Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Rhymers Club


On a Friday night at the Rhymers Club
They meet at the Gun & Whale,
They take a seat and they all compete
By telling the tallest tale,
They vote whenever the night is done
For which was the best, and worst,
But all agree that the best, you see,
Must always be told in verse.

There’s Sean McGee, with tales of the sea
In the days of the Cutty Sark,
When sails were billowing wide and free
And men kept watch in the dark,
For deep beneath the Atlantic swell
Was a squid, the size of a ship,
With tentacles that could wrap round tight
And make it their final trip.

Dan O’Dwyer, told of the sky and the
Lights that were seen offshore,
They hung in space, not moved a trace
Though they hung for an hour or more,
Then a coastal cutter rose from the sea
In a widening beam of light,
Taking with it the coast guard crew,
Of Brendan, Seamus and Dwight!

That brought a laugh, for the crew he named
Had once been Rhymers before,
Then Dwight and Seamus were lost at sea,
Though Brendan sat at the bar,
He’d told no tales since that dreadful night
When his shipmates both were lost,
But answered only in two brief words,
His mates had been ‘tempest-toss’d’.

‘‘Ten parts pissed’ if I know those two, ’
Said Tomas behind his hand,
‘A quart of whiskey, a quart of gin,
Better they’d stayed on land! ’
But Brendan heard, and his face was grim
As he wandered back from the bar,
‘If you want to know what happened that night
It’ll cost each man a jar.’

He quaffed a pint of his Guiness Stout
Before he could even begin,
‘The night was lit by a pale moonlight,
And the cutter lay on its beam.
A light came down like an arc of white
We seemed to be climbing a stair,
It only took a second or two
And suddenly, we were there! ’

‘Alone in a rolling countryside
And stood at the base of a hill,
A sparkling stream of water there,
At the base, a rippling rill,
But Dwight, I swear, was as white as white,
And then he muttered a curse:
‘That river flows from the rill down there
And up the hill, in reverse! ’

‘Then out of the silence came a voice,
So feminine, soft and fine:
‘All of your past is flowing there,
That is the River of Time.
Should you be searching for hidden truth,
And youth, just step in the stream
The years will pass like blades of grass
For nothing is what it seems.’

Brendan paused and he took a draught,
And sighed in a kind of dread,
‘You think that Seamus and Dwight were lost,
You think they’re both of them dead!
They both stepped into that whirling stream
Though I was too scared to try,
I watched their years, tumble and fall,
And now I can only cry.’

‘And now I can only cry, ’ he said
‘For the years I could have had yet,
If only I’d had more courage then,
One chance is all that you get.
And now those two are the ten-year-olds
You can see out riding their bikes,
Out in the front of the Gun & Whale,
They laugh at me, every night! ’

The Rhymers rushed to the windows there
And saw two boys in the dark,
Riding around the Pepper tree
And then, off into the park.
So Tomas read out the Rhymers creed
Like all of them, pale and white,
‘It goes to Brendan, we’re all agreed,
The tallest tale of the night! ’

22 April 2013

Submitted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 27, 2013

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