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The Killing

George Elliott Clarke
From:   Execution Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of "George and Rue", Wolfville, N.S.: Gaspereau Press, 2001.

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 of 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.
Now what?

Rue: So what?

George Elliott Clarke's works copyright © to the author.

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