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THE SAW by James Allen Hall

Galeria Hermandad, Toledo

A hand made this, hammered flat a hot length of iron,
cut one side jagged, a row of teeth. The criminal

would be hoisted up, tied inverted, the saw
at his scrotum. The act required two men

Galeria Hermandad, Toledo

A hand made this, hammered flat a hot length of iron,
cut one side jagged, a row of teeth. The criminal

would be hoisted up, tied inverted, the saw
at his scrotum. The act required two men

before and aft, their breath ragged, flesh straining
through flesh, a saw coming for his eyes. Once

he followed a plainclothes soldier home. Kissed him
open-eyed. Saw the night shredded down to morning.

Saw what was approaching, was breaking in the door
even now: in the closet, a row of uniforms,

legs halved by hanging. The wrack the maiden
the noose the saw. Sierra. I’ll never say it right.

We are standing in Toledo, in dry museum light.
I’m pressing my hands against the stained glass

of the wrong century. In a cathedral down the street,
a row of white pointed pontiff hats, preserved

behind glass, eyeing my wrists. Last night I was suspect,
legs spread. And you, soldier, tied them wide.

I leave my hand in yours and follow you home,
the way I’ve always done, wanting to be wrong

about why you won’t touch the rest of me,
why there’s something that loves me cut apart.

 

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About James Allen Hall

James Allen Hall
James Allen Hall's first book of poetry, Now You're the Enemy, won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Recent poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, New England Review, American Poetry Review, and Bloom.