David Lewis Paget

Gold Star - 9,373 Points (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Book Of Van Den Braak - Poem by David Lewis Paget

I stared at the book on the table
Where it lay on the weathered oak,
The cover so black and tarnished,
Tanned in leather through coils of smoke,
Its ancient layers had long been carved
As petals of some grim flower,
Where an evil mildew spread its mould
From the walls of that ancient tower.

The book was set like an altar piece
In that ancient, flagstoned hall,
Catching the feeble rays of light
Through cracks in the old stone wall,
I hastened to look away, but yet
It gripped me in its glare,
Like some old German Grimoire...
Though no title page was there!

I reached for the cover and opened it,
The leather creaked with age,
As it formed with its rotting petals
Into a rose around the page,
The smell of the mildew wafted up
And the chill was damp and stark,
There was nothing but evil in that tower,
In the book of Van den Braak.

I leant right over the book and saw
A woodcut of a lane,
The trees were grim in their winter coats
As the snow gave way to rain,
The mud was thick on the barren leaves
That were mulched from the Autumn's fall,
And I felt it squelch right under my feet
As the wind howled round the hall!

The tower was gone, I stood outside
In the rain and the brooding dark,
Walking along a windswept lane
In the book of Van den Braak,
I saw the light of a cottage there,
Set back in among the trees,
And a woman wailed on the painted step,
My own, my dear Louise!

I ran towards her, through a stream
That babbled beside the lane,
Louise was crying and wailing there,
She muttered: 'I'm not to blame! '
I must have seemed like a phantom there,
I waved, but she couldn't see,
She said, 'you shouldn't have killed him,
I just asked you to set me free! '

A man ran out from the cottage door,
His coat was covered in blood,
He ran his hands through his tangled hair
And fell, to kneel in the mud.
He took her into his arms and cried,
She clung, and called him Mark,
And then when he turned, I saw his face,
I knew him - Van den Braak!

I must have been quite invisible
In the pages of that book,
Or they were a couple of phantoms
Making love as I stood and shook,
I walked around to the cottage door
And peered in out of the rain,
I lay stone dead on the hearthstone there,
A bullet lodged in my brain.

In shock I turned, I saw the tower,
I ran with all my might,
Back to the Norman Keep and Moat,
Back through the surly night,
The eyes of demons had followed me
From high in the trees of the park,
But I was ready for come-what-may
At the hands of Van den Braak!

Then suddenly, I was in the tower,
Leaning over the book,
When Van den Braak called out that he
Was ready to take a look,
I'd brought the book with the tenants' rents
Of those that lived in the park,
But I stabbed him high in the rib cage there,
And cut his throat in the dark!

I went to his German Grimoire
Fell once more through the open page,
Went looking for my Louise, by now
In the white hot throes of rage,
She sat and wailed on the painted step
And muttered there in the dark...
'I didn't ask you to kill the man,
Just free me from Van den Braak! '

1 April 2010


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 23, 2010

Poem Edited: Friday, April 23, 2010


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