David Lewis Paget
The Thing in the Tent
We’d all been out to the Carnival,
Had chilled and thrilled and cried,
And Patsy laughed that she’d wet her pants
On the killer Monster Ride,
While Orville’s face was covered in floss
In a pink and sticky goo,
And I limped past the Penny a Toss
With something stuck to my shoe.
I’d won a horrible Voodoo Doll
That I tried to pass to Kate,
She said, ‘No fear, if I took that home
I would just lie there, awake! ’
We’d had our fun on the Octopus
Though the Mouse had made me sick,
And the Big Wheel stopped in a passing cloud
At the height of a laughing fit..
A spider deep in the Ghost Train came
Unstuck in Patsy’s hair,
And Kate had shrieked, for Patsy had
No clue that it was there.
We threw it one to the other, first
To Orville, then to Jack,
But then it landed on some old dear
And gave her a heart attack!
We laughed and pranced and we danced beside
The sideshows – ‘Way to go! ’
But Orville fumbled the rifle and
He shot some guy in the toe,
We had to run but were laughing there
So hard, and fit to bust,
That Richard ruptured himself out there,
And now he’s wearing a truss!
The time it had come to wander home
So we wiped off Orville’s goo,
But I had trouble in walking with
That thing, still stuck to my shoe.
I slid and wiped and I scraped at it
But nothing would make it budge,
Said Jack, ‘Just what do you think it is? ’
I replied, ‘some sort of sludge.’
We got to the edge of the fairground
And the others wandered home,
But I was stuck, I couldn’t move,
I was standing there, alone.
And then my foot had begun to turn
Back to the lights and sound,
I felt myself, being impelled
By my shoe across the ground.
I tried to twist and I tried to turn
But my shoe was saying, ‘No! ’
I had to follow wherever it went,
Wherever it wanted to go.
It took me back through the alleyways
Still lit with a thousand globes,
I felt a bit like a Brahman Bull
With a steel ring through my nose.
It dragged my foot through the mud and slush
And the other followed too,
I didn’t have much of a choice, I thought
As long as I wore the shoe,
It led me in to a darkened tent
With a dais, up on high,
Where a shadow sat in an old top hat
With a single gleaming eye.
The shadow opened its mouth to speak
And its teeth were long and sharp,
‘What have you brought me now to eat,
Some dross you found in the park? ’
The voice was deep, was a muffled growl
And it shook the earthen floor,
The shoe was dragging me forward as
I turned for the flap of a door.
I felt a wrench and the shoe came off
So I hopped and ran like mad,
The growl of the shadow had freaked me out,
It had to be more than bad!
My father gave me a hiding when
He found that I’d lost my shoe,
He wouldn’t listen when I exclaimed:
‘You would have lost it, too! ’
Next day the shoe was sat at my door
Its prints deep pressed in the lawn,
I couldn’t have put that shoe back on
If the Devil had blown his horn.
I took a stick and I picked it up
And dropped it straight in the bin,
I couldn’t go near a Carnival now,
I’m too attached to my skin!
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
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