Rue: I ingratiated the grinning hammer
with Silver’s not friendless, not unfriendly skull.
Behind him like a piece of storm, I unleashed a frozen glinting –
a lethal gash of lightning.
His soul leaked from him in a Red Sea, a Dead Sea,
churning his clothes to lava.
Geo: No, it didn’t look like real blood,
but something more like coal, that inched from his mouth.
Rue: It was a cold hit in the head. A hurt unmassageable.
Car seat left stinking of gas and metal and blood.
And reddening violently.
A rhymeless poetry scrawled his obituary.
Geo: It was comin on us for awhile, this here misery.
We’d all split a beer before iron split Silver’s skull.
Silver’s muscles still soft and tender. That liquor killed him.
The blood like shadow on his face, his caved-in face.
Smell of his blood over everything.
Rue: Iron smell of the hammer mingled with iron smell of blood
and chrome smell of snow and moonlight.
Geo: He had two hundred dollars on him; bootleg in him.
We had a hammer on us, a spoonful of cold beer in us.
The taxi-driver lies red in the alabaster snow.
His skeleton has taken sick and must be placed in the ground.
This murder is 100 per cent dirt on our hands.
Rue: Twitchy, my hand was twitchy, inside my jacket.
The hammer was gravity: everything else was jumpy.
I wondered if Silver could hear his own blood thundering,
vermilion, in his temples, quickened, twitchy, because of beer;
jumpy molecules infecting his corpuscles, already nervous.
The hammer went in so far that there was no sound –
just the slight mushy squeak of bone.
Silver swooned like the leaden Titanic.
Blood screamed down his petit-bourgeois clothes.
Geo: Can we cover up a murder with snow?
With white, frosty roses?
Rue: Here’s how I justify my error:
The blow that slew Silver came from two centuries back.
It took that much time and agony to turn a white man’s whip
into a black man’s hammer.
Geo: No, we needed money,
so you hit the So-and-So,
only much too hard.
Rue: So what?
This poem has been placed at the Science East Museum in downtown Fredericton.
Source: Clarke, George Elliott. Execution Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of "George and Rue." Gaspereau Press, 2001.
Photo credit to B S K via FreeImages.com: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/hopeless-1188692