Mark Brophy

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Laughing Hangmen


The executioner does not relish their subject’s end.
The art is to give dignity, some sorrowful respect.
Tread gently on the killer’s grave while snuffing out that life,
Pierrepoint himself would never crow at his vengeful task.

Why then backslapping and cheering, giddy and triumphal
as if they’d just seen a try scored in the Varsity Match?
This is a sombre occasion for those beneath the noose.
The bell announces division; But it only tolls for some.

The lever is pulled, the trap falls! They file into the lobbies.
Disenfranchised first on the rope, unopposed, they’re dangled:
Free labour, they’ll work for nothing, or lose their little lot.
And if it proves the law’s broken; just change it, make it suit.

Subsistence benefits reduced; the only way to prove
you’re incapacitated is to die while you’re at work.
Will less food do for the hungry? Houses can be colder?
No shirkers, scroungers tale here just poorer, sicker, older.

I suppose they’re all still laughing? Here’s some jokes for jokers:
When is a house not someone’s home? When underoccupied.
What’s black and blue, and kicked all over? You and me, never them.
Two men walk into power, Ouch! They’re immune to its shock.


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