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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
HelloPoetry Blessed us all , no matter where we live.
I am truly Blessed by each and everyone alike here.
There are so many here on this here site that I am thankful for.
Sally Bayan, Mike Hauser, Iamdaisie, Olivia Kent, Wendy Ronshausen,Brandon Nagley, Earl Jane, Rachel Sia Jane Lloyd, Lydia Monet,Neil Aranda, Mark Cleavenger, Ann Marie Johnson, Melanie Wilson-Herring, Mike Essig,  **** Paz Its Gonna Make Sense.
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MydstopiA,adhi das, South by southwest, Petal, soulsurvivor.
reformdancerecover,Ashly Kocher, Mack, Travler, Randolph Wilson.
Plus many more whom are very special indeed whom did not make this poem love you all in Christ.
I was sent to work at the old Repat.
It was forty years since the war,
Those ancient diggers would sit and swear
At the pain of the limbs they wore,
The wounds would open as years went by,
They’d come for another slice,
That war was never over for them,
And morphine was paradise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
The wind was swaying the treetops as
I cut across from the church,
The sun had darkened behind the clouds
When I saw the crow on its perch,
Its feathers fluttered, it looked quite grim
As it sat there, quite on its own,
But watching me with a beady eye
From the top of a blank headstone.

I pulled the collar around my ears
And hunched in my overcoat,
The wind was bringing a bitter chill
To whip at my face and throat,
I staggered over and off the path,
Walked over the headstone plot,
And felt a shiver run down my spine
To wonder what time she’d got.

The crow had uttered a single ‘caw’
From the depths of its blue-black beak,
Then spread its wings like an avatar
And lashed a **** in my cheek,
I stumbled off, I could feel the blood
As it ran, from under my eye,
And hurried home, though I flung a stone
At the crow as it flew on by.

But Rachel stood at the window as
I came in the gate, at last,
She saw the blood, and she put her hand
On up to her mouth, aghast.
I told her it was a minor cut
A thorn on a rose that waved,
She shuddered, flooded her eyes with tears,
Said, ‘Someone walked on my grave!’

‘Someone walked on my grave,’ she said
‘Not even an hour ago…’
My mind went back to the headstone, and
The evil glare of the crow.
‘You’re overwrought, you should sit and rest,
Get warm, for the room is dank,’
But all I could see in my mind just then
Was a headstone that was blank.

I’d taken her from a cruel home
For her parents both were dead,
She’d been brought up by a grandmother
Who was violent, sick she said.
She’d threatened me when we went away
That she’d not be long my bride,
And Rachel never felt safe with me
‘Til her grandmother had died.

I managed to catch the warden when
I saw him, late in the week,
‘Why is that headstone blank?’ I said,
‘Whose is the grave you keep?’
‘There’s no-one buried under that stone,
It was raised for a future soul,
A woman came in the driving rain
And paid for that grave with gold.’

‘But surely you have a name for her
In the graveyard book; you’d know.’
He knitted his brow, and thought aloud:
‘I think that her name was Crow!
She dressed in black, in a mourning gown
With a cloak that looked like wings,
Then vanished, as she had first appeared
When I turned to ask her things.’

I passed the stone on the way back home,
And I stared, my mouth ajar,
For someone had cut a letter there
In the face of the stone, an ‘R’,
I thought of Rachel, hurried on home
But was late, too late I know,
For flying past as I reached the gate
Was the dread form of the crow.

It crashed straight into the window where
My Rachel stood and stared,
Dressed in black, in a mourning gown
It was just as I had feared.
The window smashed as the crow had crashed
With shards of glass all round,
The crow embedded in Rachel’s throat
As she choked her last on the ground.

She lay with both of her arms outstretched
Like a pair of wings in black,
The bird ripped open her jugular,
She wouldn’t be coming back.
I knew she’d hated her grandmother,
She remembered every blow,
But didn’t think she’d be coming back
Though her maiden name was ‘Crow!’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
I was travelling through the country
That was once East Turkestan,
Keeping my western mouth shut in
The province, Xinjiang,
I wasn’t going to linger there,
I had planned to head due east,
And follow the Western Wall to where
They spoke my Shanghainese.

They spoke a myriad dialects
All over Xinjiang,
There must have been forty languages,
And I didn’t know but one,
I had to get by with signing ‘til
I wandered in through the trees,
Into a tiny village where
A man spoke Shanghainese.

He stood in front of a tiny shop
That was selling drink and dates,
And something evil that looked like worms
All white, and served on a plate,
He said, ‘Ni Hao’, and ushered me in
And I took what I could get,
Shut my eyes and shovelled it in,
I can taste the foul stuff yet.

But there in the back of the tiny shop
Were a host of curios,
Most of them antique statuettes
The sort that the tourists chose,
But up on a shelf, I saw a lamp
Covered in grease and dust,
I said, ‘How much do you want for it?’
‘More than your soul, I trust!’

I said, ‘It looks like Aladdin’s Lamp,
But that was the Middle East!’
He shook his head and he said to me,
‘Aladdin was Chinese!
His palace used to be over there,’
And he pointed out to a mound,
A hill of rubble and pottery shards
That covered a hectare round.

He said he’d fossicked the ancient mound
And found all sorts of things,
Cups and plates and statuettes
And even golden rings,
But the thing he found that intrigued him most
Was the finding of that lamp,
He’d dug it out of a cellar there
That was cold, and dark, and damp.

And there by the lamp was an ancient scroll
With instructions in Chinese,
‘Don’t rub the lamp for a trivial thought
For the Djinn will not be pleased,
There are seven and seventy wishes here
Then the Djinn’s released from the spell,
But if you should wish the seventy-eighth
Then you’ll find yourself in hell!’

‘So how many wishes have now been wished,’
But the old man shook his head,
‘If I knew that, would I still be here,
I would rather this, than dead.’
He said that he’d been afraid to wish
For the lamp was ancient then,
Had passed through many since it was new,
Back in Aladdin’s den.

I offered to give him a thousand yuan,
But he shook his head, and sighed,
‘I’d rather keep it a curio,
It’s just a question of pride.’
I raised my bid, ten thousand yuan
And his face broke into a smile,
‘For that I would sell my mother’s hand,
And she’s been gone for a while.’

I paid the money and took the lamp
Then wandered into the street,
Held my breath and I thought of death,
And then of my aching feet,
Shanghai was a couple of months away
If I walked as the rivers flowed,
So I rubbed the lamp and I made a wish,
Woke up on the Nanjing Road.

It only had taken a minute or so
To travel a thousand miles,
I put the lamp in my haversack
And warmed to the Shanghai smiles,
I had a meal, and rented a room
And fell in bliss on the bed,
What I could do with another wish
Was the thought that entered my head.

I’m writing this by the flickering light
Of a candle, stuck in the lamp,
All I can smell is candlewax
And the air in here is damp,
I rubbed the lamp and I made a wish
But smoke poured out of the spout,
The Djinn took off with a howl of glee,
There’s no way of getting out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
‘Just where do you think you’re going, girl
With those ribbons in your hair?’
‘I’m off to the world of Make Believe
To the Hart Midsummer Fair.
They say there’s a Magical Fairy Ring
Where the maids dance round a pole,
Where the step of a dainty pair of feet
Can win you a *** of gold.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
The cards had been falling badly for
The man that they knew as Jack,
He’d entered through the scullery door
In a faded, stained old Mac,
He didn’t look like he had a buck
Til he reached into his coat,
And pulled a roll of hundreds out
That would choke a Nanny Goat.

They said he could play a hundred down
And a hundred for each raise,
It didn’t appear to faze him then,
He said, ‘Well, loser pays!’
He fooled them all with his poker face
And he bluffed at first to win,
But by the time that the clock struck eight
His roll was getting thin.

When Diamond Jim played a Royal Flush
And took his final note,
Jack stood up and he shook his head
And reached out for his coat,
‘I thought that you’d try to win it back,
You must have more to spare,
I’ll wager it all for what you’ve got
In your pocket, double dare!’

Jack then sat, and his eyes had glowed
As he scowled at Diamond Jim,
Pulled out a tarnished silver coin
And he said, ‘Well let’s begin!’
They eyed the coin on the table-top
Its head like a man with horns,
‘You can’t look now at the tails of it
Til you own it, then it’s yours.’

‘What would you say that coin is worth,
I’ve never seen its like.’
‘There isn’t enough in all the earth
To purchase it, by right,
It must be won in a game of chance
As I won it, long ago,
From a man like a Turkish Sultan that
I met in a travelling show.

Diamond Jim dealt a single hand
And he said, ‘What if I win?’
‘Then you can look at the coin’s reverse
And the chaos will begin!’
‘I think that you’d better show me now
Before we play this hand,
I’m not so sure that I want this coin
With its evil Goats Head Man.

Jack reached out and he tossed the coin
Which spun for a while up there,
As each man suddenly felt the pain
Of a deep and a dark despair,
It took forever to clatter down
And rest on the table top,
The sign of a Spider facing up,
They thought that their hearts would stop.

For up from the coin the spirits came
Of the ones that they’d loved and lost,
And all of them seemed to be in pain
As the wailing came across,
They lurched away from the table, and
They stood and they shook in fear,
‘By God, there’s Marilyn Ampersand
Who drowned in June last year.’

The walls of the room then fell away
They stood on a stony beach,
A woman was drowning out in the surf
But totally out of reach,
And Diamond Jim gave an awful cry
From the depths of his shattered soul,
‘I’d give the world as a ransom, dear,
To bring you back safe, and whole.’

Then Jack had snatched at the tarnished coin
And flipped it up on its head,
The room returned, they were standing there,
‘You can bring her back from the dead!
You only have to possess the coin
Are you willing to play the hand?’
But Jim had wiped at his fevered brow
And shook, he could barely stand.

He took his winnings, all in a roll
And he pushed them back at Jack,
‘Just take your coin and your money too
And leave, don’t ever come back!
I like my world as it is, my friend,
Though grief lies deep in the groin,
But Marilyn won’t be coming back
From the other side of the coin!’

David Lewis Paget
I’d thought that they were extinct until
I found one in the coop,
A genuine Jersey Giant, strutting
Up on the henhouse roof,
Twice the size of the other hens
As I said to my sister, Faye,
‘Where did it come from?’ She replied,
‘Not there yesterday!’

‘I go to collect the eggs each day,
Do you think that could be missed?
That bird is a giant,’ she declared,
‘So don’t blame me, desist!’
I calmed her down, for she used to flare
At the slightest hint of crit.,
‘Whatever it is, it’s here to stay,
Perhaps we can breed from it?’

There wasn’t a cockerel near the size
Of this random Jersey Black,
‘It must have come visiting overnight,
I joked, ‘from a neighbour’s shack.’
She wandered into the henhouse and
From behind an empty keg,
She said, ‘You’d better come look at this,’
And showed me a giant egg.

An egg so big that you wouldn’t think
That a chicken could let it pass,
Tall and brown with a pointed crown
And a shell as thick as glass,
‘Are we going to let it hatch it out,’
Said Faye, ‘or crack it yet?
I wonder how many that would feed
As a giant omelette?’

‘We’ll leave her be, and we’ll wait and see
If a monster’s there inside,
We might as well, if a cockerel
It can be the henhouse pride.’
So we let her sit on the giant egg
For a week, or maybe more,
Then Faye came running inside one day,
‘You’ve not seen this before!’

The egg emitted a humming noise
And rocked a bit on its base,
While through the shell there were coloured lights
That would fade then grow apace,
And as we stood it began to crack
Then pieces would fall away,
It almost gave me a heart attack
For what I saw that day.

For spinning inside the egg we saw
A tiny universe,
With a sun-like star at the centre and
Our planets, in reverse,
And as we watched it began to grow
To float out the henhouse door,
Swelling constantly as it rose
To the skies, with a mighty roar.

I don’t know what it has done to us,
The sky doesn’t look the same,
There are three moons now in the evening sky
Since the Jersey rooster came,
I lopped the chicken that laid the egg
And I wait for the slightest sight,
With an axe for the Jersey cockerel
That Faye prays to at night.

David Lewis Paget
It’s thirty years since I travelled back
To wander my childhood home,
To check out the trees I used to climb
And the fields where I used to roam,
I remembered the friends that used to play,
Wendy and Paul and Mark,
And the local bully that had his way
Back then, in the Boating Park.

We’d go up there on a Sunday, pay
Our money and hire a boat,
That fourpence each to the gatekeeper
Saw the three of us afloat,
Each boat had paddlewheels either side
You could turn, and stop or start,
Or spin around in a circle, just
For fun, at the Boating Park.

The Park, laid out in a rectangle
Took an hour to paddle round,
Once out of sight of the gatekeeper
The banks would muffle the sound,
We’d scream and shriek and laugh and beam
As we rammed each other’s boats,
I often thought it a wonder that
We didn’t puncture the floats.

Then over beyond the halfway mark
We lay in the shade of trees,
The sun would sink, it was getting dark
And we’d hear the murmur of bees,
We had to pass there under a bridge
And duck, for the bridge was low,
And that’s where the bully McPherson stood
On the bridge, those years ago.

He’d jeer, throw stones and catcall as we
Tried to get under the span,
Then climb and drop into Wendy’s boat
He wouldn’t have tried with a man.
He’d paddle over the further side
And make her get out of the boat,
Then paddle it back the way we came
Get out, and leave it afloat.

One Sunday I sat under the bridge
With Paul and Mark beside,
While Wendy came along on her own
As if on a solo ride,
The bully tried the very same thing
But we each pulled on his coat,
And when he came up, he couldn’t scream
For the water lodged in his throat.

He splashed about and he tried to grab
The boat, but his clothes, like lead,
Were trying to drag him down, while Paul
And Mark, they stood on his head.
Wendy had clambered up on the bank
Controlled, and well in command,
For every time he tried to get out,
She’d stamp and stomp on his hand.

The paper said it was very strange
That he must have put up a fight,
But hadn’t the strength to pull himself
Up out of the cut that night.
His hands and fingers were shredded, where
He’d tried to climb up the bank,
But the weight of his heavy, sodden clothes
Were the demons he had to thank.

I went to visit the Boating Park
It was just the way I feared,
I met up there with an older Mark,
A man with a greying beard,
He told me Wendy and Paul were dead
Weighed down with a sense of sin,
And the gatekeeper at the Boating Park
Had gone, when they filled it in.

David Lewis Paget
The beach swept away in the distance,
The tide as far out as could be,
A couple were laughing and playing there,
She’d cuffed him, in fun, to a tree,
‘Now that isn’t fair, Isabella,’
He’d laughed, as she danced in the sand,
‘You’re going to be mine, Richard Andrew Devine
Or forever be tied to the land.’

She taunted and teased and annoyed him,
He said, ‘I just want to be free!’
She spun on the sand and she held out her hand
And she laughed as she dangled the key.
‘You can stay ‘til I hear your proposal,
It’s like squeezing out blood from a stone,
If you fail to propose, this relationship’s closed
And I’ll leave you out here on your own.’

‘We’ve talked about this, Isabella,
And you know it can’t possibly be,
I’m already wed, when you came to my bed…
For God’s sake, just throw me the key!’
‘You know that you’ve never been happy,
With her, or with all of her friends,
It’s time you got rid of the lot of them,
It’s time you were making amends.’

‘I said at the start, Isabella,
That a fling was the most it could be,’
A shadow passed over his worried brow
As he looked at the incoming sea.
‘That might have been in the beginning,
But you know it’s gone further than that,
I’m having your child, did you know, in a while
And I’ll not have you leaving me flat.’

The sweat had burst out on his fevered brow
As the water encroached on the sand,
‘Did you know we’re beneath the high water mark,
In an hour or so, I’ll be drowned!’
‘The choice becomes yours, you must get a divorce
Or I’ll just walk away and be free.
There’s no going back, I’m determined in that,
I’ll be walking away with the key.’

The sea was beginning to lap at his feet,
And she to retreat as it came,
Then suddenly she was beginning to sink
While crying that he was to blame.
In seconds she’d sunk in the sand to her waist
In terror she cried, ‘Rescue me!’
But he was restrained by a half inch of chain,
‘For God’s sake, just throw me the key!’

‘How do I know that you won’t walk away
And just leave me to sink in the sand?’
‘I wouldn’t do that, just throw me the key
Or we’ll both become part of the land!’
She’d sunk to her shoulders at this point in time
And she struggled to pull out her arm,
Then raised it on high and she let the key fly
As they both held their breath, in alarm.

‘I’ve told her I want a divorce,’ he cried,
As the key fell just short of his reach,
‘And I lost the baby a week ago,’
She cried, to her neck in the beach.
They stared at each other as she sank from sight
Then the water rose over his head,
As a little gold key, was swept by the sea
To a hand that was already dead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget
Down at the end of Charters Street
In a dim-lit part of town,
There stands the old Alhambra and
They’re going to pull it down.
We warned them up at the council, but
They said it’s a waste of space,
There’s not been a film for twenty years
Since the Carol Ransome case.

Carol was found in a pool of blood
By the curtains, up on the stage,
Somebody took a knife to her
In a crazed, death-dealing rage,
They never discovered just who it was
But the cinema closed right down,
Nobody wanted to go again
In this hick, one hotel town.

That was the end of our childhood fun
Our own theatre of dreams,
No more Saturday Matinées
Or milk shakes or ice creams,
Nothing to do in this one horse town
But to chase the girls in the park,
And get some serious kissing done
When the day was getting dark.

So Al and Joe and Mary Ann
And me, I must admit,
Broke on into the cinema
And found ourselves in the pit,
Right in front of the dusty stage
Where the curtains hung in shreds,
Barely hiding the giant screen
That was covered in old cobwebs.

We’d played in there for an hour or so
Running between the rows,
Making the Hammond ***** screech
Like a fat man touching his toes,
When suddenly there was a swishing sound
And the curtains began to part,
And something flickered up on the screen
As if it was going to start.

We stood stock still and we held our breath
When the speakers grumbled and groaned,
‘It looks like we’ve got an audience!’
A voice on the speakers moaned.
Then faces peered from the ancient screen
From the days of black and white,
But there wasn’t a single projection beam
From the room where it used to light.

A shimmering glow from the screen fell on
The first few rows of seats,
And one dimensional girls appeared
With ice creams and with treats,
The figures spilled from the silver screen
And onto the wooden stage,
Dracula, framed in black and white
And Frankenstein in a rage.

We were all of us petrified by blood
And Al was thinking to run,
But ‘Don’t you move!’ said an ugly hood
On the screen, and pointing a gun.
They made us sit in the second row
And paraded their long-gone fame,
Bela Lugosi’s fangs and cloak
And the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Then as they faded a woman walked
From the wings, and out on the stage,
And a man that we knew as Grocer George
Flew suddenly into a rage.
He knifed the woman a dozen times
And he beat her down to the floor,
And over the screams of Mary Ann
We made a break for the door.

The screen went dark and the stage was bare
And the curtains hung like shrouds,
We said that we’d never go back in there
As we lay, looked up at the clouds,
But we each went in to the grocery store
And we whispered, ‘Carol’s back!’
‘We know what you did,’ said Mary Ann
And George’s eyes went black.

He chased us out of his grocery
And he closed the store for good,
Then policeman Andy found him hanging
Down in the Maple wood.
They’d better not take the Alhambra down
Or the ghosts of the silver screen,
Will all get out, and they’ll roam about
Without a theatre of dreams!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget

(Inspired by E. A. Poe’s ‘A Descent into the Maelstrom).
‘There has to be something more than this,’
She said, with a thoughtful frown,
Standing over the farmhouse sink
And the dishes, looking down,
Her brother was out in the milking shed
And her mother had gone away,
They hadn’t seen her in fifteen years
But thought of her, every day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Lewis Paget

— The End —