Poetry

Hoof

 

Under the shade of whose authority

Did I once sit? Cloven feet tucked beneath me

I would laze, chewing on a soup tin and bleating.

 

I have stolen knife-fuls of butter from larders

Delicates from clotheslines and love-trinkets

From kists. I have peered into mouseholes, roused

First by Curiosity’s little invocations

Then Obsession’s shameless demands

And so have undone the honest work of honest people,

Casting mud-clods of doubt at the front doors

Of the thread-cutters and sawbones.

 

Now, as I am guided to the gallows

The women in my family implore me:

REPENT REPENT REPENT

The men of my family command me:

REPENT REPENT REPENT

My feckless ears can only tremble at the sound:

REPENT REPENT REPENT

Heedless and plugged

With coarse hair as they are.

 

Tarred and feathered

Buck-toothed and braying

I make as if to plead

— interrupted

The trapdoor swings open,

A kimono gown, the vivid

Colours of dyed silk, erotic,

Moaning blues and purples

Revealing bronze skin, glistens

Then cawing, long black feathers

Descend in spirals, the rope corrects

The throat, corrects itself, taut,

Plays a final, odd note

The throat corrects itself, taught,

Plays a final, odd note

To the ashen pleasure

Of the small, seething crowd.

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