The Ballad of Sweet Donna Lee
By Everett Patterson CC ‘06
Draw hither, my brethren, and listen to me;
I’ll sing you the Ballad of Sweet Donna Lee
The saddest of ballads shall leave you in tears,
So sit on your asses, and lend me your ears.
T’was nary two weeks and a fortnight ago
That we all didst behear of this tale of woe
Whose rumor did fly like a dandelion spore
Through the halls of our school on th’Fair Hudson Shore
In Carman lived Maxwell, a fine freshman boy
Whom Cupid and Venus conspired to destroy
And their arrows of passion stuck deep in his heart
Like a poisonous, venomous, poisonous dart
O Max, whom to death Aphrodite hath led,
Would that I had thy fate than to see thee thus dead
To have loved and then lost is the best kind of strife,
But she didn’t love you, and you lost: your life
Thy puddles of tears tied a noose round thy neck-
Get on with the story? Just give me a sec-
I’m setting the mood here, and then I’ll proceed
With the miserable Ballad of Sweet Donna Lee
Max went out one day, when the skies were so blue,
He saw folks saying “hi,” saying “how do you do?”
And he thought to himself “what a wonderful world;
How I wish I could hook up with some random girl”
He remembered he had to buy books for a class,
So set out for that edifice, concrete and glass,
Like a Titan o’erlooking th’Fair Hudson Shore,
In the basement of which was a book-selling store
He descended those stairs, but he just might as well
Have descended the stairs to the bowels of Hell,
For there, with security guards congregated
The furies and fates by whom Maxwell was fated.
At the counter he saw her, selling some books
She worked at the register, selling the books
The name on her nametag was Francis Dupuis
But they called her, for some reason, Sweet Donna Lee
Her cheek and her lips were a fine crimson hue
And her eyes were a shade of the most verdant blue
And her hair shone with rays of the most verdant sheen
And her ears were like gems of a deep azure green
A great swell of music arose in his breast
His heart, like an alien, leapt from his chest
His soul, like a joy-bomb, exploded with joy
At that moment, gladdest of all freshman boys.
“O who is this beautiful goddess?” he cried
“This emblem of beauty confronting my eyes?
O who is this Helen? O who this Adonis?
Oh, wait, that’s a guy. I meant this… Madonna.”
So he screwed up his courage and waited in line
With some things he had never intended to buy
With the hopes of approaching this delicate flower
He stood there in line for 56 hours
In the first week of classes, the lines are quite long,
So he passed the time writing a beautiful song
To be sung to that girl who instilled him glee
And he called it that Ballad of Sweet Donna Lee
All day and all night then, his thoughts dwelt on love,
As a minister’s thoughts dwell on heaven above
And an ornithologist’s thoughts dwell on doves
And a guy who makes gloves’s thoughts dwell on gloves.
But when Max reached yon counter, his mouth was sealed shut
His lips pressed as tight as British Guard’s butt,
His tongue tied in knots that had never existed
Like twisty-bag ties when they’re overly twisted.
When she flashed him her chompers, he couldn’t respond
He just gaped like a gerbil, his confidence gone
When she asked “Are you paying with cash or with flex?”
He knew, at that moment, they’d never have sex
….er, I mean fall in love. He knew then that their love could never exist, y’know?
He left that dread bookstore a sad, broken man
With a copy of “War in Medieval Japan”
And some souvenir mugs and Columbia pencils,
And various similar cheap non-essentials.
“Alas,” bellowed Maxwell, “how cruel is my fate!
To be haplessly silenced after so long a wait!
How am I expected to woo or to dote
When my words, like popcorn, get caught in my throat?”
“O discomfort supreme; I am vexed and frustrated!
Why’d she have to go and make things so complicated?”
He knew what to do; he could stand it no more
He would cast himself off of th’Fair Hudson Shore
So he wended hi way out towards Riverside Park,
His humors were bilious, physiognomy dark
He walked across Broadway, his countenance drab,
But he didn’t look first, and was hit by a cab.
My brethren, I found myself once in the backseat
Of the man who was driving that very same taxi
Named Jacob Mohammed Siddhartha O’Sherman
Whose race and religion could not be determined.
“Mustafa,” he told me, “you know what he said?
In those pitiful moments before he was dead?
His very last words, which whispered to me, were:
“Help, I’m dying! I’m bleeding to death! CAVA!
Where the fuck is CAVA?! They’re just two blocks away!”
But just before that, his penultimate words
Was the saddest of Ballads that’s ever been heard
Shut up now, my Brethren, I’ll rap them at thee-
I’ll sing you the Ballad of Sweet Donna Lee.