David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
The Mouth of the Oracle
She’d slammed the door as he’d turned to say:
‘I know where I don’t belong! ’
Then swallowed hard as he headed out
To find where his life went wrong.
He’d not been happy for many years
So this was a final twist,
‘Just pack your bags and get out, ’ she’d said,
‘I can’t take much more of this! ’
‘Of what? ’ he thought, for he didn’t know
It was written all over his face,
The love he’d offered and taken back
He’d never thought much of Grace.
He never smiled when he came back home,
She waited in vain, at best,
He’d just come back from the world out there
And he always came back depressed.
He tried to remember the dreams he’d had
And the schemes that he’d hatched before
Bidding farewell to his parents house
With the rules taped over the door,
You can’t do this and you must do that
Was a theme that he’d come to hate,
When his father said he’d relax the rules
John said: ‘It’s a bit too late! ’
He thought his freedom the greatest thing
He could drink and smoke with the rest,
Spend the night with a dolly bird
Who would leave in the morning, dressed,
But he found he couldn’t hold down a job
By sleeping in way past noon,
Ran out of money and cigarettes
And his freedom turned to gloom.
He’d married young to a working wife
So the bills were always paid,
She tried to get him to work, but he
Had treated her like a maid,
She kept the house while he lounged about,
Went out and hung with his friends,
His opportunities squandered, though
He said that he’d make amends.
But now, he needed an Oracle
To tell him the facts of life,
He thought there must be a secret in
Appeasing an angry wife,
He knew of one at the waterfront
At least it was billed as such,
An Octopus in a giant tank
But it cost a dollar a touch.
You slipped your dollar into the slot,
It slid back an iron door,
A placard on the back of the tank
Said, ‘What did you come here for? ’
A row of buttons were there to press
Said ‘Love’, ‘Romance’ or ‘Fate’,
‘Job Promotion’ or ‘Lotto Wins’
But the season was getting late.
They’d closed the show in the week before
So he had to climb the fence,
He clutched the only dollar he had
And crawled in, under a bench,
The Giant Pacific Octopus sat
And stared through the misting glass,
Then watched him sliding the dollar in
And pressing the word ‘Romance’.
At this the Octopus tentacles
Had begun to writhe about,
Helped by a tiny electric charge
The ‘Romance’ button gave out,
A tentacle hit a pressure pad
That released a little card,
One with a potted saying, as if
The Oracle had heard.
The card said, ‘Better to love, and lose
Than never to love at all! ’
John punched the glass in frustration then,
So much for an Oracle!
The glass then suddenly cracked and burst,
Releasing a waterspout,
And seven tentacles wrapped him round
As the Octopus swam out.
The eighth was wrapping around his neck
As he tried to fight and hide,
But eight to two isn’t much of a match
With your arms pinned by your side,
He felt the beak of the giant beast
As it took a chunk from his throat,
There wasn’t the time to cry on out
As he fell to the ground, and choked.
A fisherman saw it loping along
On the boardwalk, out to the sea,
Dragging a pair of empty shoes,
And a hand with wallet and key,
His wife said he was a waste of space
Wouldn’t go to the funeral,
‘He found his calling at last, ’ she said,
‘In the mouth of the Oracle! ’
30 March 2013
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.