Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When the guillotine was first invented
it served a purpose I suppose
until the crowd became too addicted
to the Executioner’s absence
then anyone was eligible to bow before a hungry audience

It had the appeal all great inventions have
of provision,
immediate and satisfactory,
Just say the word and the deed is done.

No middle aged man looking out the back window at the axe in the stump
near a stack of firewood,
swelling with remorse over a secret occupation he could never speak of
to the kids.
“It’s just a job” he would say to the wife
“I’ll stop at the market on the way home.”

Only now with all this time on his hands
is he able to finally count the heads.
Especially the ones who turned slightly to the side
looked up at him from the corner of their eye
and asked for a second chance.

Other gods

He climbs the steps
with a quiet reverence,
an offering
held carefully in the jaw
and lays the sacrifice at the top of the alter
then slowly backs away.

In the morning the deity screams
and is unpleased,
sweeping the carrion
from the path of unrelenting worshipers.

And so he seeks the adulation of other gods
whose temples fill the city block
with portals ready made
for hungry vagabonds such as he
to come and go as they please.
To eat and drink
and even dream.

But there is no respite for his prey
who cower behind the blades of grass
or the closed curtain
holding perfectly still
hoping the zealots
will stay away from the back porch
with their brochures.