Poetry by Christianna Cannon

GALLOWS

At the closing of my final year
I'll show you no trace of fear
Remember that I'd not be here
Had you not caught me unawares.
Jailer, as you turn that key
From the look in your eyes, I can see
The time has come, apparently
For me to climb those one-way stairs.

Lock rusty irons on my wrists
Behind my back, my fighting fists
Held harmless now and motionless—
I hope now you're feeling brave.
Forgive me, please, for smiling
Your fear of me is flattering.
I thank you all for everything,
Now I'll walk freely to my grave.

My sacrifice serves to obscure
A dire omen you ignore:
One villain's death won't stop a war
I can't help laughing at the thought.
Of all that still amuses us
What I like best is scandalous:
That, mostly, I'm notorious
Not for what I am, but what I'm not.

I once felt love, and pain, and hate
Despairing as I denied fate
Futile, yes—but now too late
I've done it all; I guess I'm through.
Remember this last song I've sung
As I am from the gibbet strung;
To all who watch me dying young
May my last words torment you:

Three hundred pairs of hungry eyes;
Throats that swell with vengeance cries
From Hell, I'll still laugh at your lies—
Once this rope loses its slack.
Curse me, scorn me, shout and pray,
Cry "Monster!" and fling stones my way;
But from this scaffold I survey
A mob of myself staring back.

circa 1999-2000.

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