Susannah Habecker © 2018

Susannah Habecker © 2018

    by Jill Talbot

_ _ E   _ O O _   O _


I swear some days I couldn’t play
Hangman cause I’d make it about
Whether or not capital punishment
Is wrong and whether or not
The stick figure got a fair trial.

First a head—a circle like a balloon,
Then a stick torso like a baton—
All weapons ready, all arms on deck.
A selfie stick to distract oncoming

Traffic. What type of man is hanged
Before he’s even a man—one leg,
Then two. No skirt, not a hanged

Woman, depending on where you
Learned to draw and how well you
Know the alphabet. All you need

Are your vowels and you will surely
Survive by never having existed
In the first place—the benefit of
Being a stick woman. Lately I’ve

Been naming each hangman Luke,
I’ve looked up The Old Testament,
But there’s nothing in there about
The sin of not knowing the word
For what’s right in front of you.

A politician is not Jesus, dying
For sins that have not yet occurred.
Before he could reach for a cigarette
With that stick arm, his head was

Blown up and tied like a dog
Outside, howling in the wind.
For the record, the stick figure

Did not get a fair trial. Ask
The dog in the shelter, posing
For a photo that may or may not
Save him.

Jill Talbot’s writing has appeared in Geist, Rattle, Poetry Is Dead, The Puritan, Matrix, subTerrain and the Tishman Review. Jill was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.