Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Valley of Discontent


He gazed at me with his rheumy eyes,
‘You think that you’re getting old!
You’ll not go travel that lonely valley
Until your bones are cold.’
His voice was like the sound of a rasp
Bubbling up through his chest,
And his claw-like hands reached out for mine
As I backed away from his desk.

‘I see that you won’t come close to me
And I can’t blame you for that,
This body holds a corrupted soul
That’s caught, like a drowning rat.
I tasted sin ‘til I’d had my fill
When I once was young, like you,
I’m twice as old as you think I am
At a hundred and twenty two.’

I took a further step from his desk
And I let his words sink in,
I’d known that he was a billionaire
But not that he’d tasted sin.
‘They told me you had the answers, you
Could steer me to great success! ’
‘I could, but given your chances, you
Should probably aim for less.’

‘I aimed as high as I thought I could
But life only gave me gruel,
I wanted to rise as high as the rest
But the lack of success was cruel,
They passed me by for promotion while
The idiots by me flew,
I watched them counting their bonuses
While the ones that I got were few.’

‘So envy lies at the heart of it,
You think it’s better with wealth,
You only can spend a part of it
What you really need is health,
Your cheeks are ruddy, your eyes are bright
You can walk in the winter rain,
While I sit crippled with untold wealth
In a body that’s racked with pain.’

‘But you’ve been able to buy the best
In a long and a fruitful life,
While I’ve been able to give much less
At home, to my loving wife.’
‘At least your woman has stayed by you,
She hasn’t been fired by greed,
She’s more content than the wives I knew
Who wanted more than they need.’

‘I don’t have even a single friend, ’
He said, with a misty eye,
‘But plenty of greedy hangers-on
Who are waiting for me to die.
I wasn’t warned when I signed the form
In blood, that the heart grows cold,
That even the love of my children then
Could only be bought with gold.’

He shuffled the papers on his desk
And pushed one across to me,
‘Just sign on the bottom line in blood
And you’ll have everything you see.’
I looked at his ancient, withered form,
At the lines in his face of woe,
Thought of my wife and children, then:
‘I think I’d better just go! ’

29 September 2013

Submitted: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Edited: Monday, September 30, 2013

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