Before the Sultan’s Fortress


In the glow of amber twilight,

Dugan, the local Sultan donned

His red fez, with tassel bright

To stroll about the pond,

Before the evening’s curfew ban,

Would ring its final tolls,

Dugan, in his right hand,

As was his habit on these strolls,

Grasped a worn tin-pail,

By its wire-handled arch.

It rocked as if by its tail,

On the Sultan’s forward march.

Dugan briskly onward strode,

Quickening his paces,

Across field, bank and road,

Toward “The Four Aces.”

This pub, from its windows and its door,

Wafted clouds of smoke,

And the fragrance of the wooden floor,

In which stale beer did soak.

The Sultan set his lidded tin,

With a spigot at its base,

Jauntily, beneath the fountain:

Before the Irish Ace.

“Fill’er up O’Shaughnessy

And spare me all the foam.”

Smiled, the Ace, to his majesty

As he filled tin to the dome.

“I’ll not return” The Sultan chirped,

“To the Missus with half a pail,

She’ll think I stopped and sipped,

Somewhere along the trail.”

“There’ll be hell to pay,

So see you take care.

Listen, hear what I say,

O’Shaughnessy. Beware!”

O’Shaughnessy, the Ace,

Always the wily diplomat,

Looked Dugan in the face,

And blessed his shoulder with a pat.

The Ace, he smiled and gently bowed.

He precisely aimed the amber draft.

Milwaukee’s golden Finest, flowed

To please the Sultan, oh so daft.

The barman, with one “bon mot,”

Warned, “Dugan, could it be,

‘Tis broke your tin’s spigot.

You’re watering the trees?”

“The patch through which you’re tottering,

Betwixt the pub and home,

Looks all the better for your watering,

Your ministrations of me foam.”

The Sultan, upon the moistened counter

With a splash and a rebuff

Slapped a shiny silver quarter:

“O’Shaughn, none of your guff.”

“Look here, your price, I did meet.

You’ll be sure I get my due.

Or I’ll take my quarter down the street

And deal with Marylou.”

“Adieu to you O’Shaughnessy.

I’m sure my spigot’s tight,

For home I’ll speed my tin of brew

And to all a pleasant night.”

Dugan tipped his fez to all.

Then skipped with much delight.

He took noticed of the blooms so tall,

Glowing softly in the pale twilight,

“Be buying your own beer, tutt, tutt!

You shamed-faced forget-me-nots.

So tight my spigot’s now been shut,

Against you thieving sots.”

Now onward, Dugan and his tin,

Both dripping of the sweat,

He was now near done in,

And not near home as yet.

He, by the left flank marched,

Up the front path of his estate,

Between a towering spruce and larch

And through the open gate.

Up the bricks, he did track,

Pulling the screen door.

Lest closing, it hit him in the back;

He quickly stepped in before.

Upon frame, the door soon crashed

With a characteristic “swack,”

Against the posts and lintel dashed,

While the spring twanged in its slack.

Upon her wicker rocking chair,

Dugan’s Missus sat enthroned.

She’d set the table, oh so spare.

Chilled mugs, stood all alone.

The tin between the glasses,

The Sultan, he did wedge,

With spigot perpendicular,

To the wicker table’s edge.

Before the spigot, chilled mugs

Curtsied one by one,

Savoring the golden chugs,

As freely beer did run.

Mugs billowing with foamy crowns,

So full of bubbly life,

Then to bow before the laughing lips

Of Dugan and his wife.

A toast, a clink of glass,

A sip, then silent repose,

Upon the wicker furniture to sass,

And maybe soon to dose?

But first the cavalcade of clowns,

Will step beneath the lights…

To drive away the frowns,

The Dugans, to delight.