The gallows and the galleries were there.
Bartenders raised their hazel drams at dawn.
No voices broke the silence of the square.
The torturer smiled and put her lipstick on.
Bartenders raised their hazel drams at dawn
to toast the manifesto up in flames.
The torturer smiled and put her lipstick on,
and the inspector wrote down all the names.
To acknowledge the manifesto up in flames,
the generals lifted their hands in salute.
An investigator wrote down all the names.
The local hangman wore his leather suit.
The generals finished making their salute
since there was nothing left for them to do.
The local hangman, wearing his leather suit,
said to the cameras, “Behold the New,
which, inevitable, governs all we do.
It holds the past to blame for everything
(so do not blame the triumph of the New).
At noon, when fields are fresh, the bells will ring
to say the past’s to blame for everything.
We curse the old man’s cartwheel on the hill.
At noon, when fields are fresh and the bells ring,
we’ll seek the darkness out, and, lovely still,

curse the old man’s cartwheel on the hill.”
The Tarot lady, reading her cards in braille,
lay down in the shadows, completely still,
and prayed to the random mercies of the hail.
The Tarot lady read her cards in braille.
The inquisitor kept his face behind a mask,
oblivious to the mercies of the hail,
and fixed his mind on finishing his task.
The inquisitor kept his face behind a mask
and, pacing the interrogation room,
fixed his mind on finishing his task.
A bride informed on her arrested groom.
Doctors pronounced the interrogation room
“necessary.” (Everyone tells a lie.)
A bride informed on her arrested groom,
then slipped away as through a needle’s eye.
Because, in the end, everyone tells a lie,
the dead lay buried near the city gates.
None of them quite fit through the needle’s eye.
Theirs was only one of many fates.
The dead lay buried near the city gates.
The gallows and the galleries were there.
Though theirs was only one of many fates,
No voices broke the silence of the square.

                                                                                       —Morri Creech

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 9, on page 32
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