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Bridge and the Ballad
of Beppo the Bear
By John "Bridge" Martin
Ed Burroughs wrote a tale about "The Mucker," Billy Byrne,
Who met a hobo name of Bridge while living his "Return,"
When Billy finally found true love the two took separate roads,
As Bridge continued wanderin' with poetry and odes.
Yes Bridge was fond of rhymin' lines to occupy his
And they were often focused on the love he hoped he'd find.
He didn't know her name back then but in his mind he'd see
The one whom he, poetically, called sweet Penelope.
He found the name "Out There Somewhere" amidst a hobo
And caught a vision of a lass who'd make her heart his home,
Somehow he thought he'd find her in the sweet and sunny south
With buds of roses in her hair and kisses on her mouth.
But when he finally came across the one who was so
She wore a soft checked cap instead of flowers in her hair,
Her form was hid by clothing that a chauffeur might have worn,
And yet her essence sparkled as a sunny summer morn.
He quickly saw that essence though she’d tried to keep
By dressing in the fashion of The Oskaloosa Kid.
And once she teamed with Bridge they worked in unison to thwart
The dangers posed by lewdish “fellows of the baser sort.”
And after going through a time of peril, stress and
He won the right to look into her eyes and call her dear,
But that's another story, and it's one most folks have read,
As Bridge and Abigail hung onto life, though good as dead,
So after great adventures that were often hit and miss,
The story finally ended with a love-fulfilling kiss.
Though Burroughs didn't tell us all the whens and wheres and hows,
We're pretty sure that Bridge and Abigail recited vows.
And then, a merry saraband and blissful honeymoon,
Perhaps where breakers gently kiss a sandy Blue Lagoon.
And afterward more wedded bliss in, oh, let's call it Oakdale,
Where they'd sometime reflected on the past and all its travail.
And Bridge would happ'ly entertain his sweet and loving
With his own rhymes about the roads they'd traveled in their life.
And now we see them sitting in the garden's wicker chairs,
As Bridge reads her a poem he's written 'bout a friend of theirs:
He didn't understand us; he didn't seem to care,
But we, said Bridge, survived because of Beppo -- yes, that bear.
We'll prob'ly never really know just how there came to be
This dancing bear who entertained the townsfolk for a fee.
Its trainer was a wanderin' man who fought and killed
A fitting definition of "A Man without a Soul,"
But he was good to Giova, the daughter by his side,
And he was good to Beppo (any less was suicide).
But in this strange relationship the bear was forced
A simple entertainer for a paying crowd to see;
Bring on the bear, the people'd shout, so we can watch a trick,
They'd laugh and make that clapping noise as Beppo did his schtick.
Giova kept the bear content with nightly treks to town
To raid the cans of garbage that were easy to be found
Where it would scavenge sustenance to keep its hunger damped
And then she'd lead it back to where the family was encamped.
But dad was not a healthy man and subject to the fits,
Which often would possess him and becloud his very wits;
One stormy night while scavenging a vacant dwelling place,
A deadly seizure knocked him flat -- he'd run his final race.
The bear had no instructions, but 'twas something made
To guard the silent body in its own primeval way.
We hid out in another room, and heard its grunts and gait,
As Beppo, in the hallways, was the master of our fate.
Giova found the both them and brought her dad's remains
Out to the woods as Beppo walked along while dragging chains.
Next day we happened on them, and we learned the truth at last,
That Beppo was a big brown bear on which our fate was cast.
Though leery of the beast our group continued on its
From those who sought to do us wrong, perhaps that very night.
And weary of our run we found an old abandoned mill
And slept within -- but, stealthily they came to make their kill.
At once they jumped upon us, wielding blows and kicks
But 'cross the room the bear broke loose: Charge of the fright brigade.
"That Beppo, he go mad," resounded Giova's sharp cry:
“He kill ever'one, for Beppo, he got evil-eye!”
Well, evil eye he may have had, but something made
Not after us but only for the ones who sought our woe.
He flattened Dirty Eddie, who was kicking me when down,
And struck Columbus Blackie when he had you on the ground.
Just who that bear'd of turned on next is now a mystery,
For cops showed up and quickly brought an end to the melee;
Two shots were fired and Beppo dropped; his end was quick and clean,
What once was terror on four legs was now ursine serene.
The roundup of the suspects was achieved efficiently,
The only sounds now heard were voices of authority.
But next to Bridge and Abigail beneath the stars above,
Giova sobbed, "He ver' bad bear...but all I have to love."
Bridge read his poem to Abigail then slipped it in
And tried his best to never mind the thickness in his throat.
And life went on and both enjoyed the mem'ries they would share,
Of intrigue, love and danger, thanks to Beppo – yes, that bear.
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