Uncle Fred was a star on a tightrope.
He came home every day and skipped across -
Thirty feet up, without a safety net,
Above the back yards between the houses -
The swaying chasm spread before our roof.
Risking all, in any kind of weather,
He shone with elegance like Fred Astaire.
At first the neighbours applauded and cheered
(Wives lay awake in their delicious dreams),
But very soon such admiration waned.
‘Too clever by half”, ‘too big for his boots’,
Began to be heard. Husbands were jealous.
One day they cornered him, behind the pub,
And beat him close to the edge of his life.
Once recovered, Fred jacked the tightrope in;
As the nail that stood up, he was banged down.
He became just like everybody else:
Standing guard, for the first sign of trouble.