Ballad of a Hanged Man

Original Text: 
Execution Poems (Wolfville, NS: Gaspereau Press, 2001): 13.
2I'll stomach a stammering teaspoon full,
3but Roach laps up half the half bottle.
4He slups glass for glass with the best.
5I sidled in, easy, the taxi with a hammer,
6harsh, in my pocket. See, as a wed man,
7I don't care if I wear uglified overalls.
8But I ain't gonna hear my child starve.
10In my own heart, I had that, to rape money,
11because I was fucked, in my own heart.
12I took scared, shaking inside of me.
13I knows Fredericton reporters can prove
15I was shaking all that evening, my mind,
16shaking. But my child was hungered.
17Have you ever gone in your life, going
18two days without eating, and whenever
19you get money, you're gonna eat and eat
20regardless of all the bastards in Fredericton
21was bust in the head, skull jimmied open?
22This is what I'm sermonizing in English:
23homemade brew, dug up fresh, tastes like
24molasses. We had some. Some good.
25Logic does not break down these things, sir.
26If I hadn't dropped the hammer, laughing,
27Silver would be laughing now. Laughing. Silver
28moon and snow dropped on the ground.
29Two pieces of bone driven two inches
30deep in his brain. What's deeper still?
31The bones of the skull were bashed
32into the brain. Blood railed out.
33I was so mixed up, my mind bent crooked.
34Silver's neck, face, and hand bleached cold.
35Inside the sedan 19-black-49 sobbing Ford.
36Outside, snow and ice smelling red-stained.
37I ain't dressed this story up. I am enough
38disgraced. I swear to the truths I know.
39I wanted to uphold my wife and child.
40Hang me and I'll not hold them again.


1] Geo: the speaker is George Albert Hamilton, the black Nova Scotian murderer of Elliott's "George & Rue: Pure, Virtuous Killers." Back to Line
9] ruck: get (slang). Back to Line
14] zoot-suit: gawdy man's suit, originating in Black America, "characterized by a long, draped jacket with padded shoulders, and high-waisted tapering trousers" (OED). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of George Elliott Clarke or the Gaspereau Press permissions department.</b>