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I’ve devoted my life to poetry
Whenever I’ve had the time,
Created whole towns and villages
And even the people rhyme.
There’s only supposed to be six plots
In the stories we have to tell,
And half of them aim for heaven, while
The rest of them end in hell.

But I’ve written fourteen hundred tales
And each of them has a plot,
With climaxes in the middle, and
A twist in the tail, or not.
There’s anger, love and revenge in there
Mixed in the poetic stew,
And some of the plots are quite threadbare,
But they’re all written for you.

My women are all quite beautiful,
My men are as hard as nails,
They constantly search for love, I find,
In all of my paper trails.
But most have an itch they have to scratch,
For some of them there’s regret,
They pay the cost when a lover’s lost
And it haunts their stories yet.

I often scribble in witches, ghouls,
And spirits that have no souls,
That hover around the edges, with
Their indeterminate goals.
I look to the distant future now
For tales you’ll never forget,
And trust to fate that it’s not too late
For a million stories yet.

David Lewis Paget
When the King rode off to the old Crusades
He was leaving his Queen behind,
Safe in the hands of his former aids
He was coy, but he wasn’t blind.
He kept her locked in a chastity belt
And hid the key in his gaol,
Then swore the Gaoler to guard it well
Though the gaoler went quite pale.

How could he give a ‘No’ to a Queen,
Or ‘No’ to her favourite Earl,
So he perspired when the King retired
And travelled half round the world.
The Queen was troubled, she said it chafed
And demanded he give her the key,
‘But no, My Lady, I wouldn’t dare,
It would mean the end for me.’

‘Do you think he’ll even remember your face
By the time that he gets back home?
I’ll have you gutted, and then replaced
While he’s still out there to roam.
I’ll ask the headsman to bring his axe,
The hangman to bring his rope,
And six fine horses to tear you apart
If you think there’s a spark of hope.’

‘Your pardon, Lady, I gave my oath
And am bound by the King’s decree,
He swore I’d burn in a barrel of tar
If ever I give up the key.’
‘Then I shall boil you in oil,’ she said,
‘And strip the skin from your bones,
I’ll feed your fat to the pigs,’ she said,
‘And take delight in your moans.’

He sought protection from higher up,
The Earl had noticed his plight,
And said, ‘I’ll send you my personal guard
If you lend me the key one night.
I’ll guard it well, and you’ll get it back
When the sun comes up at dawn,
Not a word of this shall pass my lips
As I stand, an Earl has sworn.’

The gaoler gibbered in fear and grief
He could see his head on a spike,
‘I can’t conspire with your lord’s desire
No matter how much I’d like.
The key is hid in a secret place
That is only known to the King,
He hid it where there would be no trace,
It’s only a tiny thing.’

The Earl then sent his guards to the gaol
And they tore the place apart,
While searching for the chastity key
To settle his troubled heart.
The Queen sat in her apartments, on
A cushion of fine brocade,
It helped to ease where the belt had teased,
And hid where the Earl had played.

The key they found, hid under a slab
At the base of the dungeon door,
And soon the lovers were lain together
The chastity belt on the floor.
The months went by in a lovers sigh
Til the King and his knights rode back,
Their shields and helmets worn and dented
In Saladin’s fierce attack.

The Queen’s trim figure was rather big
When the key was put to the belt,
It’s hard to know what a King would show,
And harder to know what he felt.
But he burnt the Earl in a barrel of tar
And the gaoler did what he said,
He lowered the Queen in a barrel of oil
Til it bubbled up over her head.

David Lewis Paget
‘What will you buy when Christmas comes
To show me your love, dear heart?
Will you fill my bower with fruit and flowers
To enjoy while we’re apart?
Will you buy the things that you promised me,
Like a bangle for my wrist,
Or a diamond, topaz, sapphire ring,
Or a giant amethyst?’

He stood, head down and he held her hand
As she lay so pale in the bed,
He didn’t tell her his job was lost
Or what his employer said.
There were charges he would have to face
That would fill her heart with gloom,
That by Christmas Day he would be away
And not be returning soon.

‘I’d rather give you the crescent Moon
As a coronet, dear Tess,
And pluck the stars from the Milky Way
As sequins for your dress,
Then call on the Charioteer, my dear
For your transport to the heights,
Where the gods will fall on their knees to bless
This glimpse of paradise.’

She smiled, then faded away to sleep
And dream of a ghostly tower,
Where her prince stood long at the battlements
At the height of a fateful hour,
An army lay in the fields about
In a siege for her, no less,
‘We’ve come for the Queen of Golders Green,
And we won’t leave without Tess!’

While he sat bowed in a lonely cell
And wept at his sense of loss,
He’d only needed another month
And the price would be worth the cost,
He’d not be there when she needed him
As she glided out through the door,
The Judge fixed him with a puzzled eye,
‘Just who was the coffin for?’

On Christmas Eve she awoke before
Her heart pit-pattered and stopped,
Her fading eyes had looked to the door
Along with her hopes, they dropped.
But in her hair was a crescent Moon
And stars were all over her dress,
While a Charioteer came into the room,
‘I’ve a chariot here, for Tess!’

David Lewis Paget
We moved on into this neighborhood
When we couldn’t afford the rent,
So my pessimistic Uncle Jim said,
‘Next step down’s a tent!’
The house is set in the meanest streets
And the locals here are rough,
They’d steal the pleats from your mother’s skirts
If they weren’t nailed down, that’s tough!

So we put a chain on the old front door
We put a lock on the back,
We nailed all the lower windows down
In case of a night attack,
We put ‘hedgehogs’ in the garden beds
So intruders would step on the nails,
And stay away from the window ledge
Like Peeping Tom in the tales.

‘It’s best we’re prepared,’ said Uncle Jim,
‘The locals are all on drugs,
They break into houses on a whim,
Thinking we’re all just mugs.’
He kept a cricket bat by the door
And a baseball bat in reserve,
‘If anyone comes in here at night,
By God, we’ll give ‘em a serve!’

I’d stand my watch on the upper floor
If anything moved in the street,
And write it down for my Uncle Jim
On a crumpled, beer stained sheet.
I’d note the time by my digital watch
That had cost five bucks in the Strand,
‘It’s better for you, my lad,’ said he,
You can’t tell the time with hands.’

We crept on out in the dark one night,
He said it was Christmas Eve,
And took a saw and a flashlight out
Looking for Christmas trees,
We stole a tree from a neighbour’s yard
He’d planted the year before,
‘He’ll never know,’ said my Uncle, low,
He’ll never get through our door.’

We dragged it back to our house, and left
An obvious trail of green,
I pointed it out to Uncle Jim,
‘What if that trail is seen?’
He shrugged, and put on his thinking cap,
‘I’ll say someone stole our tree,
They dragged it along our garden path,
It’s nothing to do with me!’

We stuck the tree in a bucket inside
Then dangled some paper chains,
And some ancient pieces of glitter, that
Were worse for the winter rains,
He found a little fat fairy, who
Looked like she was six months gone,
And stuck her up on the top of the tree
With a Goblin called ‘Bon Bon’.

Lying in bed that very night
Something moved on the roof,
One of the rats from the neighborhood
No doubt, on forty proof,
I went and I woke my Uncle Jim
And we clattered on down the stairs,
Just as a pair of big, black boots
Came ‘Crash’ on the hearth out there.

I rushed and I grabbed the cricket bat
My Uncle Jim had a shoe,
This geezer dressed in a funny hat
Popped down, and out of the flue,
His suit of red was covered in soot
And he started to dust it off,
When I whacked him one on his ******* boot
And he yelled, ‘Hey! That’s enough.’

But Uncle Jim had pummelled his waist
And belted him with the shoe,
I whacked him once on his fat behind,
What else was a boy to do?
Then Uncle Jim had grabbed at his beard
All wispy white, like floss,
Swung him twice all around the room
Then said, ‘It didn’t come off!’

We let him go, then we stood and stared
While he cursed and swore at last,
Then clambered back up the chimney piece
My Uncle said, ‘What a blast!
I don’t know what he was hoping to steal,
There’s nothing in this old house.’
But looking out in the yard, I said,
‘The garden is full of cows!’

They were funny cows with great big horns
Like I’d seen in countless books,
Tethered fast to a loaded sledge
Piled up with frozen chooks.
‘I think we’ve made a mistake,’ he said,
My poor old Uncle Jim,
And true, I’ve not seen the man in red
Since we almost did him in!

David Lewis Paget
The clattering wind came back again
In the cold, dark hours of the morn,
There must have been such a mighty wind
In the hour that I was born.
For I went outside to savour it,
I love the wind in the trees,
Anything from a sultry blow
To an ice cold winter breeze.

And Miriam always chided me
I should keep the door pulled to,
‘You may delight in the wind at night
I don’t share in that with you.’
‘Doesn’t it tell you the earth’s alive
When it’s breathing, Oh so hard?’
‘That may be so, but just keep the blow
Trapped in our own backyard.’

It rattles around the chimney pots,
It lifts the tin on the roof,
And drives the rain to the window pane
As if to say, ‘Here’s proof!’
Proof that the world’s alive and well
When it howls and plucks at the eaves,
And swaying each branch so you can tell
By filling the air with leaves.

‘I don’t see the purpose that it serves,’
Miriam used to shout,
The wind replied and she almost died
When it blew the hearth fire out.
Hurtling down the chimney flue
Like a gale she’d made inside,
I said, ‘Just watch what you say and do,
Even the wind has pride!’

I’d say that the two were enemies
From the time she opened her mouth,
‘It’s wrecking my pink anemones
When it blows from the freezing south.’
I told her to hold her anger in,
She was weak, the wind was strong,
She hadn’t the power to save her bower
While it knew not right from wrong.

It came to a head when she slammed the door
On an innocent springtime breeze,
And sealed her fate when she muttered hate,
She was brought down to her knees.
Walking along the clifftop path
As she did, and both of us must,
A sudden blow sent her over, though
It was merely a random gust.

I go each week to the cemetery
And I leave anemones,
While lurking around the headstones there
Is her ancient enemy,
If only she’d kept her tongue in check
She would still be here with me,
Not lying beneath a howling gale
In the local cemetery.

David Lewis Paget
Down in the lower farmer’s field
Was an old style gypsy camp,
The wagons drawn in a circle,
Each one lit with a paraffin lamp,
And there in the centre of them all
A bonfire burned all night,
The flames would leap and the shadows creep
In a sort of mystic flight.

I’d watch from a grove of elder trees
As the gypsies sang and danced,
The girls would swirl their skirts to tease
As they whirled around and pranced,
Their arms were covered with bangles and
Their fingers, bright with rings,
Would flash at night in the firelight
As the shadows gave them wings.

Most of the girls were young, but there
Was a single one, my age,
Who danced with grace in an open space
She was on a separate page,
Her hair was black as a raven, and
Her lips the colour of blood,
My heart was stilled, it was almost chilled
By the view, from where I stood.

Her eyes were dark, they were almost black
Her hue the colour of sand,
I thought that it might be natural
Or perhaps her skin was tanned,
But as if she read my thoughts one day
She had twirled her dress up high,
And that same bright golden colour rose,
Ran up each fabulous thigh.

Then I saw her at the village fair
In the Fortune Teller’s booth,
I paid my money to go in there
And I found her name was Ruth,
She gazed deep into her crystal ball
And I saw her start to flush,
I said, ‘and what can you see in there,’
When the flush became a blush.

‘I’ve never seen such a thing before,’
She said, her eyes cast low,
‘I cannot tell you your fortune now,
So sir, you will have to go.’
She rose and pushed me out of the tent
But I gazed into her eyes,
And saw the future of my intent
In her look of blank surprise.

I went again and she read the cards
Wouldn’t touch the crystal ball,
She said, ‘there’s something very strange
In the way the cards will fall.’
I blurted out that I loved her hair
That I’d watched her from afar,
She smiled and said, I would turn her head,
‘I had wondered who you are.’

Then we stood together in that booth
And I stole a single kiss,
She fell into my arms, and cried,
‘I could not imagine this.
But the crystal ball, it never lies
And the cards have joined us too,’
She gave me one of her gypsy sighs,
Said, ‘What are we going to do?’

David Lewis Paget
I didn’t think I’d be affected,
I thought I could just be aware,
When she left me for another man
I thought I could sit and stare,
Could sit and stare as he held her hand
Could stare as he touched her knee,
And not be moved when another man
Roamed over my territory.

We’d been together forever
But things had fallen apart,
There’d been a change in the weather
A canker, aimed at the heart,
The words we said became twisted,
We fired our arrows of pain,
And all our wrongs became listed
Our pleas were met with disdain.

I slept alone in the parlour,
She slept alone in the bed,
And life itself became harder
Despite that little was said,
She started seeing her friends alone
While I got on with my life,
A lonely desert became our home
No place for husband or wife.

And that was when she had met him,
The man who would take my place,
She laughed with him as she’d laughed with me
Back when, in my memory’s trace,
The pain would hit as I’d sit and stare
When she balanced, and sat on his knee,
While running her fingers through his hair,
She never did that with me!

She’d never done that, or a dozen things
That she suddenly started to do,
But like a bird that had found its wings
She suddenly woke, and flew,
That’s when I woke to the simple truth
That she’d never been right with me,
I walked away from the pain that day
And said, ‘I’m setting you free!’

David Lewis Paget
They have me chained in this noisome cell
With its smells, its moans and shrieks,
No wonder they call it Bedlam for
I haven’t slept in weeks,
They brought me here from the Bridewell,
For they said I was raving mad,
I swapped a cell for a place in hell
And the food in here is bad.

We’re chained and beaten by loutish guards
And starved and purged as well,
Unless we ***** and take the cure
They bleed us in the cell,
I see the others who beat their heads
On posts, and the old stone wall,
Hoping to join the peaceful dead
When they have no blood at all.

The rats will nibble at hands and feet
If we sleep too deep, and soon
You’ll hear the patter as hundreds scatter
About the cell in the gloom,
There are chains and shackles around my neck
My waist and my ankles too,
The only part is my beating heart
Where they can’t chain me from you.

I live with the shrieks and moans and groans
Of the most demented souls,
The prostitutes in their open cells
Who squat on the sewer holes,
A guard says he will take care of you
And I know just what he means,
Be true my love, he’ll take hold of you
And I know the man’s unclean.

I should have minded my temper when
I was walking in the yard,
Was cursed by the devil’s tempter, then
I hit the Bridewell guard,
I hang on tight to my sanity
For I never scream or shout,
And hope for the governor’s lenity
That they come and let me out.

The visitors come and they poke their fun
At the lunatics in here,
They hold their noses and spit at us
And they make their feelings clear,
We’re only **** in the world they’re from
If the fools could only see,
That our putrid state could be their fate
In seventeen sixty-three!

David Lewis Paget
He came on home to an empty house
In the early morning chill,
The one he’d left when his blood was up
And he’d bent her to his will.
Harsh words had passed at the very last
When he stormed on out the door,
But now the silence seemed so vast
That his heart dropped to the floor.

There wasn’t a light in the passageway,
There wasn’t a light on the stair,
He crept on up to the bedroom
Only to find she wasn’t there.
Her clothes were gone from the cabinet,
Her shoes were not by the bed,
He sat hard down on the mattress
Next to the note she’d left, that said:

‘I knew that it had to come to this,
And you must have known it too,
This marriage has never brought us bliss
As marriages ought to do,
I tried to be a devoted wife
To support your dreams, and such,
But all it brought was despair and strife
And a life of nothing much.’

A tear rolled suddenly down his cheek
And he brushed it quickly away,
He didn’t want to be seen as weak
When he ventured out in the day,
Her words had cut to the very quick
For he knew she’d spoken the truth,
A wave of misery made him sick
As he softly cried, ‘Oh, Ruth!’

This wasn’t the way he’d planned his life,
This wasn’t the way at all,
He’d met her under the coloured lights
In the barn of a country ball,
The moment he’d looked into those eyes,
And smelt the scent of her hair,
He’d whirled her into another life,
One that she said she’d share.

But none of his dreams had come to pass,
His heart and his mind were spent,
He cursed himself in the looking glass
And struggled to pay the rent.
His heart grew bitter as time went on
And he took it out on her,
And she had wept as her husband slept,
It seemed to be so unfair.

He went downstairs to the bureau,
Raised the lid, and picked up a pen,
He wanted to write some final words
To the love that he had, back when:
‘Just know that I’ve always loved you, Ruth,
Though I’m bitter, and out of touch,
I know that I failed, and that’s the truth
In a life of nothing much.’

David Lewis Paget
These winter days have been cold and grey,
The sun is hidden above,
Much of my life is spent that way
Since I lost my only love,
For the clouds have entered my heart of hearts,
The cold has withered my smile,
Since ever the day she went away,
When I’d been out for a while.

I’d only been gone an hour or two,
Or so I thought at the time,
But when I returned, her clothes were gone,
She even took some of mine.
The house was empty and cold within
With cobwebs lining each room,
And dust had covered the furniture,
It smelt as rank as a tomb.

The phone had been disconnected, and
The power was off at the wall,
I had to fling open the windows
For any fresh air at all.
The weeds in the lawn were three feet high
Like a jungle, out in the yard,
The cat lay dead in the garden shed,
The tyres were flat on the car.

I called around to her mother’s place
To see where she might have been,
Her mother slammed the door in my face
And shouted something obscene.
I panicked then, and I went to see
Where she worked, at Kilroy Square,
But they had a new receptionist,
‘She hasn’t worked here for a year!’

I bought a paper and saw the date,
And at first it looked all right,
It said the 2nd of August, but
The year then gave me a fright.
It was one year on from the date I left
To walk on down by the lake,
I said to the man behind the stand:
‘That year must be a mistake!’

I’d lost a year, and I don’t know where,
The sweat stood out on my brow,
Where had I been in the in-between?
I don’t know, even now.
I went to wander, down by the lake
Where I’d wandered the year before,
And there was Jane, with a look of pain
On a bench by the lakeside shore.

At first, she’d not even look at me,
She wouldn’t answer my plea,
I said, ‘Thank God that I’ve found you, Jane,
Surely you know, it’s me!’
She said, ‘I’ve nothing to say to you,
But maybe you’ll tell me, Why?
You said that you’d not be gone for long,
You’d not even said Goodbye!’

‘I only went for an hour,’ I said,
‘An hour, or maybe two,
I didn’t roam, but I came straight home
And went out looking for you!
I couldn’t believe a year had gone,
I must have been going mad!’
She turned, with a scornful look at me,
‘As it all turned out, I’m glad.’

She showed me the tiny diamond ring
She wore on her wedding hand,
‘I’ve been engaged for a month, to Gage,
I think he’s a better man.’
These winter days have been cold and grey,
The sun is hidden above,
Much of my life is spent that way
Since I lost my only love!

David Lewis Paget
My father lies in an orchard,
My mother lies at his side,
But once, a million years ago
He made that girl his bride.
And love was all that they knew back then
In that world of endless time,
They conjured me in a magic glen
And they shared their lives with mine.

But life is merely a dripping tap
With a leak that can’t be sealed,
And much as we’d like to take it back
Once lived, it can’t be healed.
It drips away through our laughter,
It drips away through our pain,
It slips away on our sunny days
And fills our gutters with rain.

We’ve seen where that grand horizon lies,
So far away for the young,
And seek to fill it with needs, and deeds
That never will be undone.
But while we’re chasing our dreams and schemes
Ignoring what we were told,
That life is merely a race to run
The people we love grow old.

And one by one they depart from us
Like a breath of wind in the trees,
With nothing to mark their passing now
But a stone in the cemetery.
The end of time comes to all of us
When that tap will cease its drip,
That dreaded death that will take your breath,
Your mind, and the rest of it.

And people say it’s a void that takes
Our memories, one by one,
My folk live on, though a long time gone
In the mind of this orphan son.
I sometimes sit, and I think of it
On the grey of their granite stone,
And weep for the years they’ve been asleep,
I’m a long, long way from home!

David Lewis Paget
‘I’d swear that the sun is hotter,’ she said,
‘It’s hotter than I can recall,
The garden’s turned into a desert, is dead
My plants are fried up to the wall.’
I said I agreed, the car was so hot
I often got scorched by the steel,
The belt with the buckle was always red hot
And so was the steering wheel.

I said you could tell by the state of the road
Could tell by the bitumen melt,
The surface was shiny with liquefied tar
The heat off the surface you felt.
Beyond was the countryside, brown and bereft
Not a single green shoot could you see,
The bushes were brown from the top to the ground
And there wasn’t a leaf on a tree.

‘The place is like tinder, it just needs a spark
And it all will go up with a roar,’
We couldn’t survive in the smoke from the park,
We would have to be gone, well before.
I told Desdemona to pack us a case,
Just those things we would need on the run,
Some food and some water, a doll for our daughter,
Remember to pack us a gun.

We took it in turns to keep watch through the night,
To listen to every slight breeze,
The heat was intense, we looked over the fence
For any strange light through the trees,
It came from the valley, that terrible roar
So we knew that the demon was out,
Some one lit a spark way down in the park
And Des raised the house with a shout.

The three of us piled in the four wheel drive
And headed up over the hill,
The terror of flames in the rear view mirror
Have plagued and have haunted me still.
The wind had been gusting and fanning the flames
Pursuing us on our retreat,
Had crept up beside us and threatened to ride
Ahead to our certain defeat.

The heat so intense it had cracked the screen
And blistered the paint on the door,
When Desdemona let out a scream
To point to the gun on the floor.
‘Is this why you asked me to pack the gun,
Is it either that, or burn?’
I’d not meet her eyes with a tissue of lies
So I masked my own concern.

I heard her pray as the tyres caught fire
And exploded, one by one,
I kept the pedal flat to the floor,
It was either that, or the gun.
Then out of the darkness loomed a lake,
It was water up to the doors,
We came to rest where the water blessed
With the fire held back by the shores.

The skies were grey and they opened up
With God’s good grace at the dawn,
I held my wife and my daughter close
As the rain made us feel reborn,
When the people tell me there is no God
I just smile, and I let them go,
If he isn’t there then I find it odd
That he sent the rain…  I know!

David Lewis Paget
You only can die but once, they say,
There isn’t a second time,
We carry fears all along the years
When we think, which day is mine?
We envisage that marble headstone
That’s indicative of our fate,
Standing ***** in some unknown field,
And wonder about the date.

How often we hear that someone said
While trying to be more than brave,
But shuddering at the thought of the dead,
‘Someone just walked on my grave.’
It creeps on up, the length of your spine
The shiver that never ends,
Bringing a list of your sins to mind
With no time to make amends.

You think of that open casket,
And lying there sightlessly,
So all can stare, and look at you there,
‘I’m glad that it isn’t me.’
We wonder if we will hear them sigh
About all the good we did,
Or even know, if terror will grow
The moment they close the lid.

I think about Averill Crombie
Who said that she knew the date,
And suddenly died as she sat wide-eyed
Poking the fire in the grate.
We all went along to the service,
To say our goodbyes, as we should,
But then our hair, stood up in the air,
On hearing three taps on the wood.

We scrambled to open the coffin,
To find her still breathing in there,
And then she began to start coughing,
******* in lungfuls of air.
She tried to climb out of the casket
With many a cuss and a curse,
But then must have blown a gasket,
So we carried her into the hearse.

You only can die but once, they say,
There isn’t a second time,
She knew the date, it was simply fate
But the first time blew her mind.
I still see them lower her into the ground
When she’d died, just twice, perhaps,
But I couldn’t swear, when leaving her there
That there weren’t three ghostly taps.

David Lewis Paget
I never knew where she got the bones
But she spread them out in the grate,
And said to me that the way they fell
Would tell her about my fate.
I’d gone to her for the Tarot Cards,
I’d been told that she was a wiz,
But didn’t know what a wizard was
Till I met this girl called Liz.

She wasn’t a witch, she said to me,
For witches were too mundane,
They only had spells and love potions
And most of them were insane.
But she could look into the future with
The bones of the been and gone,
They helped to focus her visions on
The land of the to and from.

She spoke in riddles and teased my mind
In a language I didn’t know,
I asked her what I was headed for,
She said I had far to go.
She told me about my love, Christine,
And the secret plans she bore,
She wasn’t, as I had thought, pristine,
But had men in tow, by the score.

I asked her about the wedding that
We’d planned for along the track,
She said, I’d never be happy then,
Better get married in black.
She scattered the bones for a second time
And they fell about in the grate,
‘If you go on with your plans,’ she said,
‘You’re in for a dismal fate.’

‘There’s blood,’ she said, ‘and a kitchen knife,
A terrible slashing and cries,
‘I don’t know when, but it’s after then,
And a crazy look in your eyes.
Then someone lies on the kitchen floor
In a horrible pool of blood,
And footprints there, and a tipped up chair
Where somebody walked in mud.’

The wedding went as we’d always planned,
I never gave it a thought,
And Christine put on my wedding band
She didn’t think she’d be caught.
A man came round to the house one day
To say that Christine was his,
I took good note of his muddy boots
And suddenly thought of Liz.

He came at me with a kitchen knife
And said that he’d set her free,
I’d thought the knife had been meant for her,
But no, it was meant for me.
I seized his arm and we struggled then
While Christine stood in the door,
I somehow managed to turn the knife
And he lay dead on the floor.

‘Why did you set him loose on me,’
I cried, ‘the son of a gun,
What was the vow you made to me
That I’d be the only one.’
But Christine cried, and she knelt by him,
Her lover, down on the floor,
‘I told him before he shouldn’t come,
But he said that he loved me more.’

I was acquitted for self-defence
When the case came up for court,
And later I found that Christine went
She wasn’t the loyal sort.
I went again to the Oracle
And I spilled the bones with Liz,
While she laid on me a gentle kiss
And said, ‘It’s what it is!’

David Lewis Paget
He was only a simple storyteller
But looked much like a clown,
He wore red, yellow and jingle bells
When coming to our town,
He’d sit outside by the wishing well
And gather up all the kids,
Who’d laugh, and clap their little hands
At everything he did.

The parents, they didn’t like him much,
Their eyes were filled with fear,
They thought, like the Pied Piper, all
Their kids might disappear.
He seemed to be so harmless, though
He won their trust, despite
The stories that he would whisper by
The wishing well each night.

He set up a little pay booth at
The well, and scrawled a sign,
‘I only charge but a dollar each
For the stories that are mine.’
But no-one left any money
At his tiny little hut,
So everyone woke one day to find
Their doors were nailed shut.

And then they found in their gardens
There were strange things in the ground,
All their veggies were growing square
That should be growing round,
He told a tale of ungrateful folk
Who proved to be so mean,
Their square was filling with artichokes,
Their lawns were blue, not green.

He asked, would nobody pay him
For his stories and his verse,
They said there wasn’t a way in hell,
But he could do his worst,
The beer was turned into water down
At all the local bars,
And when they went to go home, they found
They couldn’t start their cars.

They dragged him before a magistrate
Who said, ‘You’re quite a threat,’
He jingled his bells and said, ‘Oh well,
You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
The bench the magistrate sat upon
Was wood, cut down from trees,
And suddenly sprouted branches
Five feet high and thick with leaves.

They couldn’t admit what he had done,
He’d made them look like fools,
He had a rapport with nature and
He’d modified the rules,
‘I’ve only to tell a story, it
Becomes a new creation,
Anything that I want, I get
From my imagination.’

Everyone pays their dollar now
The streets are neat and clean,
The carrots aren’t growing upside down
And even the lawns are green,
But everyone’s still suspicious when
It comes to telling tales,
They still remember about their doors
And hide their hammers and nails.

David Lewis Paget
Winter was settling in at the hedges,
Whiting the meadows and hanging off ledges,
Crazing at windows and frosting the willow,
Creeping at ceilings and freezing my pillow,
Outside the woods were embraced in a tangle,
Snow falling steadily, stars were a-spangle.

I felt it time to be wandering steadily
Out where my footsteps had followed hers, readily,
Past where the pathway encircled the wishing well
Holding the pennies we’d tossed for a lovers spell,
She’d walked ahead with a bow in her auburn hair
One yellow ribbon, that’s how I remembered her.

She’d seemed uncertain and wanted to talk to me
I really didn’t, but she said to ‘walk with me’,
Down through the woods where the leaves lay in Autumn,
Yellow and golden, the grounds of Bell Norton,
Once was a convent and practiced religiously
Then we were deep in the woods by a poplar tree.

She turned and spoke of the thing I was fearing,
Took off her ring and the pearl in her earring,
‘I am in love with another,’ she said to me,
‘What of our love?’ then she said, ‘That is dead to me!’
‘You must allow me to love Justin Hanger,’
I felt cold rage and I lashed out in anger.

She fell pole-axed at the foot of a chestnut tree
Never a sign of the life that had once loved me,
Dragged her some distance and into the Folly,
Covered in creepers and mistletoe, holly,
Buried her under a floor that was rotten,
And left her in store so that she’d be forgotten.

Now it was months and I came back to see her
Deep in the winter, with weather so drear,
Opened the flimsy old door of the Folly,
Caught up in creepers and mistletoe, holly,
When from the floor came a sound like a groaning,
Under the boards was a weeping and moaning.

‘This can’t be true,’ as I came in and staggered,
Watched a hand rise through the floor, looking hagard,
Most of the flesh fell away from the bone,
Then the floor heaved and I heard the girl moan,
‘Where is my lover, the one that is true to me,’
‘You must be dead,’ I said, ‘all this is new to me.’

I took the axe that was stood in the corner
Raised it aloft as if I tried to warn her,
Then someone tackled and brought me to ground,
Muttering something, ‘At last she’s been found!’
And under the floor were her human remains,
No moaning or groaning, just my guilty pains.

David Lewis Paget
There were twenty women and fourteen men
From the wreck on that tiny spit,
Lost in that mighty ocean, just a
Mile was the most of it,
There were pigs galore from a previous crew
Who’d been wrecked some years before,
And plenty of veg, they fished from a ledge
Jutting out, and over the shore.

So in time the fourteen had paired them off
And it left, forlorn, the six,
There wasn’t a single partner left
For the girls to scratch their itch,
So they huddled up and began to plot
How to thin out the ranks of those
Who took up the men that were meant for them,
They started by shedding their clothes.

There were naked ******* that they thought would test
The men in the rival camp,
Would lure them off in the undergrowth
To lie where the earth was damp,
And it worked for some, though the men returned
To the partners they chose before,
‘The only way that they’re going to stay,’
Said the six, ‘is to go to war.’

Charmaine was found in a grove of trees
With her face, all covered in blood,
And Derek didn’t seem too displeased
He latched onto Maxine Flood,
But the thirteen said, her blood was red,
And they looked askance at the five,
‘We need to arm, and raise the alarm
If we’re going to stay alive.’

But a dozen died in the camp that night,
The soup had given them cramps,
Eleven woman had taken flight
And the one old man, called Gramps,
That left a surplus of thirteen men
And the women numbered seven,
‘There’s not enough to go round,’ they said,
But the women were in heaven.

The six bereft of the men were left
To mumble and scheme and plot,
‘We need to **** at least six of them,
Whether we want, or not!’
So late at night in the pale moonlight
There were shadows abroad in the trees,
And before the dawn, the six had gone,
Beaten down to their knees.

There were six and six, you would think it fixed,
In a year they’d be in hell,
For two of the girls lay down, were nixed
Gave birth, in a winter spell,
The men denied said they had their pride
And attacked their mates of yore.
But somehow managed to **** all three,
So now there were three and four.

‘We’ll keep the fourth in reserve,’ they said,
‘In case of a sudden death,’
But Maxine Flood was in no such mood
Though she sat, and she held her breath,
They made her fish and they made her cook
While she worked upon her wish,
And when just one of the men was gone
She fed them puffer fish.

‘Now there’s only you, and there’s only me,’
She called, when he wandered back,
Staggering into the camp, he said,
‘I’ve been in a shark attack!’
His arm was missing, he bled right out,
And died in front of her eyes,
While Maxine Flood had rolled in his blood
And cried to the empty skies.

David Lewis Paget
A panic would settle all over her face
Each night as she pulled the blinds,
‘The world outside is a scarier place
Whenever the day unwinds.
I’ve seen the changes that darkness brings
When the lights in the street go out,
There are screams and cries, and animal things,
Can you say what it’s all about?’

I said I couldn’t, it wasn’t the same
For me as it was for her,
‘The night is merely a lack of light
But nothing has changed out there.
The lamposts stand, they may not be lit
But they’re still upright in the dark,
And as for sounds, and animal things
These are merely dogs in the park.’

‘Dogs don’t howl, or bay at the moon,
They don’t have a Lion’s roar,
And what sits tearing, out in the gloom
Just out from our own front door?
A line of vultures sit on our fence,
Flapping their wings for prey,
While howls and grunts are making me tense
The moment the day’s away.’

‘I’ll take you out and I’ll prove you’re wrong,
There’s nothing to fear outside,
It may be dark but the world goes on
There’s just a turn in the tide.’
‘I wouldn’t dare, there’s a sickly moon
That beams on down from a height,
It has a sheen, and the sheen is green
Whenever I put out the light.’

‘And who is the man at night who roams
Out there on the cobblestones,
You said it’s the window cleaner man
But the window cleaner’s Jones.
And Jones is tucked in his tiny bed
By the time the clock strikes nine,
I know it’s true, for his wife has said,
And his wife’s a friend of mine.’

‘It’s only some ragged, passing *****
Or a gypsy, out for the air,
They park their vans on the common land
Where the village holds its fair.’
‘He jingles coins as he walks on by,
And hums, but it’s out of tune,
You’d see, if ever you part the blinds
Him walking under the moon.’

I’d had enough, and opened the door,
And took her out to the porch,
I felt so confident I was right
I didn’t carry a torch.
We walked a way out into the street
She shivered and gripped my arm,
I waved my hand in a calming sweep,
‘You see? No cause for alarm.’

The air was suddenly filled with bats,
And some were caught in her hair,
While round our feet, a scurry of rats
Brought screams to the street out there.
The vultures sat there flapping their wings,
And launched themselves from our fence,
A man was jingling coins, walked past
Then I knew why my wife was tense.

I dragged her back through the open door,
All bleeding and cut and hurt,
Pulled the bats from her tangled hair
And the ones attached to her skirt,
We never venture outside at night
Not after we pull the blinds,
But leave the world of the after dark
To the man who jingles the coins.

David Lewis Paget
She lived in a tiny cottage
On top of a sea-bound bluff,
Looked down on the cold blue waters
In fair weather, and in rough,
The smoke that curled from her chimney piece
Was snatched away by the wind
So couldn’t obscure the window where
She stood, and her eyes were pinned.

She saw the gaggle of soldiers
Rise up, and out of the marsh,
And remembered a past encounter,
Their treatment of her was harsh,
She snipped the lock on the window, then
She hurried to bar the door,
Raised the trap to the cellar, and
Slid down to the cellar floor.

She lay in hopes they would pass on by,
Would ignore her humble home,
Would think that there was a man nearby
Not a woman there, alone,
She knew of the fate of others who
Had invited the soldiers in,
For many a soldier’s bairn was born
The result of a soldier’s sin.

She heard them muttering round the house
And tapping the window pane,
Beating a tattoo on the door
Till she thought she’d go insane,
They’d seen the smoke from her chimney piece
And they called, ‘Hey you inside,
We need to shelter the night at least,
It’s wintry here outside.’

But still she lay on the cellar floor
As quiet as any mouse,
She wasn’t going to let them in
To her tiny little house,
She heard the crash as the timber gave
Away on her cottage door,
And heard the thump of their feet above
As they stomped across her floor.

She heard the sound of their puzzlement
When they found the cottage bare,
‘Somebody must have lit the fire,
But now, they’re just not there.’
She heard them smashing her crockery
And drinking beer from her ***,
She never had enough food to spare
But she knew they’d eat the lot.

Down below was a musket that
She’d kept well oiled and cleaned,
Along with a horn of powder that
She’d felt worthwhile redeemed,
She found the shot and she rammed it home
There was nothing left to chance,
The first to open that trapdoor would
Begin his final dance.

The night came on and they settled down,
Above, she could hear them snore,
She wondered whether they’d go away
When the sun came up, once more,
But then, sometime in the early hours
She heard the trapdoor creak,
And a pair of eyes were hypnotised
As they saw the musket speak.

There once was a tiny cottage
On top of a sea-bound bluff,
It’s now burnt out, just a shell without
A roof or a door, it’s rough,
While down in the cold blue waters
Lies a woman, drowned and dead,
And up on the bluff, a soldier’s grave,
Buried, without a head.

David Lewis Paget
They’d painted a cross on the door outside
To keep the devil at bay,
While Ann took care of the soul cakes that
She’d baked in a shallow tray,
The Jack O’ Lanterns sat in a row
On a shelf to await reprieve,
As darkness fell on the House of Hell
At the last All Hallows Eve.

They’d whisked the wandering spirits out
With a witches broom of straw,
And placed a basin of milk outside
So they wouldn’t come through the door.
The dead could re-visit their homes that night
At that one grim time of the year,
So they set the table, an extra place
Should the shade of a ghost appear.

Across the road was a cemetery
To which John would haste away,
And light a candle on every grave
To keep the dead at bay,
He placed a dozen on ‘Hammer Jack’
As the murderer was known,
Who’d hung in chains through a drought and rains
Til at last, his dust had flown.

But John had a muttered confession as
He lit up the candles there,
‘I didn’t mean you to hang, old man,
But I was beyond despair.
When somebody pointed the finger, I
Was only relieved to see,
That though I murdered my mother, still,
It wasn’t pointing at me!’

He staggered back to the house and stood
To watch his woman, Ann,
He’d often thought to confess, but then
It’s not that she’d understand.
He’d only done it for her, he thought,
His mother was grim and old,
And threatened that she would put him out,
And Ann, out there in the cold.

Jack, an itinerent labourer
From a cottage across the way,
Had liked his mother and visited her
When the deed was done that day,
There was blood on his fraying overalls
And blood on his front and back,
When he staggered out of the house, some say,
So they blamed him for the attack.

When John lit the Jack O’ Lanterns he
Then placed them out in the yard,
Hoping that they would fend them off,
The ghouls from the devil’s guard,
But just on the stroke of midnight
He grew pale at a distant howl,
From out in the moonlit cemetery,
Though Ann said, ‘It’s an owl!’

But then came the long and heavy tread
Of a pair of boots he knew,
Sounding on the verandah, while
The door had opened, too,
And standing there in the doorway
Was a dead man with a list,
A Jack O’ Lantern sat on his head,
And a hammer in his fist.

Ann was crouched in a corner when
The police arrived, first light,
She babbled about some ‘Hammer Jack’,
Was right off her head with fright.
And blood was spattered on every wall
From John, who lay where he fell,
While ‘Hammer Jack’ was back in his grave,
Was done with the House of Hell!

David Lewis Paget
My heart is empty, my head is full
Of all that transpired in the past,
My short term memory’s wrapped in wool
My long term leaves me aghast,
As age has dotted my copy book
It leaves me the time to think,
Of all the faces I knew back when
That I washed right down the sink.

My eyes are dry, but I often cry
Inside, when a thought will sting,
Did I do everything that I could
Not just the easiest thing?
All those good souls who were lost to me
For the lack of a helping hand,
I put a curse on my universe
For not taking a bolder stand.

I know that some were afraid of me,
My voice and my tone was gruff,
Could they even see the love inside
Or was it never enough?
I only knew what I felt within
I’m sad if it didn’t show,
But I lost my friends, my kith and kin
When they turned around to go.

Why couldn't I ever see it then
I was too wrapped up in life,
And everything seemed important then
Except to my lonely wife,
I loved each one, yes I really did
Though I must admit to four,
And each one left for a better life,
Went out the revolving door.

So I must confess to selfishness
In a life that I lived for me,
I could never see another’s needs
Or take part in their history,
I can see the distant horizon now
And it’s time to call a halt,
But before I meet that judgement seat
I admit, it’s all my fault.

David Lewis Paget
I came home to an empty house
To find that you were out,
That you’d be home much later, then
I hadn’t any doubt,
But the day stretched into evening
Without a sight of you,
And you didn’t even call me
Like you always used to do.

When you’d not returned by midnight
I was worried, and was stressed,
I’d thought to call the police, but didn’t
Know just what was best,
You might have been embarrassed if
I’d simply jumped the gun,
And you came home unharmed to say:
‘I went out, having fun.’

The day stretched into weeks and still
You never came back home,
Though everyone was looking, saying
‘Jen’s gone off to roam.’
I couldn’t quite believe it for
We’d never had a spat,
Some evil had befallen you,
I was so sure of that.

A year went by of heartache but
I hadn’t given up,
The house became so lonely when
I had to bite or sup,
To say I cried a river for
A year would understate,
That desolation feeling that
I’d lost my only mate.

And then down on the jetty of
A distant coastal town,
I thought I saw your figure, with
A man, and looking round,
I followed you and caught you
As you got into his car,
But you had simply stared at me,
‘I don’t know who you are.’

The man was quite aggressive, said
‘You’re talking to my girl.
You’d better not annoy us, I’ll
Reorganise your world,’
I cried, ‘Don’t you remember me?’
And called her name out, ‘Jen,’
She simply stood and stared at me
And said, ‘My name is Gwen.’

He dropped you at a hospital,
I’d followed in the rain,
And saw you go inside alone,
While all I felt was pain,
I waited till the man had left
And went in through the door,
Sought out the doctor tending you
Up on the second floor.

He said you had amnesia
Were picked up in the street,
That you had wandered aimlessly
He thought, about a week,
I told him how you’d left one day
And walked out of my life,
And that your name was Jenny, you
Were certainly my wife.

There wasn’t much that he could do,
I’d visit every day,
And talk about my life with you,
You’d stare in your dismay,
‘My life was just a blank,’ you said,
‘Before you came along,
But if I can’t remember you,
To love you would be wrong.’

I left you there and went back home
But gave you our address,
And hoped that you would call one day,
I couldn’t ask for less,
And when you did, your eyes lit up,
‘I do remember now,
I’d fallen out of love with you,
And had to leave somehow.’

David Lewis Paget
They moved right in to the house next door
To our great regret, and pain,
It sounded as if they’d gone to war
Or the two were quite insane,
We should have kept right away from them
But did the neighbourly bit,
Went over and introduced ourselves
And watched them hiss and spit.

They couldn’t seem to control themselves
Not even in front of us,
If Jill had spoken to me like that
I’d have pushed her under a bus.
And if I’d shown her the same contempt
That Ray had shown to Liz,
She’d fly at me with a kitchen knife
Because that’s the way it is.

We left them there and we went back home
But appalled, with eyebrows raised,
‘Thank god that we’re not like them,’ we said,
Our relationship we praised,
They never stopped, we could hear them both
As they each tore each apart,
‘Why do they stay together that way?
It’s not an affair of the heart.’

We found that we had to go to them
On a crisp, September night,
They asked us both to adjudicate
After a terrible fight,
So I sat down with Liz, and Jill
Sat listening to Ray,
And after we got back home again
We had different things to say.

‘That Ray is the monster of the two,’
I said, ‘for he’s always wrong,’
‘That Liz is a shrew, I’m telling you,’
Said Jill as she sang his song.
We couldn’t agree on anything,
We even began to fight,
We had to agree to disagree
As I slept on the couch that night.

Then Jill took to walking in the park
With Ray as the nights wore on,
While I sat with Liz, here, in the dark,
And hugged her, while they were gone,
But never a word amiss was said,
You wouldn’t believe it true,
‘For Ray is a perfect gentleman,’
Said Jill, ‘and nicer than you.’

‘Well, Liz would have been my heart’s desire,
If I’d only met her first,’
The terrible jibes were steel and fire,
It seemed that we both were cursed,
And then came the day Jill ran away,
With Ray, and I slept with Liz,
I said that I’d love her every day
For that is the way it is.

A year went by and I saw Jill cry
When we met at night in the dark,
And I was miserable too, I sighed,
To Jill in the midnight park,
‘What happened to our relationship,
We seem to have come off worse,’
‘They’re both as bad as each other, Jill,
Meeting them was a curse.’

But there was never a going back
To capture what we had lost,
We’d been the tools of a pair of fools
And now were paying the cost,
For Liz flings terrible barbs at me
While Ray tears Jill apart,
We pay the price, and it isn’t nice,
It’s not an affair of the heart.

David Lewis Paget
The trees were talking in foreign tongues,
The leaves had plenty to say,
As he stood deep in the golden grove
Watching the treetops sway.
A gentle breeze had caught at their breath
To carry their whispered tales,
From tree to tree in the woodland depth
While the Autumn winds prevailed.

And golden leaves lay thick at their feet
A magic carpet of death,
Fluttering down with their lives complete
At the time of their final breath.
But she lay still on a mound of leaves
And smiled at the man she loved,
While he looked up like a man who grieves
At the sway of the trees above.

‘Why is the Autumn fall so sad,
Could it be that they feel like us?
Their Summer went, and at last they’re spent
And fall from the trees like dross.’
‘They’ve had their season of love,’ she sighed,
‘While ours is still ahead,’
‘But even we,’ he had then replied,
‘Face the day when we’ll both be dead.’

He joined her down on the bed of leaves
And she kissed his lips and his brow,
‘I never think about death,’ she said,
‘But only the here and now.’
‘Don’t you listen to what’s been said,
Those fluttering leaves in the air,
They’re asking, what’s it like to be dead
In a tone of utter despair.’

‘How could you know just what they say,
They’re swaying trees in the breeze,
There isn’t a dictionary, per se,
That a man can follow with ease.’
‘Haven’t you heard the tender moan
They make, when the wind soughs through,
Their sadness echoes in every tone
And it kills me, looking at you.’

‘You have to stop, you’re frightening me,’
She said as she pulled away,
‘I thought that we came to make sweet love
On a beautful Autumn day.’
‘But what will we think when our skin is dry,
And wrinkled, so many years,
Maybe the love that we feel today
Will lie in a horse-drawn hearse.’

He looked again and he watched her age
So brittle, an Autumn leaf,
Dry and brown, he was looking down
While she stared with eyes of grief.
‘You’ve taken away our springtime, Joe,
And reached for the Autumn rain,
I only know that I have to go
And I’ll not come here again!’

David Lewis Paget
It’s an age since I last picked up this pen,
An age since I scrawled a word,
There once was a time when I’d write it down,
All that I’d seen, or heard,
And still it sits on each scrawling page
A life, that someone may read,
Cut short, when I put away the pen,
When the ink had begun to bleed.

Some things are just too awful to tell,
It’s better they be forgot,
To raise the seventh circle of hell
Is like a forget-me-not.
It shouldn’t be preserved on the page
Reminding of pain and loss,
For sadness, grief, sorrow and rage
Will ever be tempest tossed.

And Geraldine was a case in point
I’d thought that she loved me true,
She seemed to care, and she’d always swear,
‘I’ll never be leaving you.’
For years we seemed to live in a dream
We had what we thought we’d need,
That no-one else could come in-between,
And trust was our common creed.

But then she started staying out late
To work, she said, for the boss,
And I would wait, alone by the gate,
While feeling a sense of loss.
I knew that he was younger than me
Was wealthier then, by far,
And she’d recline, while reeking of wine
Then clamber up out of his car.

‘We only stopped for a drink,’ she’d say,
‘It isn’t a federal crime.’
‘You never go out for a drink with me,
So who are you, his, or mine?’
‘You make too much of a trivial thing,
I’m just keeping in with the boss.’
Then I would say, ‘well have it your way,
But everything comes with a cost.’

We slept that night, each facing away
On opposite sides of the bed,
With Geraldine, as stubborn as hell,
There wasn’t much more to be said.
And that was the start of the end for us,
I couldn’t believe our plight,
It just got worse, when she with a curse,
Just didn’t come home one night.

Some things are just too awful to tell,
It’s murky the deeper you wade,
And she brought home the circle of hell,
She said that he’d given her AIDS.
She cried a torrent and reached for me
But I shrank back, and away,
The years have fled, there’s grief in my head,
For Geraldine died yesterday.

David Lewis Paget
We never forget the ones we loved
If the feeling was strong and true,
No matter what happened, the push and shove
That separates me from you,
And those who came after, who took your place
Will never extinguish the spark,
That sits in the memory’s starkest place
After making new love in the dark.

For an old love’s more than a pretty face,
It’s more than a bunch of sighs,
It’s more than a fragile cobweb’s grace
That recalls the look in your eyes,
It sits together with faded youth
We recall on our darkest nights,
The pain, obsession, the laughter too
As the mirror of memory lights.

The further down we push it away
It comes when we least expect,
Bustling in from our salad days
With a feeling of sad neglect,
How did it stutter and how did it fail
Is the question that meets our eyes,
And then we remember the truth of it,
Our false and our feeble lies.

Whatever possessed us to stray back then
We made up the perfect two,
But you would get angry with me, my love,
And I would get angry with you,
So our footsteps strayed and we lost the way
To find our way home again,
I’d be with girls that I didn’t know
And you’d be with other men.

But we’re still back there in the years that fled
And we’ll be together again,
When people talk of the life we led
In that time of way back when,
There are certain times in my history
That I see as a strange purview,
When I was entranced by your mystery,
And you were just simply you.

David Lewis Paget
An angel fell to the earth one day
And lay with a broken wing,
I saw her lying out on the path
And thought I was seeing things.
‘Are you really what I think you are?’
I said, but I saw she cried,
So picked her gently up in my arms,
‘I’d better get you inside.’

Her tears were staining her pale white cheeks,
And weeds were caught in her hair,
The wing was twisted and limp, I saw,
And I couldn’t help but stare.
‘I think I must look a fright,’ she said,
And dabbed away at her tears,
‘I flew straight into a plane, and still,
The engines ring in my ears.’

I laid her down on the couch inside
Stood back, was taking her in,
‘I thought you couldn’t be seen by men,
You’ve set me to wondering!’
Her dress was white, but was stained with mud
From the place she’d lain, by the gate,
And on the wing was a trace of blood
While feathers fell in the grate.

‘We’d best get that in a splint,’ I said,
And busied myself a while,
Tearing a sheet into long white strips
And setting the kettle to boil.
‘I’d take you down to the hospital
But the shock would be hard to gauge,
They’d probably call in the military,
And lock you up in a cage.’

‘I only came to escort you in,’
She said, ‘and now all this fuss.
You should have been walking the street by now,
And due to be hit by a bus!
They’re going to be mad when I get back home,
I’ve botched the eternal clock,
And you’ll live on past the danger zone,
While I’ll end up in the dock.’

An icy shiver ran down my spine
Like someone walked on my grave,
‘You say I was going to die today,
But you were late, so I’m saved!’
‘If you can see me you’re still not safe
Beware of all things on wheels,
They’ll have to revise your life spell now
If a few more years appeals.’

‘I’ll take whatever you’ve got,’ I said,
‘I’m not quite ready to go,
There’s too many books I haven’t read,
And women to, well, you know!’
They must have made a decision then
For the wind blew through in a gust,
Instead of an angel, sitting, there
Was a cloud of Angel Dust.

David Lewis Paget
You said that you came from Angel Dust
When I saw you emerge from mist,
Your hair was covered with spangles, and
Gold bangles dangled each wrist,
Your bare feet trampled the Autumn leaves
Whose gold reflected on high,
The rest of you, like some ancient rust,
That’s when I knew you’d die.

And then I awoke and saw you there
Asleep in our giant bed,
All thoughts of a gold goddess were fairly
Skittering from my head,
Your breath, it was long and laboured, and
Your hair, it was falling out,
With tufts of it on the pillow there
The chemo had left no doubt.

And all the love that I had for you
Poured out of my aching heart,
At least I knew that you loved me too,
You’d said we would never part,
But nobody told this grim disease
That came to you in a flood,
To desecrate your perfection, then
To end with you coughing blood.

You begged to me that I end it, that
I put out the final light,
That thing I loved, that I rend it, that
You wouldn’t put up a fight,
I wept as I kissed you one last time
Held on till I stopped your breath,
And felt you fall from me, after all
Through the final stages of death.

And then in the early morning as
I stood distraught by the bed,
I thought that I saw you rise again
Though I knew you were surely dead,
And I thought that you came from Angel Dust
When you wandered into the mist,
For your hair was covered with spangles, and
Gold bangles dangled each wrist.

David Lewis Paget
‘We’re floating up with the Angels,’
Said the girl in the pale green dress,
She’d voiced the phrase in German
For the girl had hailed from Hesse,
‘I never have dreamt of a night like this,
We soar like the gods of old,’
Then they came and shut all the windows,
For the night was growing cold.

There wasn’t a shake or a shudder
From the platform in the sky,
The waters of the Atlantic streamed
Below, but they were dry,
A headwind slowed their progress
And a storm was coming on,
The flickers of distant lightning lit
The path that they flew along.

The following day, the coast appeared
But the rain set in the more,
Rather than land, the captain took them
Over the Jersey shore,
The weather was bad at Lakehurst, so
They whiled away the hours,
Floating up there above the clouds
And the steady springtime showers.

They finally dropped the mooring lines
As the crew stood by below,
When a sudden flash was seen up aft
And a roar began to grow,
The ship was lit like a candlestick
As the gas and the fabric scorched,
While a flame enveloped the girl in green
And lit her up like a torch.

The frame crashed down on the gondola
And all you could hear were cries,
It was almost as if the gods had screamed:
‘How dare you enter our skies?’
They say that St. Elmo’s Fire was seen
By the watchers, down on the ground,
But there wasn’t a trace of the girl in green
When the Hindenberg went down.

David Lewis Paget
I sit in the silence of my room
And stare at the stucco walls,
From morning glare to the evening gloom
The coming despair appals,
For I know that it’s sneaking up on me
That memory of your face,
So cold and still in the evening chill
And pale, once you’d run your race.

You always gave me a joyful wave
And said you’d be there for me,
But what you gave from a shallow grave
Was only more misery.
You couldn’t reach out to hold my hand
As you did in the days before,
When once a kiss was the source of bliss
But of kissing, there was no more.

Your skin was an alabaster white
Once your blood had ceased to flow,
Where was the warmth when I held you tight
On those nights, so long ago?
And where the spark that shone at your eyes
From the recess of your soul?
It leaves the eyes when a lover dies
And the touch of the skin is cold.

But now you form on the stucco wall
And wave, like you waved to me,
Before you ran from the narrow hall
And out by the willow tree,
A car came leaping into the room
As it did, and it knocked you down,
It’s then I cradled you in my arms
Like a man who’s about to drown.

I see these visions, day after day
When I stare too long at the wall,
I cry and weep, and I get no sleep
When I dream of your funeral,
I reach right into the plaster where
I think I can touch your face,
But only can feel the stone cold wall
Of another time and place.

David Lewis Paget
Walking among the Autumn leaves
On a cold and blustery day,
Between an avenue of trees
As the daylight passed away,
The shadows lengthened across my path
And my way was hit or miss,
As a sudden wind would seem to blend
My other world, with this.

A world where nothing would make much sense
I’d lost it all, I knew,
Where day was night when it should be bright
And it left me, looking for you,
A world of shadows and woods and streams
Where there’d been a town before,
And the sea crept in where it might have been
For a million years or more.

While creatures high in the treetops there
Reflected their blinking eyes,
From a sudden ray at the close of day,
Just as the Moon would rise,
It was such an alien place to be
It was grim, and chill, and old,
As I wandered by an ancient sea
In a dark place of the soul.

I remembered how you had said to me
On the last day that we’d met,
How I would rue the loss of you
In a wasteland of regret.
And I had laughed as I slammed the door
To return the way I came,
Not thinking that I would miss you too,
But the end result was pain.

While you remained in the hospital
And stared with your sunken eyes,
I couldn’t bear that I’d put you there
With my lack of care, and my lies.
The doctor said you were almost dead
With your heart split open wide,
It’s only now, and it must be said,
That it wasn’t you that died.

David Lewis Paget
The Lady Mary took to her bed
On the last of the mad March days,
She’d strained her constitution, she said
At that upstart, Shakespeare’s plays,
The ruffians at the Globe were known
To be often rotten with fleas,
‘I must have been bitten,’ Milady said
With her skirt drawn up to her knees.

The footman fastened a painted sign
‘No Visitors’ up at the door,
While one of the maids got down on her knees
And scrubbed at the parquet floor,
Milady took to her poster bed
By a window out to the square,
‘You’d best get down to the Fleet,’ she said,
‘Lord Orton is working there.’

The doctor came with his physic
Carried a nosegay close to his face,
The cane that he prodded Milady with
Would leave her with little grace,
‘The swellings down in Milady’s groin
Will have to be truly bled,
A mixture of clay and violets then
Applied to the sores,’ he said.

The mist swept in and the night came down
As the fever grew apace,
And dark black pustules grew and swarmed
At the Lady Mary’s face,
A shadow fell on the window pane
Of a man stood out in the square,
‘Who is that nightly visitant,
And what is he doing there?’

She couldn’t make out his features for
His hat was broad of brim,
Shading his face and hawk-like nose
Though he kept on looking in,
‘I have a terrible feeling that
I’ve seen that man before,
He’s come from the coffin-maker, and
He waits outside my door.’

She slipped off into unconsciousness
So the footman let him in,
To measure her with a piece of twine
From her head to below her shin,
They waited then for an hour or two
While the doctor had her bled,
She cried aloud at a fancied shroud
And she shrank from it, in dread.

Late on the second day she woke
Lord Orton at her side,
Holding a faded nosegay to
Protect him from his bride,
She heard the clatter of wheels pull up
Outside in the darkened court,
And cried, ‘My Lord, will you leave me now
That my time is running short?’

She lapsed back into a coma, but
She could feel the tremors start,
And something strange had begun to change
In the beating of her heart,
A rattle deep in her throat began
And resounded through her head,
Just as a voice, it seemed to her,
Called out, ‘Bring out your dead!’

David Lewis Paget
The life and the soul of the party
He was always cracking jokes,
Ever so hale and hearty
When he hung with other blokes.
We all thought he had a funny name,
Have you heard of Astrakanz?
Neither had we, but joked that he
Had an uncle, Cola Cans.

We didn’t know where he came from
He was mute when we asked him that,
Somebody said a planet which
Had been known as Astrakat,
All that he said was, ‘What of you,
Have you read Omar Khayyam?’
When we said no, he said, ‘I know
Exactly who I am.’

He came across as a mystery
But he made it sound like fun,
And though he often was wistful, he
Would carry an x-ray gun.
He said that he used it only
For looking for kidney stones,
And sometimes checking for aliens,
For aliens had no bones.

He seemed a favourite with our wives
Who said that he was well hung,
Then somebody said that he should be,
From a maple tree, or gum.
When he passed the cake at parties
He would say, ‘from Astrakanz,
This is the only cake you’ll get
Not touched by human hands.’

And then one night at a Barbecue
There had been a Moon eclipse,
When out of the sky from nowhere
Came a couple of alien ships.
He said, ‘Well fellas, I have to go
Now they’ve come for me, my fans,’
Then waving, as he clambered aboard,
‘All the best, from Astrakanz!’

David Lewis Paget
‘All that I do is eat and sleep,’
The surly monster said,
Chewing away on a piece of thigh
From the woman in his bed,
He sat in the tower of Castle Grymm
And surveyed the countryside,
And the pile of bones by the Castle walls
That he’d tossed, once they had died.

His hair was clean but his skin was green
As a tear squeezed from his eye,
Pondering what his bride might be
And who, and where, and why,
The villagers sent him virgins up
But they weren’t quite to his taste,
A single bite and they screamed in fright
So he ate the rest in haste.

His goblins scoured the countryside
For a girl with golden hair,
The myth had said she would be misled
And her steps would lead her there,
But every blonde in the neighborhood
Had fled, as if forewarned,
Leaving only the russet crop
Or the brunette’s that he scorned.

They printed a notice in the town
And pasted on every wall,
It said that Igor would never eat,
Not once, a blonde, at all.
It said that he wanted just one bride
A blonde, to stop his moans,
But everyone saw the Castle walls
And the heap of gnawed on bones.

He even offered a huge reward
For any who’d bring him in,
The golden girl to his Grymm old world
He would give them gold to spin,
So some with greed in their eyes set out
To trap a golden girl,
And drag her up to the Castle Grymm,
That girl was known as Pearl.

Somebody said they were on their way
So she painted on her skin,
What some old witch said would bewitch
Igor and the Brothers Grymm,
They dragged her up to the topmost tower
Where the monster kept his bed,
And chained her up in his inner bower
Till the monster could be fed.

His eyes had gleamed when he saw the sheen
Of her silken golden hair,
He reached on down beneath her gown
Where he felt her skin so fair,
She lay and shuddered within his bed
As he bent to take a lick,
Then screamed a note as he clutched his throat
And doubled up, was sick.

They say Igor let out a roar
Like the folks had never heard,
He’d only munched on his own before
Wouldn’t mutter a single word,
But now he jumped from the parapet
With his mouth and his throat on fire,
To land himself on the pile of bones
That would be his funeral pyre.

So here is the nub of the story,
If you’re looking for a bride,
Forget about the colour of hair
For they’re all the same inside,
And when you come to that bridal night
Just be careful who you pick,
Or give her a scrub in that wedding tub
Before you begin to lick.

David Lewis Paget
They say it’s been empty for quite some time,
But I’ve seen a flickering torch,
Late at night when the moon is bright
The light is red on the porch.
And shadows move by the hedgerows there
Like spectres that flit in the night,
The door will creak as the seekers seek,
While the blinds are pulled down tight.

And something creaks where the attic peaks
It could be a number of things,
A flutter of leaves, the wind in the eaves
Or the sound of some old bed springs.
The neighbours hide and they stay inside
When the Moon comes up on the rise,
They say no way can the children play,
It would be a blot on their eyes.

For Elspeth comes as the sun goes down
In a skirt as short as can be,
With fishnet tights in both blacks and whites,
They say she’s brewing the tea.
Perhaps they’re playing Canasta there
Or playing for poker chips,
They may be dancing the night away,
She sure has a dancer’s hips.

Whatever it is they do in there
I’ll have to go in to find,
The state of play that they do each day
At Numero sixty-nine.
I’ll stay nonplussed till I get it sussed,
I wonder what it could be?
It’s just my luck, if I go to look,
I’ll catch her brewing the tea.

David Lewis Paget
The three of us had been travelling
For weeks, and were getting tired,
We’d taken pictures of everything
And our visas had expired,
We got a room in a gloomy house
And we settled down to wait,
For Julie wanted to sleep a lot
While Francis stood at the gate.

For he was the moody, restless one,
And wanted to travel back,
I was just glad to settle down
And dump my heavy pack,
I took a seat at the window ledge
And I read a magazine,
While Julie said that the light was bad,
‘You’ll ruin your vision, Dean!’

It certainly was a gloomy room
And the walls were painted brown,
We’d had to look for the cheapest in
An ancient part of town,
The concierge was a Capuchin
With a tonsure and a cross,
I felt like I had to bow to him
As he passed the keys across.

The room had merely a single bulb
That would only work at night,
And then, it had such a feeble beam
You could hardly call it bright,
But when it lit we could see at last
On the further, darkest wall,
There hung a dusty old painting that
We hadn’t seen before.

It blended in with the wall behind
For the tones were shades of brown,
The face of an old Franciscan who
Was looking sadly down,
But in his eyes was a faint surprise
As of one with mystic deeps,
And Francis said that it turned his head,
‘Those eyes give me the creeps!’

We ate a couple of sandwiches
And we turned in for the night,
We didn’t think it was worth it but
We still turned out the light,
Then I awoke in the early hours
To the sound of cries and shrieks,
The volume gradually rising
As my skin began to creep.

A sudden flare lit the room in there
From the painting on the wall,
The crackling sound of flames devouring
The monk, I was appalled,
And through the flames I could see those eyes
As they bored into the room,
And then, the crackling disappeared
And the room was plunged in gloom.

There wasn’t a sign of damage to
The painting, or the wall,
But a whisp of sulphur and brimstone
Hung in the air, and overall,
While Francis huddled in terror with
His face as pale as sleet,
And Julie couldn’t stop sobbing then
From underneath her sheet.

We snatched our stuff in the morning
And I handed back the keys,
I said, ‘Just who is that picture of?’
The concierge looked pleased.
‘That’s just one of the Franciscans
Who rebelled against the Pope,
He went to the Inquisition then
And they gave him little hope.’

‘Four of the monks were burned out there
As a lesson to the rest,
St. Francis would have approved, they were
Schismatic, at the best,
This is the town the Inquisition
Righted many a wrong,
They burned the recusant catholics
In the square at Avignon.’

Francis had left before us, he
Refused to wait in there,
He wandered out with his backpack and
Stood waiting in the square,
Just as the petrol tanker rolled,
From a worn and faulty tyre,
And the last I saw, he was standing there
Engulfed in a lake of fire!

David Lewis Paget
There is something that feeds on the evil
It finds in the well of its mind,
To bolster the work of the devil
And other bad cess it might find,
It joys in the hurt it is causing
It revels in pain it may bring
To all who once loved and adored it,
For it never loved anything.

Revenge is the one thing that drives it,
A payback to feed discontent,
But it does it in dark and in hiding,
It’s sly and it doesn’t repent,
It tries to unwrap any secrets
That may have been hidden from view,
In diaries, letters and journals,
Or letters, specific to you.

It doesn’t know shame in its spying,
That others feel only disgust,
A soul that is black and repulsive
That’s headed for Hell, as it must,
It thinks its success is so clever
And laughs when revealing its scar,
But others laugh at you, not with you,
And evil, you know who you are!

David Lewis Paget
I’ve had a terrible day today
The horse had broken a shoe,
I had to get to the marketplace
And didn’t know what to do,
So I borrowed the neighbour’s horse and cart
Was stopped by the local cop,
He said that the stuff on the neighbour’s cart
Had been stolen, from a shop!

He wouldn’t believe it wasn’t mine
And locked me up in a cell,
I’m being done for the stolen goods
And the stolen cart as well.
It took them hours to bail me out
Then I had to walk back home,
Fifteen miles to the mountain top
And the tongue of a rabid crone.

‘Why do you always do these things,
Why is it always you?
The guy next door, he never gets caught
But he’s so much smarter - True!’
I didn’t think she’d ever give up,
My dinner was down the drain,
They say that marriage is so much bliss,
Then why is there so much pain?

The kids were screaming about the place
When they should have been in bed,
She said she couldn’t control them, but
At least the kids were fed.
I bit a crust that was far too old
And it almost broke my teeth,
Then saw the thing was covered in mould,
All that I want is Sleep!

‘All that I want is sleep,’ I said
As I staggered off to my room,
It seemed a conspiracy overhead
Was acting out in the gloom,
A crash, a clash on the tiles above
I thought it was drunken Joe,
He’s always fooling about at night,
Him and his ‘** ** **!’

The wife snuck into the bedroom then
And she said, ‘Don’t make a peep!
Or Father Christmas will hear you, Ben,
You ought to be sound asleep!’
My eyes bugged out and I leapt on up
Flung open the window wide,
‘And how do you think I’m supposed to sleep
With you ******* about outside!’

I heard the chomping of many teeth
And a very distinctive ‘Neigh!’
Stuck my head out so far that I
Could see this silver sleigh.
I yelled, ‘Hey get off my effing roof,
You’re damaging all my tiles!’
And then this guy in a bright red suit
Looked down, his face all smiles.

All he could say was ‘** ** **’,
He’d come from some funny farm,
I yelled, ‘Do you want a bunch of fives?’
He started to look alarmed.
I heard the rattle of antler horns
As he started to ride away,
I couldn’t believe my eyes to see
It was Santa’s Silver Sleigh!

They’ve stuck me out in the doghouse here,
I had to kick out the dog,
But found, at least, that his rug was fleece
I could sleep at last, like a log.
There’d better not be another day
Like this, as I said to Steve,
‘You’d think that someone would warn me when
It’s coming up Christmas Eve!’

David Lewis Paget
I’d known him since we were boys at school
So I let him in to the flat,
He wasn’t known for playing the fool,
I knew him better than that,
But he carried a canvas under his arm
And he propped it up on a chair,
And said I needed to help him out
Could I keep the picture there?

I stood well back and surveyed the paint
It was oil, laid on with a knife,
Of a naked woman, with auburn hair
He said it was somebody’s wife,
She lay at rest on a purple lounge
Had shaken her hair quite loose,
And all she wore on her wonderful form
Was a pair of ballet shoes.

‘Why do I need to keep it here?’ I said,
But I didn’t mind,
Something about the woman’s eyes
Said she was one of a kind.
‘Her husband visits me all the time
I wouldn’t want him to see,
He doesn’t know that she had it done
Or passed the picture to me.’

Marcus gave me a fleeting look
But still had the grace to blush,
I didn’t want to embarrass him
Put fingers to lips, said ‘Hush!’
He left, but said that she might pop in
She’d want to inspect the place,
To find it suitable, that her skin
Was hanging in naked grace.

It took a week till she showed her face,
Came hurrying in at the door,
Her head was covered in widow’s lace,
Announced herself as ‘Lenore’,
I doubted that was her real name
But took her through to my den,
The **** hung high on the picture wall,
She stood and she said, ‘Amen’.

And then she turned and she looked at me
And she smiled as if approved,
Something about that smile, her eyes,
And I felt strangely moved,
‘Would you care to see the original,’
She said, and began to strip,
I couldn’t mumble a word, my tongue
Was tied and set to trip.

She told me to look away until
Quite ready for my gaze,
I couldn’t imagine what she did
It seemed to take for days,
I heard her shake out her auburn hair
Until well and truly loose,
And when I looked, she was naked but
For a pair of ballet shoes.

David Lewis Paget
The Church Belfry at Catherine Cross
Was known for its ancient bells,
They’d peal on out before Sunday Mass
And wake the monks in their cells,
The bellringers were a hardy crew
And their timing was superb,
But Joe and John, they didn’t get on,
And nor did the Bellman, Herb.

For Herb worked up in the belfry, with
The bells that he thought were his,
He’d tend the stock and the clapper stays
So the clapper wouldn’t miss,
He’d set each rope to the ringer’s height
To a fraction of an inch,
And woe betide if a ringer died,
Or another called in sick.

He’d call on down to the bellringers,
‘Go easy on those ropes,
You wouldn’t want to be stretching them,
They’re after all, the Pope’s!’
But John would glare at his form up there
And call up, between spells,
‘Don’t interfere with our work down here,
It’s we who ring the bells!’

He’d do his best to unsettle Herb
Would leave him in the lurch,
Then try, by ringing the tenor bell
To knock him off his perch,
The bell weighed upwards of three long tons
Would leave John out of breath,
But over time with its endless chime
Herb was going deaf.

Then Herb would leap from the belfry stair
And knock John to the ground,
The bells would ring out of sequence then
And make a terrible sound,
And while they struggled and punched and swore
The villagers would smirk,
‘That’s Herb and John got a punch-up on,
That Herb is a piece of work!’

So John had gone to the Synod, asked
That the Bellman should be sacked,
‘There’s nothing he needs to do up there,
I’m sick of being attacked.’
And so the word was carried to Herb
That their need of him was done,
Gave him a week to collect his things
And then, he must be gone.

His final Mass at Catherine Cross
Herb clambered up in the tower,
He’d show them all in his hour of loss
He’d have John in his power,
He loosened the nut that held the bell
To the headstock, up above,
And as it rang with a mighty clang
He gave it a final shove.

Then John strode into the centre, cursing
Looking up at the bell,
But what he saw would forever haunt him
Like some scene from Hell,
The bell was hurtling down towards him
Herb astride the crown,
His eyes a-gleam with revenge, it seemed
As the mighty bell came down.

Herb is buried at Catherine Cross
Not far from the place he fell,
While John was trapped for three long days
Under the dome of the bell,
It took the arm of a crane to lift
And set John free from his pain,
But from then on it was ‘Crazy John’
For he clambered out insane!

David Lewis Paget
If life was a bed of roses, then
My neighbour would fit the bill,
He’d built him a twelve room mansion
Next to me, on top of the hill,
It made my cottage look down at heel
Til I grew a hawthorn hedge,
So nobody could look down on me
Though he did, from up on a ledge.

His name was Jeremy Harmon, and
His wife was Amanda Cale,
I’d played with him in the schoolyard, though
He’d won him a place at Yale,
He’d spent his life in America
Though he’d come back home to wed,
And stole the only woman I loved
From our own pre-bridal bed.

She’d fallen hard for his Ivy League
And his Yves St. Laurent suits,
His rented Aston Martin, and
His R.M. Williams boots.
He’d made a pile and he flaunted it
Before heading back to the States,
Taking Amanda Cale with him,
I got her note too late.

‘I’m sorry John, and I know it’s wrong
But he swept me off my feet,
We’re going to live in Chicago, where
He said that life’s a treat.
We’ll live in a condominium
And he promised me a maid,
Oh don’t be sad, for I’m rather glad,
Just think of the love we made.’

And that was the last I heard of them
For almost twenty years,
The name of Jeremy Harmon passed
My lips, as a sort of curse,
I just got on with my life, but brought
No woman to my bed,
My head was full of Amanda Cale
And her betrayal, instead.

They turned up totally unexpected,
Rang my front doorbell,
‘We’re going to be your neighbour, Hey!
It’s good to see you, pal.’
He seemed to be totally unaware
Of the grief he’d caused, back when,
I held my tongue and I kept my peace,
‘Okay, I’ll see you then.’

A year went by and the house went up
And I grew my hawthorn hedge,
Amanda worked in the garden planting
Seeds and lawn and sedge,
I did my best to avoid her, though
She tried to keep things light,
But chuckled things like, ‘Remember when…’
And I’d say, ‘That’s not right!’

‘You made your bed when you left with him,
There are no memories,
I saw you last in his Aston Martin
Waving through the trees.’
‘That was a mistake, I know,’ she said,
‘But things could turn out right,
He goes away on his business trips
And I’m all alone at night.’

I’m sure I said that it wasn’t on,
I’m sure I told her to go,
But she was given to plots and schemes
About things I didn’t know.
She asked me once for a bag of lime
To use on her roses bed,
And like a fool, I gave her the tool
To let her back in my bed.

Jeremy went on a business trip
And didn’t come home at all,
She said he’d gone to America,
Their marriage had gone to the wall.
She came to cry on my shoulder then
Each day, for almost a year,
And in the end, I had given in,
She seemed in a deep despair.

Her garden then was magnificent
For her roses were in bloom,
‘I’ve never seen such a great display,’
I said, one afternoon.
‘You can thank my husband, Jeremy,
He’s been working, all this time,
You’re tied to me for eternity
For you supplied the lime!’

David Lewis Paget
I was sat in a Tavern in Pompey Town,
Sipping a tipple of ***,
When I watched a Jack make an axe attack,
Chop off his finger and thumb!

I couldn’t believe the blood that flowed
From the cut of that rusty blade,
But the barmaid Flo, said ‘You’ve done it, Joe,
Now look at the mess you’ve made!’

She cleaned it up with a swill of ale,
Walked off with the finger and thumb,
‘I’ll nail these up on the balustrade
With the rest that have been as dumb.’

But Joe sang out when he’d had a drink
‘It’s better than being a tar!
I spent three years, under the lash
On His Majesty’s Man o’ War.’

‘They ‘pressed me when I was still a kid
And treated me like a dog,
I suffered scurvy and couldn’t work,
The answer to that, was flog.’

‘They flogged me around the Southern Cape,
They flogged me a-ship and ashore,
Whenever I thought that I might escape
They dragged me onboard for more.’

‘And Cap’n Foggett’s abroad tonight
With his cut-throat parcel of rogues,
Impressing the able-bodied men,
They’re lining them up in droves.’

‘For Nelson’s lying abaft the lee
With barely a half a crew,
He needs more men for the ‘Victory’,
And that means me and you!’

‘In every tavern they’re moving in,
In every alley and quay,
At first they offer the King’s shilling,
To war with the enemy.’

‘But the Frenchies rake with the carronade
That will rip the flesh from your bones,
And the decks run red from the men who bled
Impressed from their wives and homes.’

‘They say he sails on the tide tonight
So they’re doing a quick Hot Press,
Even a gen’lman walking late
Won’t meet with their gentleness.’

‘A cudgel whack on a squire’s head
Then dragged to the bilges, free,
They’ll never know ‘til they all wake up
That they’re headed on out to sea.’

‘That Nelson’s got but a single arm,
He’s got but a single eye,
If that’s not enough to be alarmed
By God, then I wonder why!’

The Press Gang came to the Tavern door
But couldn’t come on inside,
They tried to sell me a Man o’ War
But Joe had made me decide.

I took a gulp of Jamaica ***
And I steeled myself to the task,
‘The Press are waiting outside,’ I cried,
‘Just hand me that rusty axe!’

David Lewis Paget
The rambling house was all run down,
Well, what you could even see of it,
It sat in extensive, weedy grounds
And a hawthorn hedge surrounded it.
The windows hadn’t been cleaned for years
The door was weathered, and boarded in,
They said that a hermit lived in there
Well hidden away from a world of sin.

And Sally was more than curious
Each time that we wandered by that way,
‘How could he live so close to us
And never be seen,’ she’d often say.
‘He must be lonely, or maybe mad,
I’d love to wander the rooms in there,’
But I said nothing, I thought it sad
And bad that Sally could even care.

‘I heard that he had a woman once
Before, when the house was nice and neat,
She worked in the garden there for months
And the house was visible from the street.
But that was before the hedgerow grew
And something happened, she went inside,
And never came out, not that I knew,
The rumours spread that the woman died.’

The weeks went by, she became obsessed,
‘What if she’s been imprisoned there?
Didn’t they ask, or go and check?’
‘Nobody knew, or even cared!
It happened so many years ago
And the garden overgrew with weeds,
Nobody wanted to even know,
Or interfere with a stranger’s deeds.’

Sally would stand by the broken gate
And peer on in at the jungle there,
‘Whatever you think, it’s far too late,
They’ll think you’re mad if you stand and stare.’
‘Somebody has to show they care,
I’m going into that house one night,
I want to know if she’s still in there
And so should you, if your head is right.’

I said I wouldn’t become involved,
So she went off on her crazy scheme,
Into the dark she sauntered forth
While I was asleep, and lost in dream.
She wasn’t there when I woke at dawn,
I searched the house and I went outside,
Took in the rambling house’s form
Then knew she’d gone, and I almost died.

I battled my way in through the weeds
And got to the house, the door ajar,
I called out, ‘Sally, just come on out,
I need you back, wherever you are.’
The house lay still as an ancient tomb,
The air was chill and the rooms were bare,
The dust was thick in the morning gloom
For nobody had been living there.

And Sally sat on a tiny mound
Out back, and near the wooded copse,
The grave I’d dug, with a stone surround
And covered with blue forget-me-nots.
‘You shouldn’t have come,’ I shook my head,
‘What’s done was done, and it can’t be changed,
She left for a share of my brother’s bed,
I would that it could be rearranged.’

But Sally sat with an empty stare
And I knew that I’d lost her then for good,
She didn’t know of that other mound
That my brother made in that tiny wood.
‘So this is the end of love that’s lost,’
She said, with the merest wave of her hand,
‘I’ll leave you alone to count the cost,’
Then leapt to her feet, and turned, and ran.

David Lewis Paget
The Church in its awesome majesty
Looked down, from over the hill,
From faith, to hope, to travesty
It stood, and is standing still,
So proud in its fine regalia
Its ritual, and never the least,
Its potent God who would wield his rod
Deter the jaws of the beast.

The Bishop of Saint Ignatius Church
Was a proud and holy man,
Who wouldn’t suffer the jibes of fools
From Rome to Afghanistan,
And certainly not those down the hill
In the new Masonic Lodge,
That beastly, secret doctrine that
He advised his flock to dodge.

He’d stand at the steps of his church and stare
Down at the barbarians,
He hated Lodges, he hated Mosques
And Rastafarians,
‘There shouldn’t be anyone else but me,
I hold the eternal God,
What gods they worship could never be,
For they’re all distinctly odd.’

While down at the Lodge of the Masons
They were cool with their golden rule,
They had to believe in a god as such,
But how, it was up to you.
For some would practice the Baptist faith,
And some Presbyterian,
While some enrolled in the Primitive state
Were a type of Wesleyan.

There was only a single Catholic
And he wore a glued on rug,
He wanted to still be young at heart,
Was known as the Grand HumBug,
The Antidiluvian Mason’s Guild
Was the name he’d chosen himself,
The others differed, but he was keen,
And he was the one with wealth.

Their God was known as the Architect,
They carried the masons tools,
The set square set them apart from all
The disbelievers and fools.
They worked on their secret rituals
And kept a goat at the back,
For leading a blindfold novice in
And guarding the Lodge from attack.

The Bishop heard that a Catholic
Was leading the Masons there,
He fumed, choked on his rhetoric, but
Was heard to firmly declare,
‘I will not shelter a wayward sheep
Who has taken to ways I hate,
The only fate for a traitor here
Is to excommunicate!’

He gathered a dozen priests to march
With candles, down to the Hall,
Surrounded the base heretic’s Lodge
And named HumBug in his call,
Sprinkled his holy water ‘til
It fizzed, and gave off a smell,
Doused his candle and closed his book,
Consigning the man to Hell!

But Humbug patted his glued on rug
Went out, untethered the goat,
He let it loose on the dozen Priests,
It butted the Bishop’s coat,
They ran in confusion up the street,
To the church, set up on the hill,
While the goat was hard at the Bishop’s heels
Like a demon released from Hell.

It butted the Bishop’s altar and
It charged, knocked over the font,
Scattered the pews for the devil’s dues
In a hellfire sacrament,
While HumBug muttered he might end up
In Hell, with his Mason’s sect,
But the Bishop’s God, had failed with his rod
In a clash with his Architect!

David Lewis Paget
The Jester put on his cap and bells
For the final time, we’re told,
The Queen was set to replace him for
She said he was far too old,
‘He doesn’t amuse me like he did
Before, when we all were young,
Should I dispense with his services,
Or command the Jester hung?’

Her courtiers were gathered around,
They wanted to please the Queen,
Lord Chalmers said, ‘Suspend by his feet!’
Then Darnley: ‘No! By his spleen!’
‘Tar and Feather him,’ said Bottolph,
‘And run him around the town,
Then tether him to a stake, and light
Him up, in the palace grounds.’

The Queen thought that was hilarious,
And clapped and cried in her mirth,
‘By Jove, we’ll have us some jesting yet,
We’ll bring him on down to earth!’
‘He’s sure to appreciate the jest
For he won’t deny your fun,’
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said,
‘We’ll gather in everyone.’

While the Jester sat in his lonely room
In a dark and evil tower,
He knew that he would be summoned soon
But he didn’t know the hour.
He wondered if she might knight him then
For his services to the crown,
Or grant him a fabulous pension for
The years that he’d played the clown?

For Jesters, they are but mortal men
Aside from their clownish role,
Down under bells and motley lives
A far from perfect soul,
The jesting covers a beating heart
That is rarely ever seen,
And his was filled with a lifetime love
For Her Majesty, the Queen.

He’d loved her since, as a little girl
She’d laughed and played in the grounds,
While he’d leapt out of the bushes there
To her squeals, and laughs and frowns,
He’d always jingled his bells for her,
And carried her in to tea,
When she was sleepy and all laughed out
After playing so happily.

He knew that he’d made more enemies
Than friends, as the years went by,
For jealousy breeds in a court with needs
And the courtiers were sly,
They took it in turns to trip him up
And to hurt, as part of the jest,
But he took new heart at the cruel laughs
By the ones who were not impressed.

He finally stood in front of the Queen
And bowed right down to the floor,
He looked for a smile on her much loved face
But a scowl was all he saw.
‘You’ve come to the end of your usefulness,
A Fool on a bended knee,
Take him outside and string him up,
Upside down from a tree!’

He hung for an hour in misery,
And then they had cut him down,
Tarred and feathered his motley’d form
And beat him around the town.
They wanted to stake and light him up
But the Queen said, ‘Let him go.
Give him a crown in a silver cup
For the years he amused me so!’

They cast him out in a farmer’s field
And barred him then from the court,
He wept and wailed in his anguish there
For a day and a night, and thought;
The slings and arrows he’d suffered from
Were now brought up with his bile,
And sweet revenge was his ruling theme,
He planned and schemed for a while.

One night he went to the palace yard
And crept down the cellar stair,
He doctored all the barrels of hock
And the fine French flagons there,
Then some time after the palace hunt
He hid in the servants’ hall,
And waited til they drank and were drunk
At the Queen’s Most Favoured Ball.

Then Bottolph woke in a barrel of tar,
And Chalmers hung by his heels,
While Darnley woke in a quivering fear
In a barrel of snakes and eels,
The Queen awoke in her stately bed
Pinned down by a giant sow,
And wearing the Jester’s bells. He said,
‘Who is the Jester now?’

David Lewis Paget
I followed the leaf-strewn path once more
Where it hugged the cemetery wall,
And made my way through the sandstone gap
Where the howl of the wind was stalled,
While snow still covered the sacred ground
And piled by each headstone lay,
Obscured the lettering, so profound
Of a love, now taken away.

And some of the headstones, cracked and worn
Cried out in their pure neglect,
Where were the ones their love had sworn
Who’d never visited yet?
But then a headstone, polished and new
With a name fresh cut in the stone,
I knelt in awe as my wonder grew
That beauty returned to bone.

My tears were frozen on either cheek,
The frost on my forehead lay,
If she could see from her reverie
She’d see that my face was grey,
But nothing stirred on that tiny mound
That covered her form below,
The wind that howled was the only sound
And I thought it told me to go.

‘Get up and leave, you can only grieve
In this garden of dead desire,
Love in this place may only deceive
It’s as dead as the ash in a fire.’
Sadly I placed the poem I wrote
For the girl, in case she’d need it,
Under a rock by the headstone there
In the hopes that Death might read it.

David Lewis Paget
At Tintern Abbey I set my bait
To fish in the River Wye,
I’d only been an hour, I swear
When the girl came floating by,
Her dress spread out, a fine brocade
And some lace about her hair,
I almost drowned when I reeled her in
And fell in the river there.

I pulled her up on the river bank
And she lay, and softly sighed,
I felt a strange relief, and thanked
The Lord, I thought she’d died.
But her eyelids gave a flutter then
And she looked at me apace,
‘Would you be one of the Abbot’s men?
There’s no mark upon your face.’

‘I only came to fish,’ I said,
‘And I like what I have caught.’
The look she gave me made me blush
For it set my jest at naught.
‘The Abbot Gilbert lies within
By his candle, book and prayer,
The pestilence has found his sin
For he knows, he’s dying there.’

I thought her speech was quaint and old
Like an echo, lost in time,
I thought, ‘I’ve never seen one so fair,
If only she was mine!’
But she sat, and moved away from me
And she said, ‘You mustn’t touch,
For death has stained this fine country,
It may have you in its clutch.’

‘But I only came to fish,’ I said,
And, ‘there’s nothing wrong with me;
Yet you float down the River Wye
And will end up in the sea.’
‘I chose the cleansing waters so
To avoid the pestilence,
The dead lie in the fields about
And it spares no eminence.’

‘My husband, Guy Fitzherbert bleeds
In the Abbey’s ante-room,
His pilgrimage denied his needs
And the Lord will take him soon.’
I stared at Tintern Abbey’s shell
Standing gaunt against the sky,
‘You must be catching a fever,
We must go and get you dry.’

‘I needs must be on my way again,
Good sir, I wish you well,
But leave this place if you’d rather live
Than enter the gates of Hell.’
My mind caught at some thing she said
And a thought, then so sublime,
I asked the girl, ‘What year is this…?’
‘Thirteen forty-nine!’

David Lewis Paget
I’ve followed you out in the yard,
And then when you mounted the stair,
I thought I was watching an angel,
But you didn’t know I was there.
You moved with such elegant grace,
That I couldn’t help but stare,
You seemed so above and beyond me,
That all that I felt was despair.

We’d pass in the pit of the stairwell,
Your latté, you held in a cup,
When I’d see you coming toward me,
I’d hope, but you’d never look up.
My heart would rebound in my ribcage,
I’d turn and I’d stare at your back,
I wondered how I could approach you
And worked on a plan of attack.

Perhaps I could trip, and I’d stumble,
And push you right into the wall,
Then clutch at you, ever so humble,
And tell you that I was appalled.
At least I could get you to see me,
You couldn’t ignore me again,
But when it came down to it, clearly,
An angel’s beyond mortal men.

The love that I felt was like heartburn,
It plagued all my nights and my days,
I’d torture myself with each notion,
And plotted in various ways,
I constantly thought of your beauty,
And hardened myself to the task,
‘I wondered,’ I said, ‘ if you knew me?’
You sighed, ‘I thought you’d never ask.’

David Lewis Paget
There lives a poet beyond the trees
But all that he writes is pain,
He spends his evenings down on his knees
Regretting the way he came,
He thinks of the path he should have trod
And the path that he really took,
Then writes regrets in a verse to God
And places them all in a book.

A single book on an altar there
That nobody else will see,
He won’t let anyone read his verse
For, ‘That’s between God, and me!’
But he reads and writes them over again
And his tears will stain his cheek,
‘They’re only the faults of mortal men,’
He thinks, but they make him weep.

He weeps for the loss of an innocence
That he barely remembers now,
It seems so long since his world went wrong
Yet he cannot imagine how.
He tried so hard to be godly then
But the good in his deeds went sour,
And hurt so many he knew back when,
He lies in his bed, to cower.

His heart had leapt on the wings of love
It brought him a purer truth,
He thought she came from the lord above
But all that she had was youth,
And time and fortune had withered that
As the tone in her voice went harsh,
It went from roses and sweet perfume
To the croak you hear in the marsh.

Would nothing pleasant inspire his verse,
Would nothing brighten his day?
He’d sit and chew on his feather quill
And search for something to say.
There must be more to a life than this
For others were doing well,
While he would brood on the sadder bits,
Imagining life as hell.

A girl went wandering though the trees
Carolling loud and clear,
It brought the poet up from his knees
And straining so he could hear,
She sang the song of a trilling bird
And the poet’s eyes were bright,
His heart leapt higher the more he heard
And he took her home that night.

His verses now hold the sweet refrain
Of a birdsong, light and free,
He wields his quill with an inner thrill,
‘How could this happen to me?’
The book of pain on the altar’s stained
With neglect, and barely a nod,
‘I’ll take this life with my darling wife
And I’ll leave the rest to God!’

David Lewis Paget
I sat up late with a Shoot-em-up
While the wife went off to bed,
There was a time I’d have joined her, but
She only had sleep in her head.
There was Gabby Hayes and a guy called Clint
Holed up in a barn, in Mo.,
And blasting away at the barn outside
Was an evil guy, called Joe.

I knew which was the good and the bad
Though they each wore a Stetson hat,
For Hayes and Clint’s were a pearly white
While this evil Joe’s was black.
He’d robbed the Stage, and hidden the loot
In the barn, where the good guys lay,
He yelled, ‘You’d better throw out them sacks,
If not, then you’d better pray!’

‘The Sheriff will come and kick your ****,’
Rang out the voice of Clint,
‘I’ll say, Dadburned if he don’t,’ said Hayes
‘You’re a pesky, bad varmint!’
Then it ended, as the old westerns did
With Joe laid out on a slab,
Though he starred again in a hundred films
He was always labelled bad.

I went out onto the porch to smoke
It was warm, a summer night,
While the Southern Cross shone up above
In the Milky Way, so bright,
And I pondered then on a single line
That Joe had snarled, to connive,
‘If you don’t throw out them sacks right now
You’ll never get out alive!’

The world is full of the likes of Joe
Who threaten and rob, and steal,
While the rest of us are lying low
And living a life that’s real.
But he said one thing that applies to us
To the bad and the good that strive,
Whatever the sort of life you live
You’ll never get out alive!’

David Lewis Paget
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