Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jack Scott writes

Love’s Whipping Boy

Hellos are kinder than goodbyes, 

although goodbyes are in them.

The death of couples

is the closing of the door 
between them 
from one side 
and/or the other.

Half a couple talks 

to him or herself 
afterwards at first 
in an awkward way 
just to stay in practice 
and hold the void at bay.

Silence is a major god 

sometimes at war with solitude. 
"I loved you" is hard to say, 
a concession that it’s over. 
It was always hard to hear. 
“Who loved whom?”, the silence asks.

The myths of muteness 

lie deep as broken bone, 
set without a proper cast 
by surgeon with less skill 
than rusty time, 
suturing with promises 
which tend to come undone, 
hobbling one content to walk, 
but not dance again, 
having slipped on broken ice.

The persevering heart, 

love’s whipping boy   
or girl, as the case may be, 
one of the softest parts of us, 
this boneless muscle, 
as vulnerable as we let it be 
to sucker-punch and perfidy, 
what can be done to heal it 
from the double brunt 
of offense and injury?

What salve, what balm

would comfort and relieve it, 
not just this time, 
but also in the longer later? 
To mend it, should one 
marinate with love 
to ease and soften 
or pickle it in brine, 
to tan it into leather, 
toughen into shield? 
is the choice of some, 
for, like vasectomy, 
it can sometimes be reversed. 
Those who’ve paddled 
to the bitter end 
of Love’s one-way Tunnel 
may choose petrifaction, 
preferring stone to bone.

Let’s linger with the heart, 
for it has stuck with us, 
to comfort if not heal it. 
It sorely needs repair, 
but can’t afford to rest
or worse, just stop. 

Quiet harmony can be restored 
by a simple tune-up 
following eviction: 
time to throw the squatter out,
due process’s time has come.

The volume now turned up, 

the message is quite clear, 
the sheriff’s at the door 
where, although it’s mine, 
he’s not serving me.

Why is it, 

when we’re wounded, 
shot in the back or heart, 
we tend to take the blame 
when the shouting’s done   
and the silence claims us?

I thought I was receiver, 

but am transmitter, too, 
donor and donee 
of contaminated blood.

As actor, 

I must play all the roles 
because I am the playwright 
and director, too. 
Here on the stage 
what have I been, but target
for an audience of one?

What is it that I’ve done, 

what crime? 
What is the punishment, 
for crimes of self on self?

Whatever crime, 

I can’t throw the first stone, 
and will not hurl the last. 
I’ve done the time.   
Parole, probation, pardon, 
amnesty, whatever . . . 
when I release myself 
I’m free. 
 Edward and his Whipping Boy (ca. 1545)

 The Whipping Boy -- Petr Sís

1 comment:

  1. Beginning with the Tudor dynasty, whipping boy was an established position at the English court during the 15th and 16th centuries, kept for the purpose of beating him when the crown prince did wrong. Though whipping boys were sometimes orphans of foundlings, they were often high-born companions of the royal princes and shared many of the privileges of royalty. It was considered a form of punishment to the prince that someone he cared about was made to suffer. In 1609, James I declared, "The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called Gods." Since God imposes the monarchy, and the prince would be an extension of that lineage, no one but the king could be worthy of punishing the prince. James' heir was Charles I, whose whipping boy was his close friend William Murray, whom Charles ennobled as first earl of Dysart in 1626.


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