Many, many years ago
Johnny Pliers ran from home
He settled underneath a bridge
‘til hunger, cold and fear set in.
As the snow was melting fast
he felt a tickle in his heart,
but prayed the lord his soul would keep
despite the pain that plagued his feet.
He watched the water ebb on rock
as seagulls pecked shellfish in flocks,
and then a stranger passed close by
did see the figure, ‘how there?’ did cry.
He approached poor Johnny in the sand
the stranger came and asked the lad,
if he would share some bread and stock
fresh prepared in cauldron pot.
But Johnny blanched upon temptation;
he spied red skin upon his patron,
was this true generosity
or a devil risen from the sea?
He threw a stone back at the man
whose soup can sloshed as he ran,
cursing Johnny’s ungrateful manner
left lonely wondering was this in error?
Later as the stars were twinkling
grumbling guts and tide was slipping,
came Peter Face, John’s oldest friend
with quilt and coat for him to lend.
But Johnny swore that he did spy
a tail swish on the boy’s backside,
he shouted loud and waved him back
fearing to climb in satan’s sack.
Peter turned and headed home
wished himself he’d never come
stuck fingers to the pious fool
who shivered, lonely, bitter cold.
As midnight bells did softly chime
his head in hands, tears couldn’t dry
a voice awoke him from his grief
his father stood to broker peace;
‘Come my son, this needn’t be
no need to run and hide from me’
but yellow horns, John thought he saw
an evil sign of demon spawn.
So Johnny grabbed his stout wood stick
and beat the man who’d tried to trick
and as he watched his father run
was sure that this was right he’d done.
Hungry, cold in shaking fright
Poor Johnny wept and starved all night
And there he froze and slowly died
His soul he hoped would heaven fly.
Roy Smith 2009