Have ever you noticed that liars
Cross their fingers when they lie?
They seem to think it absolves them from
A judgement, up on high,
For fingers crossed means they didn’t mean
The thing they’re telling you,
But if you’re silly, and fall for it
They make you think it’s true.
I knew a terrible liar once
His name was John Coltrane,
He always cried on my shoulder then
As if he was in pain,
He said that life was short-changing him,
That there was nothing fair,
It only took just a minor thing
To drive him to despair.
We both worked then at an auto plant
And used a giant press,
Knocking out doors and bonnets there,
And working under stress,
For time and motion had set a rate
That we could not fulfil,
And truth to tell it had seemed like hell
And was making Coltrane ill.
No matter how fast we put them through
The steel kept banking up,
Thanks to the other press’s crew
Who’d stop, and have a cup,
While we were struggling then to clear
The backlog, piled up high,
And John was constantly in my ear,
‘I think I want to die.’
I said that he didn’t mean it,
It was just a lousy job,
But he just kept on repeating it
And even began to sob,
To tell the truth, it got on my nerves,
It really began to grate,
I lost my cool, and I said the fool
Was really tempting fate.
He seemed to go a bit crazy then,
Lay backwards on the dye,
I tried to pull him away, but he
Lay staring at the sky,
The press came down with a mighty thump
And it flattened out his head,
Two hundred and fifty tons per inch
Said John Coltrane was dead.
We all of us stood around in shock
When the press released him there,
All that was left was a headless corpse
With blood and brains to spare,
His corpse let out a terrible sigh
At the judgement he had lost,
For though he said he would want to die,
He lay with his fingers crossed.
David Lewis Paget