Necktie Party by Ed Shacklee

Necktie Party

He seemed to nod my way as the oak limb, bent
to hold the noose’s fruit, bent still lower
from the weight, as leaves along the bough
shook, like heads of serpents.

He seemed to gaze at what the night wind pointed
at, a view out west. The eyes went white,
vision turning sour in his head,
maybe, wanting

some light beyond the bonfire to show a way
past the twisting dance we’d set him to;
but no, there was no other way to go,
though God knows why.

The next day, in town, it was like a dream
scarcely breathed about among the decent folk,
or, Showed ’em, didn’t we, the boys’d say, talking
proud, which now seems

damned nonsense best left buried: except he turns
my way, an old man the night wind points out
to those white eyes, till I wake shouting
what nobody learned.

by Ed Shacklee, first published in Lucid Rhythms.

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Editor’s Note: This is suitably creepy for beginning of the autumn season. Dead men tell no tales, except in this case, the narrator’s memory of the hanging speaks forevermore.