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From Raven's Editor:
Raven's Runes: Equations in Time

Occupational Hazards
by John Grey

I did not want the job of hangman.
I would have preferred something clerical,
even working for a skinflint like Scrooge,
than donning the black mask,
leading some poor soul to the gallows
peering into their helpless eyes
as I made my wordless introductions
of rope to neck.
I could have scribbled numbers
in a ledger, day after endless day,
but they said I had no affinity for math.
And really...
the punishment is like a pitiless ogre
to the lost and orphaned children of a crime.
What did this one do?
Steal a slice of bread to feed a hungry family?
Glance sideways at the good wife of a Lord?
No, they just happened to mention
they were going my way.
I tried to list their assets, liabilities on paper
but, once again, my pencil broke
in mindless rage when nothing balanced.
Thus, another rope thread through
the upper beams of my parlor,
another loop, another shake of my sorry head.
I hate to kick the chair away
but I'm a servant of the law.
I'd even give this job up for gravedigger
if the people would just lie down.


John Grey is an Australian-born poet, playwright, and musician. His latest book is What Else Is There? from Main Street Rag. John's work has appeared recently in Hubbub, South Carolina Review and Journal of the American Medical Association.


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"Occupational Hazards" © 2007 John Grey. Used by permission of the author.
 Raven Electrick © 2000-2007 Karen A. Romanko.