From Poetic Asides
"For today's prompt, I want you to write a hanging poem. There are a lot of things that can hang (some a bit more gruesome than others). You can hang clothes, pots and pans, pictures, and other inanimate objects; there's, of course, the kind of hangings that end lives; or you can even leave someone hanging (as Tammy pointed out to me). So, I'm not going to leave anyone hanging anymore today."
(Why yes, I know the poem appears here a few days late. I do operate on my own antiquated time line, why do you ask?)
Back in school we played hangman on wide-ruled
paper while waiting for lunch or the next class to start.
Always in pencil, never in ink, not even the noose.
I always thought of Western movies and the grim
carpenter who sawed and hammered the squared-off
gallows together. He could have cut corners, after all
the hangee would never know if the trapdoor was plumb.
Like a coffin maker, the man was a perfectionist.
A good job was a good job no matter what the end
intention. It paid well. I drew my platform
with hard, ninety degree angles,
overhead beam sturdy, fresh timbers
parallel to blue ruled lines.
My rope had thirteen scribbled
turns and an extra-wide loop.
I think I hoped my drawn
culprit would wiggle free
at the last moment,
and save me
the painful knowledge
it was my inability
the right letter