THE INN AT THE END OF A LIFE
The sign at the inn swung like a gallows,
the light lay low on the heath.
Old Ben was in his settle
sucking baccy through his teeth.
Puddles formed on the flagstones
where a one - eyed dog stood watch;
underneath a ragged sky
the inn was dark as a crotch,
except for a fire - lit window
that glowed like a winter star,
through which a cluster of faces took in
a man who stood at the bar.
They surrounded the place with pistols drawn
in the blackest of capes under the eaves
that dripped and dripped like widow's tears
from their hats and from their sleeves.
The man at the bar wore a coat and sword,
his hair held tight in a lavish bow,
all about him was still with fear,
like the shadows behind his back.
And in that silence that marks despair
he sensed his luck was running short,
and crossed himself with a muttered prayer
as the thought of a maiden's loving sport.
The swordsman turned and left the inn,
not single word he'd uttered,
and in the draught a candle went out,
"good riddance," the barman muttered.
And so into the reckless night
they took him far across the moor,
this royalist they so despised
to face the bastard common law.