The Hangman

He helped the wretch rise to his feet
When thrice had stumbled he;
With a gentle pull on tattered rags,
The bondsman made no plea.

“Come now, poor soul; I’ll try to lead…”
He whispered, almost cried—
Yet cloudy orbs of muted thanks
Was the wretch’s sole reply.

I watched this scene from noisy crowd.
The contrast was quite stark:
Youth and age on stage before us
In the twilight fast-turning dark.

The hateful eyes of those around me
Blazed fire, clear as mud;
They had no reason to hate this wretch
But still they shouted out for blood.

The jailor leading forth the man
Wore the complexion of a lad;
The wretch showed lines of guilt & shame
And his gait deformed and sagged.

Juxtaposition: the caged and free:
Beauty, youth, and aged—
The jailor led forth his prisoner…
And this boiled the crowd to rage!

The path was short, yet seemed like days
Time and man slow-crept—
Weakened, weary, scared, bereft
The wretch fought for e’ry step.

Jeers from the crowd were bathed in spite;
Some hissed or cruelly spit.
The man shuffled on, head held high,
As though immune to earthly fits.

At last he stumbled and seemed to fall,
His strength all used up.
But the jailer’s arms were there to grab
And hold him like a pup.

The man exhausted, whipped & chained—
Subject to every harm—
Had his last few steps walked for him
Carried in the hangman’s arms.

A gurney was brought but waved away
By jailor who trod along—
Final few steps of the death march done,
And prisoner right where he belonged.

The lad did something then I shan’t forget
Until my last and final breath
He reached down and gently kissed the wretch
On his forehead—then he left.

He walked off the platform without a word,
But the wretch did catch his eye:
And as his head was fitted for the rope
The jailor turned and sighed.

“You’re condemned to death, sir, make no mistake.”
The hangman bade his chore—
“Bring down the blade on his wretched head!”
And the wretch he lived no more.

Sean Dempsey
Sean Dempsey moved to New Hampshire as one of the first 100 ‘Free Staters.’ He unabashedly believes in the US Constitution and the message and principles enshrined by its founders. Sean believes the country in which we live needs to re-examine what Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Adams believed (and were willing to die for). The message of freedom is not a tag line or something to be embarrassed by, but is sacrosanct and more important than ever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *