Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Bears on the Stair


I sit at night in a darkened room
And rest my eyes from the glare,
The mirror’s cracked in the hallway, and
Another’s cracked by the stair,
I see myself in a thousand shards
Where none of the pieces fit,
I can’t put myself together again
Since I fell in the Devil’s pit.

My wife lies up in the bedroom, but
She’ll never come down the stairs,
She said she’s scared of the squares and lines,
Would hate to step on the bears,
I used to tell her they wouldn’t bite
Until she said I was sick,
I’d drowned the puppies by candlelight
And beat the cat with a stick.

Each night, I listen for heartbeats
That go tick, and then they stop,
She said she’d go when the Holy Ghost
Came in to wind up the clock,
She sleeps with her left eye open, sees
Each shadow that moves on the wall,
And screams while I, with my eyes reply
‘The shadows are after us all.’

The last time I can remember that
I mounted that set of stairs,
She went for me with a carving knife,
I haven’t been up for years.
I hear her calling to ‘Come on up! ’
In a voice that’s like a chime,
But lie well hid in the music room
From the scene of that bloody crime.

Whenever the Bobbies are round about
Outside in the gaslight flare,
I lock the windows and bar the doors
And tremble under a chair,
I douse the candle and hold my breath
When I hear their footsteps stop,
And wait for the Black Maria, and
The rope and the sudden drop.

One night they’ll beat on the old oak door,
I know they’ll be coming soon,
They’ll hear the wife scream ‘Murder! ’ from
The depths of her darkened room,
And when they do I shall let them in
And point the way to the stairs,
For then they’ll step on the lines, and may
Be eaten up by the bears.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

19 June 2013

(Lines and Squares by A.A. Milne

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, 'Bears,
Just look how I'm walking in all the squares! ')

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