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Richard Griffin




Oh, there was a man with a brass Adam’s apple,
Who one morning entered the moss-covered chapel.
The sexton, he stood near the pulpit so green;
His face was unwashed and not fit to be seen;
He stuttered, he muttered, he talked through his hat,
He sang like a bat and he coughed up a rat.
The fleas from this rat scattered all through the chapel,
And ate up the man with the brass Adam’s apple.

Oh! there was a man with a celluloid throat
Who once sailed along in a little green boat;
His wife, she was troubled with ossified liver;
Her thumb, it was pierced with a sharp oaken sliver.
Now this sliver, this liver, this boat and this throat,
Were at last swallowed up by a petrified goat.

Oh, there was a man with a lop-sided ear-drum;
It caused him to swagger, he was quite a queer bum.
He swaggered so much it affected one eyelid,
And everyone laughed at whatever this guy did.
At least he decided, this life’s but a bubble,
Then jumped down a well, and so ended his trouble.

Oh, there was a man with a mangy mustache,
Whose nostrils were spotted with green nettle-rash;
His left arm was swelled to a horrible size;
He stretched up his right hand and scratched out his eyes;
He tore out his heart, he gulped and he sighed;
He burst all apart, and we fear he has died.

Oh, there was a man who harangued a large crowd;
His gestures were awkward, his howlings were loud;
He injured one tonsil, he twisted one wrist-joint;
So into his mouth we inserted a sharp point.
And being quite sick of his shouts at the rabble
We cut out his tongue, and that finished his gabble.

Oh, there was a man, who when living down South cursed,
Then dared to sing hymns without washing his mouth first.
This shocked all the neighbors so much that they grabbed him;
And being hard up, and requiring cash,
They fried him in butter and sold him for hash.

Oh, there was a man who stole forty-eight dollars,
Investing the same in six cats with green collars.
And wanting some dishes, he bought six tin milk cans.
This extra expense made him steal twenty silk fans.
Now, fearing his conduct not quite on the level,
He blew out his brains and then went to the Devil.


Put on your thinking cap,
          Scorn your notched ear lobe.
Go run another lap—
          What a botched queer globe!

Get out your rifle, Mike,
          Slide in a cartridge,
Go to the Devil’s Dike,
          Bring down a partridge.

Sweep off the Persian rugs,
Shake out the buggy bugs,
Buy up the bunch of jugs,
Pull out their wooden plugs.

Slip down from Saiway Frith,
Come into Galway with
Me. Climb the Hill of Tara
Where the great Mike O’Hara
During a frightful blizzard
Cut out the lobster’s gizzard,
          (Or tried to do it.)
          How he did rue it!

Michael, be steadfast, sure,
          Don’t wear a mask,
Do take the Keely cure,
          Stick to your task.
Think of that mighty Wizard
          Don’t mind your trouble,
Think of the lobster’s gizzard,
          Blow out your bubble.

Michael was thinking hard
          Deep in the thicket,
Kinking the slinking card
          Close to the wicket.

          What makes that clinking?
Why does he clinch his fist,
          What means this blinking?
Everything leading to
          Oh, such a dreadful stress,
Something all pleading, new,
          Fresh to my rim rams, yes.

Enter the lizard.
Now comes the Wizard,
Now for the wonderful
          Seer. He appears
Spouting his thunderful
Voice at Mike’s ears,
Saying, “Great Michael
          Don’t be a Flunky
Compass the cycle
          All hunky dunky.

Never expect good luck
’Til from the core you pluck
One bleeding gizzard pop
Forth from the lobster’s crop.

          Hurriedly hobble it.
          Rapidly gobble it.
Always remember me,
          Get out your sling.
Study the apple tree
          Late in the spring,
When plunk upon the trunk
          You see your lizard,
Look sharp, there is your hunk,
          Ominous gizzard!
Up in the apple tree
          There waits your lobster.
Farewell and think of me
Don’t fail your Slobster.”

Thus spoke the thunderful
          Voice from the cycle,
Oh, what a wonderful
          Fortune, dear Michael.

Oh, what a fearful creak
          Let the Earth shock.
Sneak off, thou Wizard, sneak
          Into thy rock.

Michael is left alone
          Scratching his chin all soup.
Rubbing his funny bone,
          Don’t be a Nincompoop.

Mike, yank some other prize,
          Heed not the Wizard.
Take my advice, be wise,
          Avoid the lizard.

Quick! run another mile
          Out of the wreck,
Come in and have a smile,
          Do wash your neck,
Anything, anything,
          Only be cheerful,
Don’t hail the Ding Ding
          Wagon so fearful.

Mike rubs his funny bone,
Prowling about alone,
          Searching from tree to tree.
Now comes the blizzard.
          Michael all eager, he
Looks for the gizzard.
Michael, the great O’Hara,
Climbs up the Hill of Tara,
Where the Harp famous once
Twang. Now this foolish dunce,
Trusting the wicked Wizard,
Looks for the lobster’s gizzard.

Wind, snow and blinding hail
Pour down the mountain dale.
Oh, what a dreadful gale
Slaps Michael with its flail.

Weak kippered Jackass,
          Looking for boodle,
This withered slack ass,
          Noodle and poodle
Falls in the trap,
Hell’s own flip flap.
Death chops the door
          Sneaking all hidden.
Hell shows its claw
          Grim and forbidden.

What means this thud
Sickening, harsh?
Mike in the mud
          Deep in the marsh,
Troubled with cramps
Sinks to his lamps.

          Poor Mike
          Can’t hike.
He sputters and chokes,
He curses the hoax.
Forgetting the lizard
He curses the Wizard.

Oh, vile phantom gizzard!
Fierce raging the blizzard
Stirs up the thick mud
Around with a thud.

Mike over his head
On nothing doth tread.
The Devil, his keeper,
Now pokes him down deeper
In filthy black mush
His mouth full of slush.

Mike, covered entire,
Is deep in the mire.
And still the life lingers.
The struggling fingers
Rise out of the slush.
But now look—hush, hush!

Mike sputters for breath
And now—welcome Death!
The fingers stop wiggling,
No desperate wriggling.
Now—now beyond doubt
The Fiend has won out.

The King of the blizzard
Triumphant—the Wizard
Now laughs at the lizard.
That fake lobster’s gizzard
Comes in for its joke.
Oh, why did Mike choke.
Oh, why did he croak.
Unfortunate Bloke!
Oh, why did he croak
Poor Bloke, oh Poor Bloke!

RICHARD GRIFFIN, born 1857, remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He lived in New York City, worked as a stage actor, served in the Army, spied for the U.S. during World War One, and developed an affection for vinegerones during a stint in Texas. He self-published nine books of poems and seems to have disappeared sometime in the 1930s.

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Bill Zavatsky - Richard Griffin, The Bughouse Poet

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