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Six Days to the Gallows

Six Days to the Gallows

On the first day I was walking and you marvelled at my feet.

Every step I took was a miracle, tiny but complete.

I raced around the bedroom and the air was filled with noise,

Twenty-eight pounds of sunshine wrapped up in a smiling boy.

On the second day I was talking and the words I made were good.

We described the sky, the earth and sea, and the far off Northern Woods.

But I struggled with the language and the wrestling made me spark,

Frustration blazed in my eyes like a demon in the dark.

On the third day I was screaming and the first bum notes were heard.

I screeched and flapped and pierced the air like a disbelieving bird.

You held me down with loving arms but all I felt were chains,

The fear and rage that tore my soul I couldn’t give a name.

On the fourth day I was leaving and you couldn’t make me stay.

I turned my back on your pleading to keep my tears at bay.

I put fifteen years between us when I went out in the world,

Six-foot-two of badness with black hair, long and curled.

On the fifth day I was killing and I brought it to your door.

I’d buried a man in the Northern Woods and I couldn’t take no more.

I begged for your forgiveness but it was a bridge too far,

You slapped my face and cursed my name in a voice as black as tar.

On the last day I was hanging, all your letters were in vain.

The priest looked deep in my heart and saw it full of shame.

I was scared as hell and looked around for one last ray of hope,

But as I recalled a mother’s love it was cut short by a rope.



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3 years ago

Nice one Dara. I always had a bad feeling in the Northern Woods.

3 years ago

Terrific! Never figured you for a rhyming poet (constraints!) and this is so much better than most of what passes for poetry that I come across. Needs a keening melody and you have certainly moved to the right place to find one. Too bad you missed the 60s; Joan Baez et al could’ve made much of this. I feel I should say something critical to undercut my constant cheerleading but the truth is I always seem to be impressed.

Sean D
Sean D
3 years ago

Dark but good as always D

3 years ago

That’s the best poem I’ve read by you by a distance. I read it like a Johnny Cash song for some reason. (Get Chiara to put it to music.)
A completely different song but it sort of reminded me of this Josh Ritter song I really like as well – both a compelling narrative, self-aware, a delicate balance between humour and darkness.


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