Mario’s Duck (Malvina Reynolds)

“Mario’s Duck” Sheet Music (pdf).
“Mario’s Duck” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Malvina Reynolds.
Tune: Malvina Reynolds.


Mario had a little pet duck.
He couldn’t afford a dog or a cat.
But a duck needs only scraps to eat,
’Though scraps were his family’s principal meat.
Mario’s father was God knows where.
After drinking, he would stagger in,
Out of work and in despair,
To brood and curse and be gone again.

Mother washed fine clothes every day
For the rich people for little pay.
Seven kids, she raised alone,
And Mario was the youngest one.
This was in Chile some years ago,
When the people were poor as they are now.
Allende tried to change things around.
But the CIA’s junta shot him down.

The story that I am telling you,
It happened in Chile a while ago.
Mario was walking a dusty road,
Looking for rags or scraps of food.
As he was walking along his way,
Some farmer’s duck that had gone astray
Followed him around the bend
And took the boy for his brother and friend.

The farmer laughed and let the duck go,
But Mario’s mother, she said, “Oh, no!
We can’t afford pets in the barrio.”
“But I’ll find his food,” said Mario.
Ev’ryone smiled at the funny two.
The little duck went where the boy would go.
They played all day by the cabin door
And slept on the pallet on the floor.

As if there weren’t troubles to spare,
Alicia got pregnant, Alicia the Fair.
How can she marry with no place to go?
There was no more room in the barrio.
But Mama managed to save them from gloom,
Finding a dress, a ring, and a room.
Two satin sheets that got lost somehow
In the washing became the wedding gown.

The wedding ring was a silver band
That once graced Mamacita’s left hand.
A room was made of boards and tin,
Built onto the hut that they all lived in.
The wedding bouquet was Mario’s find:
Field flowers of every kind,
Pretty and bright and arranged with taste
To hide Alicia’s swelling waist.

What did they have for the wedding feast
For the bride and the guests and the village priest?
Mario’s duck with the feathers gone
Crowned the table, roasted brown!
What a strange wedding they had that day,
Eating and drinking and dancing so gay,
While Mario was crying up in a tree
And throwing rocks at the company.


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