Billy Bennett

(1887-1942 / Great Britain)

The Tightest Man I Know - Poem by Billy Bennett

The tightest man I know is an Irish Eskimo,
He's selling grapes with whiskers on beneath a burning sun.
And he's working night and day, though his feet are turning grey,
Trying to straighten out bananas, and that's a thing he hasn't done!

Jim and I were pals together in the days of Auld Lang Syne,
We were even chums at college when his cell was next to mine.
He's pulled me out of many a scrape, and I've pulled corks for Jim,
I'd risk my life for myself, and he'd do the same for him!

Then a woman came to part us. She was pretty as a cart-horse,
And she didn't rest till Jim and I did part.
He'd her picture in a locket. which he wore in his back pocket,
So he always had her photo next his heart!

I sailed away to 'Frisco, leaving him and her alone,
She dragged him to the gutter bit by bit.
She blackened both his eyes, and then to Jim's surprise
Tried to hand him out another, but he'd nowhere it would fit.

Then she left him for a Dago, a hokey-pokey man,
Supposed to be the richest gink in town
He was making money fly, throwing dollars to the sky,
And he always used to catch them coming down.

This Dago, slippery Joe, was the tightest guy I know,
And he'd had one pair of trousers round his legs
For nine vears it is true, and the pockets were brand new,
And he used to look in cuckoo-clocks for eggs.

I returned from 'Frisco's gates on a pair of roller skates,
And I met Jim with a face just like the Sphinx.
He'd incurred some gambling losses, playing foolish noughts and crosses,
And so doped he sometimes bought a round of drinks.

He said he'd like a bottle, so we walked into a Hottle (sorry, Hotel)
Where a fat girl rose and gave us both her seat.
At the table we were sipping at a glass of bread and dripping
When I saw the cursed woman face to feet-feet to feet-face to face!

She was sitting with the Dago, he'd his whiskers full of sago,
You'd think they owned the blessed earth to watch them dine and sup,
And Jim said, 'For two pins I'd kick him on the shins''-
Well I had two pins, but needed them to hold my trousers up.

So we sat there for a second, 'till the woman to us beckoned,
We went over to her table just to listen to her chin.
She said that she regretted, she wept and cried and fretted,
The tears rolled down until our whisky looked like drops of gin.

Then a shot rang through the night, and bang out went the light,
We heard the crash of falling steel and glass.
The head waiter gave a curse as he dived down for his purse-
It was his turn for a penny for the gas.

When the lights went up again, we'd been tricked, 'twas very plain,
For uncannily the place was calm and still.
And the woman and the Dago had vamoosed upon their way-go
And left my poor chum Jim to pay the bill!

There's a custom over there, if you haven't got your fare,
You're branded with hot irons as an outcast from the Greeks.
Jim was seized by six Hussars, made to Sit on red- hot bars,
But he stuck it like a hero-that's how he got rosy cheeks!

When they call the final rolls, and we just wear camisoles,
In a land that's far away from earthly woe;
When Jim hands in his cheque, if they don't include his neck,
I'm sure he'll be the whitest man I know!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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