Beef Tea

She never nagged; she never said no word;
But sat an' looked at me an' never stirred.
 I could 'a' bluffed it out if she 'ad been
Fair narked, an' let me 'ave it wiv 'er tongue;
It silence told me 'ow 'er 'eart wus wrung.
Poor 'urt Doreen!
Gorstruth! I'd sooner fight wiv fifty men
Than git one look like that frum 'er agen!

She never moved; she never spoke no word;
That 'urt look in 'er eyes, like some scared bird:
  ' 'Ere is the man I loved,' it seemed to say.
''E's mine, this crawlin' thing, an' I'm 'is wife;
Tied up fer good; an' orl me joy in life
 Is chucked away!'
If she 'ad bashed me I'd 'a' felt no 'urt!
But 'ere she treats me like—like I wus dirt.

'Ow is a man to guard agen that look?
Fer other wimmin, when the'r blokes go crook,
An' lobs 'ome wiv the wages uv a jag,
They smashes things an' carries on a treat
An' 'owls an' scolds an' wakes the bloomin' street
Wiv noisy mag.
But 'er—she never speaks; she never stirs . . .
I drops me bundle . . . An' the game is 'ers.

Jist two months wed! Eight weeks uv married bliss
Wiv my Doreen, an' now it's come to this!
Wot wus I thinkin' uv? Gawd! I ain't fit
To kiss the place 'er little feet 'as been!
'Er that I called me wife, me own Doreen!
Fond dreams 'as flit;
Love's done a bunk, an' joy is up the pole;
An' shame an' sorrer's roostin' in me soul.

'Twus orl becors uv Ginger Mick—the cow!
(I wish't I 'ad 'im 'ere to deal wiv now!
I'd pass 'im one, I would! 'E ain't no man!)
I meets 'im Choosdee ev'nin' up the town.
'Wot O,' 'e chips me. 'Kin yeh keep one down?'
I sez I can.
We 'as a couple; then meets three er four
Flash coves I useter know, an' 'as some more.

''Ow are yeh on a little gamble, Kid?'
Sez Ginger Mick. 'Lars' night I'm on four quid.
Come 'round an' try yer luck at Steeny's school.
'No,' sez me conscience. Then I thinks, 'Why not?
An' buy 'er presents if I wins a pot?
A blazin' fool
I wus. Fer 'arf a mo' I 'as a fight;
Then conscience skies the wipe . . . Sez I 'Orright.'

Ten minutes later I was back once more,
Kip in me 'and, on Steeny Isaac's floor,
Me luck was in an' I wus 'eadin' good.
Yes, back agen amongst the same old crew!
An' orl the time down in me 'eart I knew
I never should . . .
Nex' thing I knows it's after two o'clock
Two in the morning! An' I've done me block!

'Wot odds?' I thinks. 'I'm in fer it orright.'
An' so I stops an' gambles orl the night;
An' bribes me conscience wiv the gilt I wins.
But when I comes out in the cold, 'ard dawn
I know I've crooled me pitch; me soul's in pawn.
My flamin' sins
They 'its me in a 'eap right where I live;
Fer I 'ave broke the solim vow I give.

She never magged; she never said no word.
An' when I speaks, it seems she never 'eard.
I could 'a' sung a nim, I feels so gay!
If she 'ad only roused I might 'a' smiled.
She jist seems 'urt an' crushed; not even riled.
I turns away,
An' yanks me carkis out into the yard,
Like some whipped pup; an' kicks meself reel 'ard.

An' then, I sneaks to bed, an' feels dead crook.
Fer golden quids I couldn't face that look
That trouble in the eyes uv my Doreen.
Aw, strike! Wot made me go an' do this thing?
I feel jist like a chewed up bit of string,
An' rotten mean!
Fer 'arf an hour I lies there feelin' cheap;
An' then I s'pose, I muster fell asleep….

' 'Ere, Kid, drink this' . . . I wakes, an' lifts me 'ead,
An' sees 'er standin' there beside the bed;
A basin in 'er 'ands; an' in 'er eyes
(Eyes that wiv unshed tears is shinin' wet)
The sorter look I never shall ferget,
Until I dies.
' 'Ere, Kid, drink this,' she sez, an' smiles at me.
I looks — an' spare me days! It was beef tea!

Beef tea! She treats me like a hinvaleed!
Me! that 'as caused 'er lovin' 'eart to bleed.
It 'urts me worse than maggin' fer a week!
'Er! 'oo 'ad right to turn dead sour on me,
Fergives like that, an' feeds me wiv beef tea . . .
 I tries to speak;
An' then — I ain't ashamed o' wot I did
I 'ides me face . . . an' blubbers like a kid.

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"Beef Tea" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Oct. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6214/beef-tea>.

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