the deputy grunts and returns to his chair
but his gray rebel cap stands up on his hair
a cold blue flame hangs eye-level in air
hissing like a rattlesnake trapped in its lair
the flame retreats to the bars of the cell
the hobo laughs - a hyena from hell!
his lips and his eyeballs begin to swell
as he whispers hoarse "i've a tale to tell
only a tale - i've nothing to sell
it begins with the tolling of a silver bell
over a green and dew-dropped dell"
the deputy answers "i don't feel well"
"i was once a man - a humble one, true
with the high and mighty i had nothing to do
all week i read the testament new
and on sunday i read the old one too
i lectured the low and bowed to the great
i emptied my glass and cleaned my plate
and thanked the lord, both early and late
for giving me such a happy fate
i was deacon of a little church
a bluebird sang from a sunlit perch
in a purple elm beside a snowy birch
when life gave a sudden and terrible lurch"
the wolfman drones on, and on, and on
the deputy nods - he begins to yawn
the jail is a board, he is only a pawn
his eyeballs fade like the moon at dawn
the cell bars twist in the wolfman's claws
his piteous story has come to a pause
his white teeth laugh in his hairy jaws
the sleeping deputy hears applause
the sheriff shakes his head at the dogs dismay
"we'll have to come back at break of day"
mungo clears his throat to say
"i don't think that is at all the right way
this wretch has broken the laws of the town
i will not rest until i've hunted him down
what use for the mayor a martyr's crown
if his killer as escape artist makes his renown?
this is no wayward youth beguiled
on whom temptation has rarely smiled
this is the evil one's favorite child
how can we let such a one run wild?"