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The Old Paper Mill

(Contains animal suffering some might find upsetting)

Early 1950's a summer hot and long,
Soft warm rain sticky nights the heat goes on and on.
An old man in his rocking chair they said he'd passed away,
He was bitten by a rat you know but they didn't like to say.
A mother cried my baby! as a rat leapt from the pram,
It went for the smell of the milk I suppose but it bit the child, O' d*mn!
A dear old lady's rickety cat he was plump he was bold he was mean,
Attacked by a pack of hungry rats, I won't describe the scene.
There were certain streets you wouldn't want to walk at all at nights,
Where shadows ran
And scuffled and screeched 'neath the glow of the old gas lights.
Terraced houses narrow streets all close to the mill yard wall,
Rank bales of old waste paper standing ten feet tall.
Swarms of flies damp and heat a vermin's breading ground,
At night this place would come alive with a screeching rustling sound.
The paper yard didn't end at the mill it was half a mile square,
With a chain-link fence all around with holes in it everywhere.
There were rats in all the gardens rats in the cellars too,
Someone even found a rat hiding in an outside loo.
With all the heat the flies and stench there were people falling sick,
And so the time had come to act swift and hard and quick.
It became an epidemic but no Pied Piper came,
But just some men with special dogs who knew to play this game.
They started early one morning with the night just barely gone,
The day was bright and all was calm the game was truly on.
There must have been at least forty men with two or three dogs each,
All spread around the outside fence as far as the eye could reach.
A whistle blew the dogs let loose I can't forget that day,
There was not a rat that stood a chance in this game they couldn't play.
Men with sticks and knee high boots pitch-forks whistles blew,
I was just a kid gripping the fence watching things I'd never knew.
I'd never seen so many rats they were even fighting back,
But they were no equal fighting match to this ravaging dog attack.
Just one bite and they were broke and simply tossed aside,
There was no place in this theatre of doom where any rat could hide.
I just felt numb I couldn't move the noise was so intense,
There were rats running wild everywhere and trying to jump the fence.
But very soon a huge pile formed of twitching muffled cries,
Broken body's still alive adorned by swarming flies.
After not so many hours all fell quite calm and still,
The dogs were tired they'd done their job that day at the paper mill.
Heaps of rats as tall as a man were doused with kerosene,
They emptied the cans then struck a match, I can't forget that scene.
I'm sure I heard their souls cry out as those tall flames licked the sky,
My memory still recalls that day 1950's hot July.

TjHatton 15/08/13.

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Submitted on February 28, 2014

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:47 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic heptameter
Characters 2,801
Words 541
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 1, 45, 1

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