Thursday, October 02, 2008

the enragé on the guillotine 1798

Strapped to a board
his body jerked and spasmed
for some moments
as the last volts of rage,
the final syllables of paroxysm,
earthed through the extremities.
His face that had fallen pale

into a basket
worked through varieties of wildness
and cruelty
witnessed by all who looked in,
as though he was not yet done with us
and our milky constitution,

as though the febrile soul would slide out,
would manifest before the assembly
as a demon that grasped and crushed

and devoured, and those
who perceived this straining
fell back,
left the square briskly,
pushing out through the drunkards
like swimmers frightened by a shark.
In this way, oscillating
with great wildness and fury
and explosion,
the Enragé passed,

his body finally growing limp.
Even his face, pale, romantic and bloody,
ceased contorting and at the last
adopted a sad aspect
as of one who has looked
into a savage crowd

through dead eyes,
and has seen such things there
as have made him glad
to be gone quickly from that place.
.
.
.
(Published in Underground Voices Feb 2008)

2 comments:

Pam O'Shaughnessy said...

Hi, Steve,

Ok I'll try again.

Your very best poem, I think,

Pam

Steve Parker said...

Thanks, Pam.