p
o
e
m
s

Less for the murders than the smug face
remorseless smirking on the screen
all through the trial, when I heard how
he had greased the floor with shampoo
before he hanged himself so when his legs
thrashed his feet would just keep slipping
to increase the pressure they, despite him,
were frantic to relieve,
                                    when I pictured or
tried to picture the cramped abyss of the dark
cell in which his body jerked and kicked,
pissing itself till it finally hung limp, dripping,
it was as if I’d stage the suicide myself
in a godly fantasy of pay back, eye for eye, redress,
but the scales just wouldn’t stop trembling,
quivering, off-kilter but barely, almost
but never quite still, or even, like an undershirt
I may have blindly put on backwards or inside out
because now it fits and doesn’t, isn’t right and is.

Alan Shapiro’s most recent book of poetry if Life Pig, published in 2016 by University of Chicago Press.

 

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