David Lewis Paget
The Ventriloquist - Poem by David Lewis Paget
An angry roar from the cheaper seats
Had followed them both outside,
Out of the rear, by the actor’s door
They looked for a place to hide,
Lord Jimmy’s coat had seen better days,
His shoes were muddy and dull,
And Bodger’s hat was crushed and dismayed
As he held it close to his skull!
‘Look what you’ve brought us to, sir, ’ he said,
Flapping his wooden jaw,
‘Out in the cold on a Saturday night;
It never does rain, but it pours! ’
Jimmy had tucked him right under his arm
And kept to the brickworks wall,
The shadows were long on the Old Kent Road
As the rain had begun to fall!
‘Oh Great! ’ the Bodger had spat in the dark,
As he scraped his head on a brick,
Taking a layer of varnish off,
And making him feel quite sick!
‘It’s cold and wet, and my head will swell
If the rain gets into my wood…’
‘If you don’t shut up, I’ll brain you first!
Let that be understood! ’
So off they marched, on into the night
To look for a place to sleep,
A laundry, stables, a bed of straw,
A station, hotel, or keep.
The rain set in as a drizzle out there
And soaked to the skin and bone,
Soaked through their coats to the varnish and wood
If the truth of the case be known.
‘I told you that ‘Bodger’s’ a lousy name,
You know you can’t mention a ‘B’,
The audience knew you were moving your lips,
Every ‘b’, every ‘v’, every ‘p’.’
‘You think you’re so smart, ’ Lord Jimmy replied,
‘I’m sick of you flapping your jaw,
If you can do better…’ - he stopped and he sighed,
His gaze cast down to the floor.
They walked and they walked through Bermondsey
Where the might of the Thames still flows,
While Bodger had wriggled his eyebrows once,
And sniffed through his dripping red nose.
‘I hope that you’re planning to dry me out,
My clothes are starting to shrink! ’
‘I’ll turn you into a scarecrow, then;
They’ll be laughing at that, I think! ’
The Dummy had flung him about at that,
And clocked Jimmy under the jaw,
Who fell in a heap like a worthless rat,
While Bodger stood tall, and swore,
He kicked and he rolled him over the bank
And into the swirling Thames,
The universe spun at the horror he’d done,
They’d always been known as ‘friends’.
Lord Jimmy just floated out under a bridge,
His face to the evening sky,
A look of surprise on the lids of his eyes
As his overcoat drifted by,
His body of walnut, his fingers of pine
And his head, finely chiselled in teak,
While Bodger awoke in the skin of a bloke,
Broke his heart for the rest of the week!
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