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Poem for Two Dogs Hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692


Did they hang

their heads

as good dogs do

when someone

slips beside them

to loop

a collar

or a rope

around their furry necks


Did they prance

along proudly

as happy dogs do

when trotting

alongside a friend

or stranger

who’s taking them


for a nice long walk?


Did they give

sloppy kisses

as loving dogs do

when a kind man

or gruff man


down beside them

and says sit

and stay


Did they shake

all over

as frightened dogs do

when startled by thunder

or lightning

or black hoods

placed over their heads

making everything too quiet

and dark


Did they swing

their tails

as innocent dogs do

when they’re puzzled

or confused

but still

trusting those near

will bring them

no harm


Or did they bare

their teeth

growl and leap

snapping at the Hangman

before he strung them up

and they rose

to Heaven

leaving bodies behind

to be buried like bones



[First published in Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. Summer, 2010. http://solsticelitmag.org/poem-for-two-dogs-hanged-in-salem-1692/. Originally published in NHS 2011, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs11/.]