The Execution of John Billington
That was it: the rope pulling taut, his spine jerking.
Neck-burn, the end of the brilliant, breathing thing
that was his body. Brawn shocked from his head,
black beard tangled, his sockets choked with blood.
We almost left him hanging: a drunken rogue,
a Stranger who worshipped nothing but waterdogs
at the banks of the river that coursed through his art.
We almost left him hanging: his throat cut with weight,
his limbs stiff-quick: steles of rock, numb nerves.
His head was a green room, or perhaps a nave
laced with blooms. To him, his body was a cloud.
His pulse: a trail of footprints fading in the woods.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro