Crime in the city was punishment in
with the blindfelled crowd and a hooded
soldier at ease like a coiled serpent
taut as the bent cross on his armor.
The lunatic and depraved left the cry quarter
for the long march to circle the gallows
with the hanging judge who tore his bible
pruning the articles of faith and disorder
to soothe the heretic and bereaved.
Punishment in the field was crime in the city.
The rogue’s bell swayed under the moon
as the helmsman carried a frayed noose
holy water and the triumphant blade.
Was it how we punished the wealthy
who plundered, robbed, and killed
or the poor and how many we killed?
The accused was tied to a quarter horse
for a gallop above the hollow ground
wearing her tar and feathers like a gift.
Crime in the city was punishment in the field
with quicksand and rope a foot too short.