Tom Long hangman

if I drink don’t blame me    it’s

me occupation    they call me hangman

with good cause    but not

without a dash of condemnation

there’s none will do it   

save for me    & I

console meself in spirit    tis

one thing to kill a man

in battle    still another kill

his brother in cold blood

I’ve hanged more’n a dozen

but nere before a woman

Jones the hangman in Victoria

did rather cut his throat than hang

Mrs Knorr the baby-farmer

now I’m commandeered    they

tracked me down in wanganui

to hang a woman in

invercargill    for ₤25 in gold

upon a job well done & I delivered

to wellington    (obliged to sign to that

accept imprisonment meself

for the duration – what kind

of sot do they think me?) 

3 minutes to 8 the morrow    sheriff

will say executioner   do your duty

I’ll strap her arms & follow

to the gallows    pin her ankles    adjust

the noose about her neck    a calico cap

o’er face & head

she’ll sway a little   

oh god she’ll say

let me not suffer    I’ll

draw the trapdoor bolt

       she’ll drop

the rope pull taut

the crowd outside

will cheer & jeer

at her            & me

©  Karen Zelas 2017

from The Trials of Minnie Dean: A verse biography (Submarine imprint, Mākaro Press, 2017)

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