Parramatta Hanging 1799

As the ground
beneath this summer’s
first robbing,
murdering,
rapist
gives way,
the stink of piss and shit in the sun
is punctuated
by a moment’s silence.

The crowd —
whose cheeks still ring red
as death bells;
as fresh as the morning mess
pooling outside Shea’s knackery —
stop their drooling.

The twitching of
his feet slows
and
stops.

It’s been a while
since they’d offed one of their own:
what with the natives,
— stealing hounds and pigs
and pounds of flour,
snapping twigs outside
windows at all hours  —

what with those natives,
“a waste of rope!”
whose numbers thin
with the trees and
with the fish,
and with great help
from pox and gin.
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