A Tale Of Woe

What’s going on inside the head,
Of that man over there, who looks half dead?
He’s been in the pub for over an hour,
Just nursing a half, in his ivory tower.

He glared at me, when I sat down,
I flashed a smile but he could only frown.
“Life’s too short” I felt like saying,
But changed my mind when I saw him praying.

He’d taken a bible from under the table
And gripped it quite firmly, as if unstable.
The next thing I knew, he began to mumble
The words spilling out in a biblical jumble.

His voice getting louder, I started to wonder
If it would be me to be cast asunder.
I got up to move and then he shouted:
“Don’t worry son, it’s not you I doubted!”

“The voices I hear, the ones in my head,”
“They say “Give us this day our daily bread” ”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind” he said, leaning back in his seat,
“But I’m celiac … so I can’t eat wheat!”

“I’ve had it with rice cakes, tofu and whey”
“I crave biscuits and rolls and two white rounds a day”
I laughed and then said “They serve rounds in here!”
“Don’t get lippy” he snapped, with a miserable sneer.

“Oh cheer up, mate … it might never happen”
But it was too late, for his hands were a-clappin’.
“You think that you’re clever, but really you’re not”
He said with a grimace, his nose running with snot.

As he wiped it away with the back of his sleeve,
He added “Fuck off away and just leave me to grieve”
His eyes told me all that I needed to know …
And I realised at last that his tale was of woe.

“I’m sorry” I started but he cut me quite short.
“It’s alright, just leave it” he said with a snort.
“My wife’s dead five years now, but I’ll never recover”
“I loved her so much – there was never another”

“Day after day I try and drink to forget”
“But all I can do is look back with regret”
He looked at me then, awaiting the question:
“Why d’you say that?” It was time for confession …

“Cos I done ‘er in” he said, lowering his voice.
“She was dying with cancer and gave me no choice”
“She said “Do it quickly – I can’t take it no more!”
“So I took out a knife from our kitchen drawer”.

“Before she could speak, she slumped back on the bed”
“Not knowing that poison was what she’d just been fed”
The man then did likewise, and let out a sigh.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked, as he started to cry.

“Make it a pint, if you don’t mind”
“You’re not so bad … in fact you’re very kind”
He smiled at me now, as if all’s forgiven,
And supped on his drink, saying “Life is for living!”

His whole face lit up and he sat there beaming.
It was then that I knew all along he’d been scheming.
“I think you just conned me” I said with a smile.
He answered: “Yeah, but didn’t I do it with style?”

So next time you see someone looking quite glum,
Think twice before offering your services, chum.
For you never know what’s cooking inside,
So all I can tell you is just “Woe betide!”


old man with pint

















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