David Lewis Paget
You can't see the tiny village
In the bush, called Barton Leas
For it's hidden in a hollow,
Down a track and through the trees,
And you'd pass it on the highway
Never knowing where to stop,
If it wasn't for a broken sign
That indicates a shop.
There are just two dozen houses
By the shop, a little pub,
And an oval with no grass on
All burnt up, just like the scrub,
While the buildings look forsaken
Peeling paint in every street,
And the roofs are made of iron
Fending off the scorching heat.
You would think the place deserted
If you ventured there by day,
For the streets are always empty
Like the folk have gone away,
But that's only in the summer
When the sun is at its height,
If you want to see some movement
Then, you have to go at night.
For it's then that all the neighbors
Gather, drinking at the pub,
Or go out to tend their gardens
Though their gardens are burnt up,
For it hasn't rained in Barton Leas
For years that I can see
When a passing shower startled them,
The first since fifty-three.
The people seemed so friendly
When John Inkerman turned up,
He was just a passing drifter
Quite a jolly, friendly chap,
And the locals thought he'd fit right in
And rented him a place,
They would pay him for odd jobs,
Invite him round for tea and cake.
There had never been an argument
Before in Barton Leas,
For the folk were all good neighbors
Helped each other, tried to please,
But when Inkerman had called and
Whispered things to Molly Brown,
The atmosphere began to change,
He'd said, they 'put her down.'
Then little Amy Pearson
Began to fret and cry,
When Inkerman had called on her,
The neighbors asked her why?
He'd told her that her husband Jeff
Was sweet on Ellen Tredd,
He'd seen the couple necking
In the trees behind the shed.
Then Mrs. Bartlett snubbed a friend
She'd had for twenty years,
While Mr. Bartlett smashed a glass
And went for old Carstairs,
While Peggy Neap had wandered out
To tend her veggie patch,
To find that it was all dug up
Her vegetables trashed.
Then Gordon almost hit a tree
When heading out to town,
His truck had veered off the track,
The tyres all let down,
It seemed that almost everything
That could was going wrong
In Barton Leas, since Inkerman,
The drifter came along.
One night they held a meeting
In the little village hall,
The place was packed that night
With all the neighbors, wall to wall,
But later, when John Inkerman
Had tried to join the crowd,
He found the doors and windows there
Had been both locked and barred.
The meeting went 'til midnight
Then the neighbors wandered home,
While Inkerman had stopped a few,
Asked what was going down;
'Don't let that worry you, my lad, '
Said Benjamin Tresize,
'You'll find out soon enough! We'd like
To keep it a surprise.'
One night as Inkerman had slept
Beneath a haloed moon,
Dark figures stirred around his house
Moved quietly through the gloom,
From every house in Barton Leas
They issued in the mist,
On every face a coloured mask,
A blade in every fist.
The screams were truly terrible
That night in Barton Leas,
As in they filed and, one by one
Ignored the drifter's pleas,
And every blade was bloodstained
When they filed on out the door,
That not one would be guilty;
As good neighbors, they would share.
The villagers of Barton Leas
Are friendly, never dull,
Their pub has gained an ornament
That looks quite like a skull,
And Peggy Neap grows veggies
That when cooked, just fall apart,
So succulent, they're fertilized
By a drifter's heart.
15 March 2009
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