where do you think you’re going, girl
With those ribbons in your hair?’
‘I’m off to the world of Make Believe
To the Hart Midsummer Fair.
They say there’s a Magical Fairy Ring
Where the maids dance round a pole,
Where the step of a dainty pair of feet
Can win you a *** of gold.’

‘There’s Lords and Ladies and Dukes and Kings
Come down from the Castle Kragg,
Wearing their Crowns and jewels and rings
And they roast a new killed Stag,
There are clowns and jugglers, Gypsy bands
And the Phantom Fiddler’s there,
Playing an ancient Irish jig
At the Hart Midsummer Fair.’

‘The gentlemen from the town come down
All dressed in their best array,
Looking to win a country maid
To hang off their arm that day.
And those as willing, the auctioneer
Takes maids from the countryside,
Bangs his gavel and calls the odds
For the sale of a country bride.’

‘I’ll not have you at the County fair,
You can stay at the farm by me,
We’ve been affianced for over a year
And wed in a year, we’ll see!’
‘I’ve waited long for your promise to wed
But nothing has come about,
I’ll not be wed to an Ostler, when
A gentleman calls me out.’

He locked the maid in the pantry, so
She wouldn’t get out that day,
But she slipped the lock, and changed her dress
And managed to get away.
She went the way of the hidden lane
On the old grey dappled mare,
And rode on over the hills to find
The Hart Midsummer Fair.

She was late for the clowns and jugglers
She was late for the Fairy Ring,
She wasn’t too late for the auctioneer
Who told her to come right in.
She couldn’t see who was bidding for her
But she took it with a smile,
It must have been some fine gentleman
For the bidding was done in style.

‘Four pounds I’m bid, for this comely *****,
Four guineas to you out there,’
Another pound brought his gavel down
‘I believe that you’ve won her, sir!’
They tied a blindfold over her eyes
And her wrists were bound with cords,
She had to walk for a dozen miles
Tethered behind a horse.

The horse’s hooves had a hollow ring
As they hit the cobblestones,
The walls were damp and the air was filled
With a smell like drying bones.
Her ‘gentleman’ took the blindfold off
And her knees began to sag,
She’d sold herself to the Pantler of
The household, Castle Kragg.

The Pantler, so very old and grey
With a blind, white staring eye,
He said that she’d be the scullery maid
There were pots and pans to dry,
There wasn’t a single window in
The kitchen, down below,
She ****** the money he’d paid for her
And she begged him, let her go.

‘That’s not enough,’ said the wily serf,
‘To free you from these grounds,
If you want to purchase your liberty
It will cost you twenty pounds.
Your value is in the work you’ll do
Both here, and under the stairs,
If you pay your shilling a week to me
It will take you seven years!’

That night she slept on a pile of sacks
And she ****** the man away,
She said, ‘You’re not going to touch me
For as long as you make me pay!’
But late that night in the pale moonlight
A horse’s hooves were heard,
And a shadow crept to her bedside,
Whispered, ‘Don’t say a single word!’

He led her up to the courtyard where
There stood the dapple grey,
Hoisted her up behind him, spurred
The horse, ‘Now let’s away!’
She clung on tight to the Ostler she
Had spurned, without a care,
And laughed when they crested the hillside
As the breeze blew through her hair.

The banns went up the following day
They were married in the fall,
She said, ‘I finally got my way,’
And he answered, ‘Not at all!
‘You only married an Ostler, not
The Pantler under the stair.’
‘An Ostler’s all that I wanted since
The Hart Midsummer Fair!’

David Lewis Paget
1.3k · Jan 2014
The Winter of Her Heart
She was always essentially evil with
Her long, straight raven hair,
Her eyes as black as a midden, and
Her cheeks, so smooth and fair,
Her lips were ripe with the juice of love
Though she had no love to give,
But coloured them with a hint of blood
From her last aperitif.

She lived in an ice-bound castle, pitched
Next to a frozen lake,
Under a towering mountainside
As white as her wedding cake,
The clouds that hung on the mountain top
Were dark and as foul as sin,
And every day was a shade of grey
Where the sun could never get in.

She wandered the dark and gloomy halls
In a fur, but shivered her bones,
Her footsteps echoing off the walls
Her shadow cast on the stones,
The braziers on the passage wall
Would light her way to a room,
The room where a magic mirror hung
Reflected her in the gloom.

The hearth held a blazing yew tree log
That never seemed to go out,
Apart from a sneaking graveyard dog
There was nobody else about,
She’d stand in front of the mirror there
And look at her hard, cold face,
Say, ‘Mirror, when will you let me be,
I need to get out of this place!’

The face in the mirror grimly smiled
With a look of evil intent,
‘Why don’t you visit the dungeons, dear,
You know you need to repent.’
She tossed her head at the steely gaze
As her conscience peered on back,
‘I only did what I had to do
To replenish the blood I lack.’

The woman back in the mirror snarled
And she grew long pointed fangs,
Her brow had darkened, her eyes were fierce
‘We reflect our rights and wrongs.
The darkness deep in your cold, cold heart
Has entrapped this place in ice,
Compared to what lies ahead of you,
This place is Paradise.’

The woman turned and began to sob
And she paced the flagstoned floor,
There wasn’t a hint of the word ‘Repent’
As she opened the passage door,
She ran down several flights of steps
To the dungeon underneath,
Then stood and glared through the rusted bars
At her husband, Gordon Reith.

But Gordon sat on the ice cold floor
His back to an icy wall,
The frost had set on his face and hands
He wasn’t moving at all,
The puncture marks on his neck were red
With the last of his lifeblood flows,
She’d screamed the moment she’d found him dead
And ripped and torn at her clothes.

And that was the day the blizzard came
To freeze the lake in the night,
Covered the castle and mountain top
In an endless coat of white,
The mirror showed her an evil face
In place of the one she had,
‘You’ll not be drinking his blood again,
The blood of a corpse is bad!’

She opened the lock of the dungeon door
And she walked right into the cage,
Shook his body and gouged his face
In a wild, impotent rage,
The door had creaked as she turned her back
And it slammed and locked for good,
As the mirror fell from the wall above
And shattered where she’d stood.

A castle sits in a valley green
And beside a wide blue lake,
With mountains towering up above
To a sky where the sun’s awake,
You wouldn’t know that there once was snow
And I don’t know if you should,
But down in the dungeon lies a man
And the woman who drank his blood.

David Lewis Paget
1.3k · Aug 2013
Leap of Faith
‘There has to be something more than this,’
She said, with a thoughtful frown,
Standing over the farmhouse sink
And the dishes, looking down,
Her brother was out in the milking shed
And her mother had gone away,
They hadn’t seen her in fifteen years
But thought of her, every day.

They’d both grown up in the countryside
Secure on their father’s farm,
Had walked the mile to the little school
By way of Maltraver’s barn,
The air was pure and the nights were clear
They could see way up to the stars,
And Jessie would watch as the moon appeared
While her brother would stare at Mars.

They had their chores as they grew, of course,
For Adam would milk the cows,
While she would carry the bucket down
To feed the pigs and the sows,
There was fencing, drenching, ditching too
There was never a moment spare,
But Jessie fretted for something new
In the way of the world out there.

The father died in the Autumn time
And left the farm to his son,
‘Jessie will marry and move away
The way that it’s always done.’
She packed her bags when she turned eighteen
And she caught the bus to town,
She told her brother she’d keep in touch
But Adam was feeling down.

‘We’ve always been together,’ he said,
‘And now you’re going to roam,
When you get sick of the city lights
You can always come back home.’
‘I’m bored,’ she said, ‘with the simple life,
I’m going to have some fun,
She kissed him as she got on the bus,
Said, ‘Sorry, I have to run!’

She rented a small apartment with
Some money her father left,
And worked in Haile’s Department Store
In the basement, wrapping gifts,
She gradually met the bright young things
That hung in the clubs and bars,
Dangling chains and cheap gold rings
And high as the planet Mars.

‘It’s a totally different world out here,’
She wrote on home to the farm,
‘The place that they hold the dancing here
They call it ‘The City Barn!’
It’s full of strobes and coloured lights
And the music’s wild and free,
You’ll have to come to the city, bro
And I’ll take you out with me.’

Adam finally drove to town
In the farm’s old battered ute,
He took a shirt that he’d newly pressed
And his only ******* up suit,
He knocked on Jessie’s apartment door
And a Goth had let him in,
The place was full of the hoi poloi
And he couldn’t hear a thing.

The thumping rhythm would drown him out
And it made him feel a fool,
His sister gave him a little pill,
Said, ‘take it bro, it’s cool!’
He shook his head and he dumped the pill
In a *** plant on a stand,
Said, ‘Jess, you’d better get out of here,
This crowd will see you ******!’

‘I’ve never heard anyone talk so slow,’
Said the Goth with the purple hair,
‘Your bro’s a little bit slow as well,
Are they all like that, out there?’
One night was all that it took, and Jess
Was pushing him out the door,
‘You’d better get back where you belong
Or I’ll die of shame,’ she swore.

It took all night in the battered ute
‘Til he reached the open plains,
Shook off the stench of corruption
In the first life giving rains,
The city lights in his mirror had
Receded to just a glow,
When the stars came out in a country night
That the city would never know.

And Jess, back there with her new-found friends
Was dizzy up on the heights,
They fed her chemicals, liquid dreams
And they tricked her into flight,
‘There has to be something more than this,’
The last thought that she’d got,
While Adam had smiled at the countryside
And said to himself, ‘There’s not!’

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Dec 2014
Our Parting Ways
‘We must have entered the Latter Days
For the Moon has broken in two,’
Said Paul Maresh in the month of May
Of Twenty Twenty-two,
‘I said they shouldn’t be mining it
And drilling through to its core,
For now the Russians claim half of it
And the States have gone to war.’

‘That nuclear bomb on Ohio left
A crater, big as a lake,
And I heard that Lake Ontario
Has flooded New York State,
The world is shifting allegiances
So we don’t know where we are,
Since the Internet has crashed and burned
With my friends, both near and far.’

He went to the old style UHF
That he kept in his father’s shed,
Checked that the aerials were up
And the generator fed,
For the power had gone for the second time
And they said, it won’t be back,
With the power station the target in
That first, but brief attack.

He switched on channel 11 then,
Hoping to hear her voice,
Through shifting, drifting frequencies
He sat there, calling Joyce,
But all he got was a wailing call
To prayer, from a Dervish man,
Sent out to all of the faithful from
Some place in Pakistan.

He checked through all of the channels that
They’d used, back there in the past,
But mostly got a cracklng sound
From the swirling, nuclear ash,
His sister Joyce, having flown on out
To the States in the month before,
He thought was missing in Florida,
In the first week of the war.

Then a voice came through on channel three
That was lost, and fraught with pain,
‘Is that the Paul Maresh I met
In June, on the Sydney train?’
His mind went back to the smiling girl
With the drawn out Texas drawl,
Who’d chatted, stolen his heart away
With her laughed, ‘Be seein’ Y’all!’

They’d kept in touch on the Internet
And she said she was coming back,
Preparing to give their love a fling
On some great Australian track.
But then the world had shuddered with
That first American bomb,
So now, as frequencies swirled, he said,
‘Where are you calling from?’

He thought that she said from ‘Boston’, though
A crackle had interfered,
Maybe the word was ‘Austin’ back
In Texas, that he’d heard,
But then her voice was carried away
In a trans-pacific hum,
And the last few words he heard, she said
‘I really love you, ***!’

Part of the Moon has crashed to earth
In the Gulf of Mexico,
With Texas drowned in a sea of mud
And the earth’s rotation slowed,
But Paul Maresh in the Aussie Bush
Is clamped to the UHF,
Looking for Joyce and Linda if
It takes him his final breath.

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Oct 2013
The Priest that said Repent!
‘The time has come,’ he heard them say
Outside his tiny cell,
‘Go in and get the beast to pray
To save his soul from Hell.’
The Priest then walked up to the bars
And stated his intent,
‘Will you confess at last, my son?
Will you, at last, repent?’

‘The only thing that I repent,’
The prisoner said at last,
While staring at the Priestly face
At length, through double glass,
‘Is how your justice operates,
Your Judge sits on his bench,
Determines guilt before the trial
And brooks no argument.’

‘You have been tried by twelve and true
Your jurors had their say,
Condemned you as a murderer
Before they walked away.’
‘They would have found me innocent
Had he not been precise,
And sent them back to change their view,
Not only once, but twice.’

‘The law’s the law,’ the Priest replied,
‘The verdict said it’s you,
You had your day in court, and now
You’ll have to pay your due.’
‘I’m innocent,’ the prisoner said,
‘I swear it before God!’
‘Take not his name in vain, my son,
It’s time to reck his rod.’

‘Your God is just an ornament
To keep us fools in check,
If he were real, he’d swoop on down
And break the Judge’s neck.
The only God is in my heart
And he knows everything,
He welcomes us, the innocent,
Hypocrisy is sin.’

‘You risk your soul,’ the priest replied,
‘So hold your tongue in check,
For soon it will be silenced as
The rope, it breaks your neck.’
‘How many Nuns have you despoiled,
How many children died,
How many now lie buried, spread
Across the countryside?’

‘You hide behind your surplice, and
Your cassock and your gown,
You say you represent him, but
In fact, you put him down.
You tie us up with ritual
And steal our Peter’s Pence,
Then hide your sins by making all
The laity repent.’

‘I’ve had enough,’ the Priest replied,
Then turned and stepped aside,
The gaolers tied his hands and feet
And shuffled him outside,
They dragged him to the gallows and
Put on the dreaded hood,
But still he called, ‘Repent yourself,
Oh Priest! You know you should!’

It barely took a minute for
The rope and then the drop,
And then just twenty seconds for
His beating heart to stop,
The Priest’s thin hands had trembled
As he walked out in the cold,
And prayed, not for the prisoner,
But for his own poor soul.

His sins lay heavy on him as
He walked up to the nave,
Then knelt before the altar asking
God, his soul to save,
But God was strangely silent
And the Priest had felt like dross,
The morning saw him hanging
From the altar’s Holy Cross.

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Jun 2014
Shooting Star
I followed her over the countryside,
I followed her near and far,
She said that she had to live her life
Alone, as a shooting star.
‘The world began when I came to be
Will be gone,’ she began to shout,
‘When I leave my trail, a silvery tail
And the Moon and the stars go out.’

‘But what about love,’ I called to her
As she shimmied by in the breeze,
Her eyes were fixed on the future as
I settled down on my knees.
‘I haven’t got time for love,’ she said
‘It fades, and swallows my life,
There’s more to living what I’ve been given
Than being somebody’s wife.’

‘The world out there is a lonely place
When you wander its wilds alone,
You’ll need somebody to hold your hand
In the dark, when you’re on your own.’
‘I don’t need someone to tie me down
I shall steer my course for me,
No man shall tug at my either hand
Or change my trajectory.’

‘My heart is full of my love for you,’
I said, but she didn’t care,
She laughed, and hurried away to find
What life had in store for her.
I caught a sight of her now and then
As she lived her life to the full,
With greedy lips at the brimming cup
As she drained the life from her soul.

The years were cruel as she partied on,
Her hair became iron grey,
Her skin was losing that youthful bloom
With the drugs that she took each day,
The money lenders were out in force
So she had to swallow her pride,
And sell herself when she had to pay,
But then she shrivelled inside.

She landed up on my doorstep only
Once, and I thought she’d fall,
She looked so ill that my heart went out
But my skin began to crawl,
‘So what became of the shooting star?’
I said - She began to pout,
Then tears welled up at her eyelids as
Her Moon and her stars went out.

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Aug 2013
The Storyline
I was sitting, deep in my study
Under a single desktop light,
Listening to the patter of rain
As I wrote, late in the night.
The other sound was the scrape of the nib
As it traced ink over the page,
A setting on out of the mood within
As I traced McMurtrey’s rage.

I often would write at night back then
For the house was dark and still,
With none of the interruptions that
The day would seek to fill,
So the world outside would fade from view
As the Moon came out to shine,
Then I could re-visit the world I knew
In the latest storyline.

Each tale I told from a birds-eye view
As I watched from my secret place,
A god’s perspective of what I knew
Of despair, or a saving grace,
My characters hung from puppet strings
That I dangled down from my pen,
And I teased and taunted with sufferings
In the way that I did, back then.

I never would share with the world outside
What happened within these walls,
Or open up to their prying eyes
My visions of haunted halls,
For that would take them into the light,
Out here where the world is real,
And men could see what a cruel pen
A storyteller reveals.

The night that I sat there, pondering
How to make McMurtrey fail,
He’d been obsessed with the girl Mei Ling
She was like his Holy Grail,
The storm outside was gathering
And the thunder brought more rain,
When after a lightning flash, I heard
A tap on the window pane.

It made me start, I must admit
My skin had begun to crawl,
I very slowly swivelled my chair
Around, aside to the wall,
I pulled the curtains apart just then
And I peered out into the night,
But the face that stared in back at me
Was stark in the pale moonlight.

I heard him say, vaguely, ‘Let me in!’
As the lightning flashed once more,
Despite myself, I got to my feet
Unlocking the outer door,
He strode on into the study, stood
In a stance, most threatening,
‘I’ve come in search of my lady love,
As you well would know - Mei Ling!’

The room had shimmered and shifted then
And it faded from my sight,
We stood in the Hall of Gordonstall
And I thought, ‘This isn’t right.’
The hall was hung with the tapestries
They’d brought from an old Crusade,
But nothing was real, I knew it then,
They were things that my pen had made.

‘Mei Ling’s betrothed to a Mandarin
And she wears his dragon ring,
The last I heard she was headed out
On her way back to Beijing.’
‘Then you’d better pull out your pen, old man,
Ensure that the lady stayed,
Or you’ll never get out of your mind again
While this storyline’s delayed.’

I wander the Hall of Gordonstall
And I see no way outside,
I hadn’t written the doorways in
And the walls are high and wide,
I need someone from the real world
To knock at my study door,
But I fear that I’ve lost myself inside,
As I pace the flagstone floor.

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Dec 2013
The Witches Hat
Out in the children’s playground
On the wasteland, near the flat,
There once was a shiny roundabout
They called ‘The Witches Hat’,
It hung from a greasy centre pole
And would spin, just like a top,
For once that we set it spinning
It would take an hour to stop.

They painted the Hat in black shellac
So it gleamed beneath the sun,
But stood like an evil entity, in the dark
When the day was done,
We never ventured abroad by night
For the land, we thought, was cursed,
With the Witches Hat a reminder of
Just what had stood there first.

Once it had been a Magic Wood
With Elves, and Grimms and Ghosts,
Witches covens and Goblins ovens
We heard about the most,
The land was cleared for a new estate
And they called the land a park,
But nights you heard the muffled shuffle
Of dancing, in the dark.

It was then that they set the Witches Hat
Up on a pole to spin,
One of us ran around with it
While others sat on the brim,
We always ran with it clockwise
Then stood back to count the spins,
For Mother Malloy had warned us
Never to turn it widdershins.

She said it would stop the earth, and that
The sun would go back down,
The Prince of Darkness lay in wait
For the Witches Hat, his crown,
We thought that she must be bonkers
And we laughed each time she frowned,
But never would spin the Witches Hat
Not once, the other way round.

But then on an Autumn afternoon
When the nights were coming in,
Mother said, ‘Take your brother out,
Go take him out for a spin.’
She wanted to clean the house, she said,
‘And you’re always in the way!’
So I took young Robin out with me,
He’d just turned four that day.

I put him up on the Witches Hat
And I spun, and spun him round,
But Robin was a querulous child
And he cried, to put him down.
So then in a ******-minded mood
And after a dozen spins,
I stopped the Hat and I turned it round,
And ran with it, widdershins.

It must have been almost dusk by then
For the sun dropped into the ground,
The Moon came up with a silver beam
And it lit the whole surround,
I ran as fast as I’d ever run
And the Hat spun like a top,
Robin sat on the opposite side
So I’d see him, once I’d stop.

I ran until I was out of breath
Then I stopped to watch it spin,
But no-one was on the Witches Hat
And I felt the fear begin,
I searched and scoured the land around
And I crawled beneath the Hat,
The little fellow had disappeared
So I ran back home to the flat.

I’ll always remember that awful day,
The day when the fates were cast,
I’d spun him into the future, or
I’d left him there in the past,
I shouldn’t have turned it widdershins
But now can’t bring him back,
At night it gleams in a pale moonbeam
That terrible Witches Hat!

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Jul 2013
The Crypt
I’d only been home for a week or two
And Jeanine was acting queer,
Each time she’d pass the mirror she’d stare
And I heard her say, ‘Oh dear!’
I’d been away for five long years
But she hadn’t changed a bit,
Each time I’d ask, she’d cover her ears:
‘I have to go to The Crypt!’

I thought that she meant the local club
Where they drank and danced all night,
‘Aren’t you a little too old for that,’
I’d say, and her face turned white.
‘You’re only as old as you feel,’ she snapped,
‘If only,’ was my reply,
‘Whether we like it or not, we age,
And then, we finally die.’

She put her hands to her ears, and shrieked,
‘Don’t ever say that to me!
You can die, but I’ll still go on,
I’ll be what I want to be.’
I stood quite shocked as she raved, she cried
And turned and ran from the room,
I didn’t know what to make of her,
So sat, half stunned in the gloom.

She’d always worried about her looks
Had made up her face for hours,
I’d said, ‘You’re really compulsive, Sis,’
She’d take innumerable showers.
I said, ‘You’re washing yourself away,
There’ll be no oil in your skin.’
‘But don’t you think that I’m beautiful,’
She’d say, with an evil grin.

She’d never married, but dated men
Who would compliment on her looks,
‘He said I’m like Cleopatra,’ or,
‘Like Helen of Troy in the books!’
‘Words are cheap,’ I would say to her
And she’d fly right into a rage,
‘You’re always trying to put me down!’
‘You’re like a bird in a cage!

Always fluffing your feathers up
To say, ‘Hey look at me!’
Don’t you care for the things in life
That are not complimentary?’
But she would shrug and ignore me then
She was vain beyond compare,
I didn’t know that she’d signed a pact
With the Devil, in her despair.

The weeks went by and her mood got worse,
She was nervous, I could see,
Her hands would tremble and she would curse
Applying her toiletry.
The wrinkles set in around her eyes
‘So much for that cream I bought!
I’ll have to go to The Crypt,’ she cried,
And burst in tears at the thought.

One day I spied her out in the street
Down by a ruined church,
She forced her way past the battened door
And disappeared with a lurch.
I waited hours, out there in the street
To see when she’d reappear,
Then realised she’d gone to the crypt
In the bowels of that church, in there.

She came out walking, as in a trance,
So beautiful, redefined,
I couldn’t believe the change in her,
I thought that I’d lost my mind.
The girl I saw was only a shell
Of the woman who once was whole,
Whoever she’d met in that evil crypt
Had walked away with her soul!

David Lewis Paget
1.2k · Aug 2014
The Storyteller
He sat in a small compartment by
The window, on a train,
The passengers huddled around him
Saying, ‘Tell that one again!’
He spoke in a low and measured voice
As they held their breath, to stare,
Watching his hands, as they described
Vague circles in the air.

There wasn’t a sound outside, except
The carriage, clickety-clack,
A sound that would tend to hypnotise
As the train sped down the track,
In every one of his listeners
Was a picture, in each mind,
That spoke to them of that better life
Which had been too hard to find.

And seagulls circled the skies above
As he primed their minds with ‘If…’
And led them all in a straggly line
To stand at the top of a cliff.
The sea was blue and the clouds were grey
And the rocks below sublime,
As they teetered there for a moment where
They stood, at the edge of time.

For then he’d show them a garden, with
The form of an only child,
Who seemed to be so familiar
That most of them there had smiled,
The scent of a pink wisteria
Had wafted the carriage air,
And then their tears rolled back the years
As they whispered, ‘I was there!’

He showed them a woman in mourning
With a cape, and a darkened veil,
Who knelt alone by a headstone,
Each listeners face was pale.
The bell of the church began to toll
As it sounded someone’s knell,
His face was the face of the gravedigger
As he held them in his spell.

The carriage was filled with waves of fear,
The carriage was filled with joy,
He’d tell of the death of a mountaineer,
Of a child with a much-loved toy,
Their tears they’d dry as the train came in
To the tale of a Scottish Kirk,
And one by one they would rise to leave
And head off the train, to work.

But the Storyteller would stay on board
And close the compartment door,
His restless hands were trembling still
As his eyes stared down at the floor.
The train heads into the future while
The past is deep in his well,
He sits and weeps in the corner for
The tales that he doesn’t tell.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Aug 2013
Jack Cornwell was a Boy, First Class
On the Chester’s forward gun,
There to relay the settings with
A pair of headphones on,
He’d turned sixteen just months before
Was trained for his chosen task,
And hoped for a life of adventure as
He sailed, before the mast.

The Chester sailed to join the Fleet
That had left from Scapa Flow,
The Grand Fleet with its battleships
Sailed under Jellicoe,
They’d intercepted the German codes
And knew that they’d put to sea,
Hoping to split the British Fleet
And gain a victory.

The Chester turned to meet the flash
Of gunfire, far away,
The light was poor before the dawn
And the mist was thick that day,
Three funnels of a German ship
Came gliding through the mist,
And the Chester turned to starboard
Ready to show the British fist.

But the German ship was not alone
And the shells began to rain,
From the following battle cruisers
Shattering decks, in blood and pain,
Jack Cornwell stood at his post while all
His gun crew lay there dead,
Ready to take his orders, though
The Chester turned, and fled.

The medics found him with shrapnel wounds
Steel splinters in his chest,
He wouldn’t desert his post, he was
As brave as all the rest,
The Chester sailed for Immingham
Disembarked the wounded crew,
Put Jack in Grimsby Hospital,
There was nothing they could do.

He died just two days afterwards
Before his mother came,
She’d hurried on up from London
Where she’d caught the fastest train,
They buried Jack in a communal grave
So many men had died,
Fighting for King and country
Steeped in duty, worth and pride.

His name was honoured from lip to lip
How he’d stood beside his gun,
Determined to fight the German ships
‘Til the Chester turned to run,
Such courage born of England
Where it was tempered at the forge,
Was so inspiring in one so young
Said the Navy, to King George.

‘For shame,’ then cried the ‘Daily Sketch’
When they heard of the communal grave,
‘Is this how we treat our heroes,
Jack deserves the nation’s praise!’
The coffin was shortly disinterred
And draped with the Union Jack,
Drawn on an open gun carriage
With the Navy at its back.

His name went down in the history books
As the boy who stuck to his post,
In the midst of dead and dying men
As they made their way to the coast,
King George conferred the highest award
That there was, for bravery,
Awarded him the Victoria Cross,
Jack Cornwell, Boy, V.C.

David Lewis Paget
They call it the Tall-Ship Pier, because
It hasn’t been used since then,
Its timbers rotted and barnacled,
And black since I don’t know when.
The storms it’s weathered have taken some,
You can’t reach it from the beach,
A hundred yards of its length have gone
The rest is stark at the breach.

But nobody goes there anymore
There’s not much left of the town,
Just a couple of old stone walls
The rest is tumbling down,
It sits forever beyond the Point
Where the sailing ships came in,
A crumbling wreck of years gone by
With a hint of forgotten sin.

The winter storms were a testing time,
The seas flooded over the pier,
The ships sat out in the bay, in line
Rode out, this time of the year,
Til when a black-hulled barquentine
Came in with a Dutch command,
The Captain, Herman van der Brouw
In charge of the ‘Amsterdam’.

They tied her up to the bollards, just
As a storm was coming in,
A woman stood on the quarter-deck
And the lines in her face were grim:
‘You said we’d head to Jakarta,
Not to this god-forsaken place!’
‘I told you, stay in your cabin,’
Was the reply, with little grace.

The Captain turned to the bosun,
‘Make her secure, but down below,
She’s not to come on the deck again
While still in the port, you know!’
The woman struggled, was taken down
But she flung a curse at his head,
‘Your time is limited, van der Brouw,
When Dirk finds out, you’re dead!’

The wind blew up and the storm came in
And the sea began to swell,
The sky was black and the ‘Amsterdam’
Would grind as it rose and fell,
It tore the bollard away from the pier
At the stern end of the barque,
Then slowly swung from the prow out wide
Side-on to the waves, an arc.

It kept on swinging around until
It crashed right into the pier,
Taking a section out with all
The cabins, back at the rear,
The wind was howling around the bow
As the barque sank low at the stern,
A voice screamed, ‘Get me the hell from here,
Or van der Brouw, you’ll burn!’

The crew were swept off the quarter deck
Were drowned right there to a man,
While van der Brouw had leapt to the pier,
The part that continued to stand,
The woman rose to the surface for
One moment more in the storm,
And screamed from the top of a breaking wave,
‘You’ll wish you’d never been born!’

They found him lashed to the planking
After a day or so of dread,
His eyes were staring, his face was white
He was just as surely dead,
But something curious came to pass
As they took his corpse ashore
The flesh on his hands was burned and black
With his fingers shaped like a claw.

And she, her body was swept on out
For she’s not been found ‘til now,
And all that’s left of the sailing ship
Is the figure, set on the prow,
A woman, carved as a figurehead
That creaks and groans in a storm,
And seems to mutter against the pier,
‘You’ll wish you’d never been born!’

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Nov 2016
The Strongman
I called her once, then I called again
And I called throughout the night,
There wasn’t a message from Olwen’s pen
Nor the answering ‘ching’ of delight,
I’d begged forever her not to go
But she must have gone and went,
Down to the Fair at Cinders Flo
And into the strongman’s tent.

We’d been together to see the Fair
When the sun was riding high,
And all the rides and the Ferris Wheel
Were reeling up in the sky,
We rolled a ball at the grinning clowns
And we won a Teddy Bear,
The hairy woman and legless man,
All of the freaks were there.

But then we got to the Strongman’s tent
And I saw her eyes go wide,
He picked her up with a single hand
And I’ll swear that Olwen sighed,
I found I couldn’t drag her away,
She paid for a second show,
And after stroking his biceps once
She waved for me to go.

I had to drag her away from there
Or she would have stayed all day,
‘What do you find so interesting?’
I finally had to say.
‘Isn’t he such a mighty man
And his muscles ripple so,
He makes me feel like I want to squeal
Like a Tarzan’s Jane, you know.’

I finally went to Cinders Flo
In the middle of the night,
Thinking the end of me and Olwen
Seemed to be in sight,
I got to his tent, and there she was,
A-stare, a look aghast,
For what she had woken up was slim,
She saw the truth at last.

For there hanging up within the tent
Was the Strongman’s muscle suit,
With every ripple and every bulge
And a chest that was hirsute,
But he sat up in his lonely bed
And was pale and thin and white,
With a certain wiry toughness, though
He could never cause delight.

I think that it cured my Olwen though
She’s never been so still,
She spends her mornings and afternoons
Hung over the window-sill,
I try to get her to walk with me
But she can’t, she says, she hates,
She’s staring down at the guy next door
As he’s working out, with weights.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Sep 2013
The Secret Women's Clique
Her skin was dark and her hair was black,
She walked with a Spanish sway,
‘She could be from South America,’
I would hear the neighbours say,
She’d taken the cottage in Ansley Court,
Put seagrass mat on the floor,
Then given them something to talk about
With the shingle she hung on the door.

‘A Course is starting on Wednesday week
For the women of Risdon Vale,
“The Secret Rites of the Shuar Revealed,”
(For ladies alone - No Male!)
The art of centuries, hidden ‘til now
Will be taught in a matter of weeks,
Be among the first to learn of these skills,
(At just sixty dollars, each!)’

Said one, ‘It’s probably just a scam,
For what could she have to show?’
‘This village is such a bore,’ said Pam,
‘I’d pay to see rushes grow!’
But curiosity killed the cat
They say, in that wise old saw,
And half the women of Risdon Vale
Turned up to the stranger’s door.

She took the women, one at a time
Examined each one alone,
Then chose just six to make up the course
And sent all the others home.
She’d weeded out all the gossipers,
And the ones that were loose of tongue,
Had sworn to secrecy those she chose
At an altar with candles on.

Not one of the chosen ones would speak,
Not one of them say a word,
They hung together in whispered cliques
And wouldn’t be overheard.
Their husbands too, were kept in the dark
When asked, they would heave a sigh,
Shrug their shoulders, and raise a brow
Though everyone wondered, ‘Why?’

Ted Wilkins wasn’t impressed by this
And took himself to the pub,
‘I don’t like secrets,’ he told his mates,
Then left to head for the scrub.
They said he’d gone with Emily Bates,
They’d been having it off for years,
‘Her cottage is suddenly empty too,’
Said the wags in ‘The Bullock’s Curse.’

There wasn’t a tear in the Wilkins home,
She seemed to be quite relieved,
‘I always thought that she must have known,’
So half of the Vale believed,
A woman alone is a tidy mark
For a man like Michael Stout,
They saw him creep to her house one night,
But no-one saw him come out.

The tongues were wagging in Risdon Vale
About ‘funny goings-on,’
‘The preacher hasn’t been seen at church
Since that spat with Lucy Chong,’
Then Red Redoubt who had beat his wife
Took off, when he knew the score,
For Gwen had bid him ‘good riddance’ when
He was heading on out the door.

The women met on a Wednesday night
And they burned a light ‘til dawn,
‘What do you think they do in there?’
Said the gossip, Betty Spawn,
She crept up close to the house one night
And peered at the light within,
So Pam came out and surprised her there,
Said, ‘Why don’t you come right in!’

The six week course was almost done
When the police came round one night,
Kicked the door of the cottage in,
Gave the girls a terrible fright.
‘We need to know what you’re doing here,
There are rumours, round about,’
But the woman from South America
In the dark, had slipped on out.

There were pots and pans and cooking things
And a smell of something stale,
‘We’ve been learning all these secret things
But we can’t tell you, you’re male!’
Then a cry came out from another room
From a lad in the local police,
He said, ‘There’s six new shrunken heads
Out here on the mantelpiece!’

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Jul 2013
Emily's Twenty-First
They’d crashed the party at midnight
Surely, a motley looking crew,
All of them dressed in the weirdest best
That the Monster Shop could do,
There was Beelzebub, and Astaroth
And the pale Witch of the North,
Ahead of the Prince of Darkness in
A goats-head mask, of course.

They didn’t look out of place, for all
The guests were dressed to ****,
One attired as a Fairy Queen
While others were dressed to chill,
Out of the mouth of Frankenstein
The blood poured in a stream,
And though it was only cochineal
It brought the odd party scream.

Most had thought it a great idea
(Except for her folks, who’d cursed),
They’d all dress up in the neighbourhood
For Emily’s twenty-first,
They’d even formed a committee so
They knew what they had to do,
And each would be wearing a different face
So there’d only be one, not two.

They studied the Ars Goetia
And scanned it for demon names,
The butcher had come as Malphas for
He only had brawn, not brains,
The newsagent was Vapula
And his errand boy was Baal,
While the postmaster was Sallos
And he came there, bearing mail.

They all were full of the grapes of wrath
As it chimed the midnight hour,
While Emily surged out like a goth
From the depths of her wardrobe bower,
The house, at 22 Rankine Street
In the ‘burb of Astral Downs,
Was built where an ancient charnel house
Had piled the bodies in mounds.

Her folks had put in a swimming pool
Where there’d been a village well,
Right on top of a demon school
In the seventh circle of hell,
The water began to heave and churn
As Beelzebub drew near,
And it cooked a few of the swimmers there
As their laughter turned to fear.

‘You thought that you could make fun of us,’
Said the Prince of Darkness then,
‘For that, we’re making you one of us,
You won’t bother us again!’
The ‘burb dropped into a bottomless pit
That glowed with the flames of hell,
‘A subterraneaun coal seam fire,’
Said the Fire Chief, Adam Schnell.

Emily’s parents came back home,
Sat in the car, and cried,
‘I told her that Goth stuff wasn’t good!’
‘Too late! Our Emily’s fried!’
They filled it in, there’s a parking lot
Where her parents had sat and cursed,
I’d like to bet, they’ll never forget
Their Emily’s Twenty-First!

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Jun 2015
The Stepfather
Since ever he came to live at our house
We’d never felt safe or sure,
So late at night we’d turn out the light
And block up the bedroom door,
We’d slide a heavy old chest in place
That he never could push right in,
We knew, with just one look at his face,
The man was riddled with sin.

Our mother, bless her, was long divorced,
Our father was gone for good,
He never called, and we were appalled
That he never came when he should.
‘Why do you need that man in the house,’
I said, ‘You have me and Drew.’
But she would smile, ‘Well, it’s been a while,
And there’s things that you can’t do.’

We didn’t know what she meant back then
For we were too young to know,
How a woman’s won, or she bears a son,
Where a man and a woman go.
We only knew he was far too nice
When he first came into our home,
His creepy fingers, they felt like ice
So we wished he’d leave us alone.

He’d wander about the house by night,
We’d hear him mounting the stair,
And feigning sleep, not let out a peep
When we heard him breathe out there.
He’d come to a halt by our bedroom door
And stand and listen, we thought,
The tears in my brother’s eyes would glisten
In fear that we’d be caught.

His frightful stare gave a mighty scare
When he fixed on Drew and I,
Our mother said it was really sad
That he had just one good eye.
His other eye, it was made of glass
He had lost that one in the war,
It never closed, so we both supposed
That he slept, but still he saw.

Our house lay at the top of a hill
And a milk cart stood outside,
Its great cartwheels were covered in steel
And to hold it, it was tied.
One day we loosened the holding chain
As he came out into the street,
And watched the cart as it rolled on down,
Knocking him off his feet.

A wheel rolled slowly over his head
As he gave a deathly sigh,
His brains on the road were grey and red
And the pressure popped his eye.
It lay and stared at the two of us,
Was accusing us then, and still,
The memory sits and stays with us
For we’d never meant to ****.

Our mother wailed, and our mother mourned
And she kept his one glass eye,
She propped it up on the mantelpiece
‘So he’s with us still,’ she’d sigh.
Drew would shudder and I would shake
As it followed us round the room,
We both grew up with a complex that
We’ll never get over soon.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Aug 2013
Sunday Best
‘We haven’t the money for bread, my love,
We haven’t the money for tea,
You’d best get dressed in your Sunday best
And go down to the docks for me.
There’s plenty of sailors round the town
Who have just come in from the sea,
They’ll spare five shillings a head, my love,
You only need two or three.’

So Rosalie went to the old wood chest,
To change, as she always did,
Slipped off her shabby old cotton dress
And shook, as she lifted the lid,
Her muslin dress was a shade of grey
That had come third hand from a sale,
Next to a whale-bone corset that
Laced up, made her face go pale.

They’d only been married the year before
When he’d sworn he would care for her,
But most of his money had gone on drink
And the Dollymops at the fair,
He never had kept enough for the rent
When the landlord came, to pay,
‘It’s time that we used what assets we have…’
He’d grinned, in that crooked way.

‘Make sure that you pull your bodice down,’
He said as he tightened her stays,
‘You need to be showing some cleavage, but
Make sure that the blighter pays!
Just leave your drawers on the bedroom floor
You’ll not be needing them there,
The quicker they’re in and out, my love,
The less that you’ll have to bare.’

They walked together along the street,
He to the Wayside Inn,
While she went on to the alleyways
That were always so dark and grim,
He’d wait for her ‘til she’d done the deed
Then she’d meet him back at the bar,
And hand whatever she’d earned out there
In the clutch of many a tar.

She’d steel herself and would go quite numb
At the thought of those clumsy hands,
The leering faces, the coarse remarks
For the rent, and a *** of jam.
The other women would glower at her
If she pitched too close to their stall,
Was pushed in alcoves and spread on bins
And stood, her back to the wall.

She would have left, but her folks were dead
So there wasn’t a place to go,
And he would have thrown her out in the street
If ever she’d whispered ‘No!’
London was full of the fallen ones
Who were shunned, as she would be,
For only a Madam would let her in
To be used, continually.

Her husband sat at the Wayside bar
‘Til it closed, and bundled him out,
With still no sign of his Rosalie
He was mad, and grim at the mouth.
He headed down to the alleyway
When he saw the bobbies there,
They were standing over a pile of rags
And a tangle of auburn hair.

‘You can’t come on, there’s a ****** done,’
Said the sergeant, raising his hand,
A croak came up from the pile of rags,
‘Oh dear, that’s my old man!’
She stirred and murmured before she died
Sunk deep in a bleak distress,
‘Oh John, I’m sorry, the sailor lied,
And the blood has ruined my dress!’

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Jun 2015
Tale of an Ancient Sin
There was always an odour of sin around
The nave of that ancient church,
I knew of it as a choirboy,
I didn’t have far to search,
The smell welled up in the vestry,
A sulphur and brimstone tang,
It leached on into our cassocks
When the bell for the matins rang.

The priest, he was old and doddering
And didn’t look ripe for sin,
Old Father Coates may have sowed his oats
With nobody looking in,
But sin was there for a century,
It wasn’t of recent time,
The stories told of a Father Golde
I heard from a friend of mine.

Back in the days when the church was strong
And it ruled the lives of all,
A Father Golde was the priest of old
And preached of the devil’s fall,
When women came to confess their sins
And spoke of their evil deeds,
The priest took them at the altar there
In sin, and down on their knees.

The Nuns attached to the convent were
Obedient to his whim,
And many a cold and frosty night
He would call a sister in,
Her place, he said, was to warm his bed
To deter his chills, and ague,
And many a child was born in dread
To the parish, since the plague.

But one day after confessional
He had ***** a Colonel’s wife,
Who came to him with her petty sin
And described what it was like,
The priest, inflamed by her words and deeds
Had her pressed by the vestry door,
And who could know what she had to show
But the flagstones on the floor.

A troop of soldiers had marched on in
To assuage the Colonel’s rage,
The moment the wife had gone back home
And told of the priest’s outrage,
They seized the priest and they ran him through
With a sword right to the hilt,
Then tied him onto the cross outside
Where a sign outlined his guilt.

And every year on the first of June
You can hear the feet outside,
Marching up to the old church door,
The day that the father died.
A sense of sin that is coming in
As the church doors swing apart,
And blood appears on the altar in
The shape of an evil heart.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Jan 2014
Saving Grace
I got the call at eleven o’clock,
‘They want you to dig a grave!’
It wasn’t such a terrible shock,
The message came by a knave.
A serving man from the House of Gull,
That mansion up on the hill,
Where Baron Downz kept his hunting hounds
And the beautiful Grace de Ville.

They often sent me a midnight call
To dig them a grave or two,
Whenever there was a duel fought,
For graves, well, that’s what I do!
I dig them deep in the dead of night
At the edge of the Forest Clare,
They pay me a hundred and fifty crowns
You wouldn’t know they were there.

For only I know the resting place
Of the Lords that fell by his sword,
Of every man that has tried his will
Each one that questioned his word.
The Baron’s known for his ****** mind
And revenge is his only skill,
He gets them drunk on his German wine
And then moves in for the ****.

He murdered the father of Grace de Ville
Then kept her there as his prize,
The night that he tried to have his will
She almost scratched out his eyes,
He keeps her bound by a silver chain
With a lock that tethers her wrist,
And swears she’ll only be free again
When her maidenhead is his.

The servants told me he paced the hall
With his patience growing thin,
He’d rage and roar when she locked the door
To prevent him getting in,
There was tumult up in the hall that night
So I knew that there may be blood,
I took my shovel and lantern out
And began to dig by the wood.

At three o’clock in the morning they
Arrived in the horse-drawn hearse,
Slid a coffin out of the back
And laid it down on the turf.
The Baron Downz rode his horse around
And peered in the empty grave,
‘A fitting place for the maidenhead
Milady’s so keen to save!’

I felt the chill running up my spine,
It raised the hairs on my neck,
Surely he couldn’t be so unkind,
But the coffin lay on the deck,
The Baron motioned them all away
And they left with the coal black hearse,
He watched me lower the coffin in
Then turned away with a curse.

‘Be sure to cover that coffin well,’
He snarled as he turned to go,
Tossed me a hundred and fifty crowns
Then ambled off, real slow.
I heard a thump in the coffin then
And my heart jumped into my throat,
A muffled whimper, down in the ground
And a scream on a rising note.

I knew my life would hang by a thread
If the Baron came back around,
But still I thought, I’d rather be dead
Than bury de Ville in the ground.
I clambered into that terrible grave
And prised off the coffin lid,
She gasped, and thanked the lord she was saved,
But then came a note of dread.

‘You play me false, you’ll pay with your life,’
The Baron stood looking down,
And then he began to unsheathe his sword,
The shovel was still in the ground,
I turned the shovel blade side up
And ****** it under his chin
We clambered out of that open grave
And swiftly tumbled him in.

I work for the Lady Grace de Ville
In her livery, red and gold,
I’ve not been asked for a single grave,
Nor ever will be, I’m told,
I take her out in the coach and four
To ride by the Forest Clare,
And run right over the Baron’s grave
Whenever we’re passing there.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Jan 2015
The Bed & the Wardrobe
I had an Indian Fakir come
To stay, from Uttar Pradesh,
I was doing a friend a favour,
I don’t, as a rule, have guests,
I couldn’t make out a single word
He said, and so my friend
Provided a written commentary
To guide me, in the end.

It seems he was naming my furniture
It’s something that they do,
In places that are incongruous
Like the depths of Kalamazoo,
And he wanted to give them English names
So he asked my friend’s advice,
In case I couldn’t pronounce them,
Well, at least the thought was nice.

My armchair became Albert
And my settee Gunga Din,
I suppose he thought it would be okay
As it was from Kipling.
The tallboy was called Gerald
And the wardrobe, simply Joe,
The polished table Cheryl
And the kitchen one was Flo.

I’m glad that he wrote them down because
I can’t remember names,
Just that the bed was Susan
And the kitchen sink was James,
Some of them were portentous like
Ignatius, for the desk,
While each of the kitchen chairs was given
A name that ends with -este.

Celeste, Impreste, Doneste and Geste
And then of course, Ingeste,
I couldn’t remember which was which,
My friend was not impressed.
We bade farewell to the Fakir
And the Wardrobe flapped its doors,
And rumbled out a ‘Goodbye my friend’
From between its mighty jaws.

Then voices rose in a chorus from
Each part of my tidy home,
The names had given them each a voice,
It was rowdier than Rome,
The voices were accusatory
Trying to lay some guilt,
And Susan said of the Wardrobe, Joe,
‘He’s looking up my quilt!’

‘How could I help it,’ Joe replied,
‘I’m at the foot of the bed,
You’re flashing me with your silken sheets,
It’s doing in my head!’
While Albert grumbled in voice so deep,
‘Do I have to be a chair?
Each time you plonk on my tender seat
I’m gasping out for air!’

Then the kitchen chairs were out of place
And James was choked with suds,
The carpet, name of Emily
Was sick of traipsing mud.
It seemed that the polished table top
Was scratched, and she was mad,
The desk disliked my keyboard so
To each, I answered ‘Sad!’

‘You’re going to have to get along
I won’t put up with this,
Until that Fakir came along
This house was perfect bliss.’
I did away with their English names,
Replaced them with Chinese,
But they couldn’t speak a word of it
So I brought them to their knees!

And peace returned to Grissom Place
Just as I thought it would,
I made it plain to Wardrobe Joe
‘You’re just a lump of wood.’
While Susan smooths her quilt right down
And tucks her sheets right in,
And James just blubs, he’s full of suds
As I nap on Gunga Din!

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Aug 2013
The Serpent in the Pool
When first we moved on into the house
They said that we wouldn’t last,
The locals told us nobody had
Of the many who’d left in the past.
We asked if the house was haunted, but
They said that it’s not, ‘It’s cool!’
The reason nobody stayed, they said,
Was the serpent that lived in the pool.

The ‘pool’ it seemed was the small lagoon
That was not so far from the house,
‘You’ll notice that there’s never a rat,
You’ll not see a single mouse!’
It seems the serpent came out at night
And fed on the rodents there,
‘You’d better keep all the windows shut,
And jam the doors with a chair.’

We settled in and we laughed at that,
‘They must believe I’m a fool!
I haven’t found anyone out there yet
Who has seen this thing in the pool.
It’s only a superstition, something
Handed down from the past,
They love to shiver and peddle gloom
In the hopes we’ll be aghast.’

We sauntered down and we took it in,
The water was calm and still,
And willows, myrtles and evergreens
Were set in this sweet idyll,
‘I think that I’m going to love it here,
It’s peaceful and quiet,’ said Cass,
I didn’t mention the snaking trail
That I’d noticed, deep in the grass.

She questioned me when I barred the doors,
And shut all the windows tight,
‘You’re not afraid of the serpent, Jack?’
She laughed, and I said ‘Not quite!
There’s gnats about in the midnight air
And I don’t want them in here.’
She laughed again, ‘That’s a good excuse,
I’m sure to believe you, dear!’

Cass would sleep like a log each night,
Would sleep ‘til the break of day,
But I would wake to the slightest scrape,
To a Hoot-Owl, hunting its prey.
I heard a sound on the patio
Like something slithering there,
A tapping sound on the window pane
And the movement of a chair.

It got to the point I couldn’t sleep,
I’d lie there, listening,
Awake to the slightest sound out there,
The barest rustling,
I’d keep a shovel beside the door
Get up, and sit in fright,
Holding my breath, and waiting for
Its visit, every night.

I opened the door one moonless night
And the monster slithered in,
A forked tongue flickering out in front
And cold eyes full of sin,
I slammed the shovel down on its neck
And the head just fell away,
While the rest just coiled through the open door
And the blood came out in a spray.

I must have got it all over me
So I should have washed my hands,
But somehow, some of the serpent’s blood
Got over the pots and pans,
I dumped the body out in the woods
Hid deep in the winter grass,
Then cooked a breakfast fit for a Queen
For the love of my lady, Cass.

I should have known about serpent’s blood
I should have been more than wise,
For Voodoo tells us that serpent’s blood
Will make you grow snakes inside,
So Cass came down with a fever then
And she moaned and cried, ‘Enough!’
She said, ‘There’s something a-move in there,
That’s slithering round my gut.’

I tended her for a week or more
Put a cold compress on her brow,
Trying to get her fever down,
I wouldn’t have done that now;
The seventh morning I checked on her
And she called out, ‘Don’t come in!’
I saw her there on the bedroom floor,
She’d slithered out of her skin.

I stepped aside as she tried to slide
On out through the open door,
She moved like a snake, covered in scales,
I watched her in shock, and awe,
She slithered down to the old lagoon
And disappeared in the reeds,
And that was the last I saw of Cass
I swear, and my heart, it bleeds.

They’ve got me locked in a prison cell
As they think I’ve done her in,
They went to look why she wasn’t there
But they only found her skin,
They think I’m some sort of monster
That I’m mad, or merely a fool,
I keep on saying they’ll find her,
She’s a serpent, down in the pool.

David Lewis Paget
He lay awake in his narrow bed
And opened his bedside drawer,
Then fumbled around until he’d found
The thing he was looking for,
A faded folder, covered in dust
It must have been there for years,
‘I want you to take this folder, son,
And give it to Mildred Pierce!’

His grandson blinked away a tear
And uttered a silent sigh,
Then dropped his gaze, he found it hard
To look in the old man’s eye,
He knew he wouldn’t be there for long
Though his steely brow was fierce,
He said, ‘Sure Gramps, I’ll pass it along
When I find your Mildred Pierce.’

‘You’ll find her back where I left her, when
The way of the world was wide,
Up on the banks of the Darling, she’ll
Be there on the Wentworth side,
She used to teach when the town was young
In a little timber school,
I should have stayed, but the girl had clung
And I guess I was just a fool.’

‘She looked so prim in her teacher dress
And her hair was up in a bun,
We used to walk by the river banks
When her teaching day was done,
Down in the shade of the eucalypts
I kissed her there one day,
With her hair let down on her shoulders
She said, ‘Please don’t go away.’’

‘I only stayed for the shearing, then
I followed the shearing tracks,
I had to keep on the move as long
As the wool grew on their backs,
We said goodbye at the junction where
The mighty rivers join,
I should have stayed for the love she gave
But my only love was coin.’

The old man, he was exhausted then,
Lay back, and then he sighed,
His grandson waited a moment, but
He saw that his gramps had died,
He took a look in the folder when
He settled in back at home,
And found a number of pages there
And each one was a poem.

One called ‘Sorry!’ and one called ‘Why?’
And one that he’d drowned in tears,
One that was just a stark lament
‘For the Love of Mildred Pierce’.
The boy had blushed at the poem meant
To eulogise her thighs,
While others sought for her tender lips
And the lovelight in her eyes.

He waited until the summer break
When the funeral was done,
Loaded the car and headed out
To where the rivers run,
He thought that she would be dead by this
It was just an exercise,
But when he had asked for Mildred Pierce
They had caught him by surprise.

‘She’s out on the banks of the Darling
You can’t miss her little shack,
She keeps herself to herself, prefers
To wander the outback.’
He stopped the car at her garden gate
And he called out by her door,
‘I’m looking for Mildred Pierce!’ Then heard
Her footsteps on the floor.

He half expected an ancient dame
With half a foot in the hearse,
But what he saw was a lovely girl
And still in her tender years,
‘They named me after my mother
Who was named for her mother too,
But Gran’s been gone for ever so long
So what did you want to do?’

They sat on her small verandah, and
He showed her the folder then,
‘My gramps wrote these for your grandmother,
Some time in the way back when.’
She slowly read through the pile of verse
And her eyes had filled with tears,
‘I’d heard all about this shearer from
My grandma, Mildred Pierce.’

‘He couldn’t have known they had a child,
My mother arrived in the spring,
And she was told who her father was
But they never heard a thing.
My Grannie died as a spinster, still
A teacher at the school.
How sad that he couldn’t reach her then
To say that his heart was full.’

They went to walk by the river where
Some fifty years before,
A teacher walked with a shearer for
A magic moment more,
They stopped, stood under the eucalypts
With them both reduced to tears,
And that was the moment he kissed her,
For the love of Mildred Pierce.

David Lewis Paget
1.1k · Sep 2013
The Press & Rickety Dan
The Press surrounded the boarding house
That was kept by Mary Toft,
Her sailor man was Rickety Dan
Who was hidden, up in the loft.
‘Come out, come out, wherever you are,’
Cried the head of the Press Gang crew,
We’ve got you a berth on the frigate ‘Perth’,
‘Don’t make us come looking for you!’

Mary stood by the door and blocked,
‘You’ll not be coming in here,
You can’t Impress in a private house,
The law of the land is clear.’
‘But this is a plain old ***** House
It’s the Navy’s right to come in,
You don’t say no to a guinea or so
From a sailor, looking for sin.’

‘I’ll have you know it’s a Boarding House
Not a ***** House, Oh dear!
You’d better go off for a pint of gin
And swill it around in your ear!
A Boarding House is a private house
And protected, under the law,
You’d better go looking somewhere else,
Like ‘The Angel’, down at the shore.’

‘We’re here to pick up Rickety Dan
We know that he’s here with you,
There’s no protection since Bony came
And the Navy’s short of a crew,
So stand aside, by the rising tide
He’ll be lost to you, Miss Toft,
For somewhere out by the channel ports
He’ll be clambering up, aloft.’

Dan had rickets when he was young
His legs were bowed like a bell,
He heard the door come clattering in
And he heard young Mary yell;
He seized his favourite capstan-bar
And he leapt right out of the loft,
Then laid about him from right to left
In defence of his Mary Toft.

The Press consisted of Isaac Raines
A farmer, plucked from the hay,
A weaver, minus the broken frames
The Luddites had taken away,
A shipwright, also a ropemaker
Who had joined to avoid the Press,
‘As long as you bring them in, my lads,
I’ll not let you go for less!’

Dan lashed out with the capstan-bar
And he laid the weaver low,
Sent the farmer to tend his fields
With only a single blow,
Chased the shipwright out of the door
Where the ropemaker had fled,
Knocked the Lieutenant down to the floor,
Then saw that he lay, stone dead!

‘I’m gone, I’m gone,’ said Rickety Dan,
‘I’d better head back to the sea,
It’s bad enough that I’ve killed the man
They’ll all be looking for me,
I’ll go and sign on an Indiaman
If I have to sign as a cook,
Once I’m safely away at sea
It’s the last place that they’ll look.’

She never saw Rickety Dan again
Though she’d wait at the turning tide,
Whenever an Indiaman came in
She would dress herself as a bride,
And even after they’d left this life
With Dan no longer aloft,
A bird perched up on the mizzen mast
Would look out for Mary Toft.

David Lewis Paget
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