Mystery and Crime Poetry posted May 29, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
a short violent life

The Death of Joseph Burnett

by mfowler

There are melancholy moments to be faced
at the smoky candle end of time
Joseph Burnett's life's been laced with nectar sweet
and hemlock trace
A life of crime
he's yet to face a victim's ghost
its scornful mime
of gallows' post
His final words defiant, still
he fears death's claws, the blood they spill
The padre asks him 'bout his soul
its saving traits, its honour roll
But, Joseph knows the list is blank
(unless you count the National Bank
when no-one died
the bullets blank)
The padre asks if he'll repent
say sorry for the lives he's spent
the crims, the wives, the innocent
But, Joseph cannot reason why he should explain to God or man
the things he's done within his span
The world was cruel to him from birth, a jungle full of hostile beasts
where dogs ate cats and prying  priests
The padre blesses Joe in hope
he trusts his God will help him cope
Alone he ponders what's felt good
the love of whores, the screams of hoods
the fear of foes, kowtowing friends
bribes keeping piggies locked in pens
The nectar sweet that poured from fear, reward for effort was it not
hemlock dispensed to far and near, a poisoned cup or single shot
Too late to play the sorry clown
with sorrowed tears
displacing paint
Joe knows he's going down
he'll wear a smirk, deflect the fears
be grateful for the few good years
He'll mock them all with bold restraint
The smoky candle end of time has come
along with victims' friends, loved ones
and Joseph's grieving, crying Mum
The hangman's noose foreshadows hell
All await the warden's final bell
And Joseph's heart is bleeding shame
bravado shattered by his name
not fear of death and flames to come
but words of love
from dear, old Mum



'The smoky candle end of time'
a quote from
"Preludes" by T S Eliot

crims-slang for criminals
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