Man on the Gibbet (after Daphne Du Maurier)

My goal in life was to grow up like Ambrose;
at 27, he was the god of all creation to me.
He showed me the man on the gibbet swaying

in the breeze, told me, "It's what we all come
to in the end. A warning to you, Philip, to lead
a sober life." We watched the corpse slowly twist

in the breeze like a fancy display at the local fair.
Ambrose added, "Here is Tom Jenkyn, honest, dull
-- but he liked his noggin and fought with his wife.

"If men killed women for their tongues, we would all
be murderers." It was then I recognized the corpse--
he was the chap who sold lobsters on the town quay!

He set live lobsters free to amuse us little boys,
arranged the funny scittle-scattle races on the quay.
Ambrose asked, "Philip, what think you of him now?"

I kicked the foot of the gibbet. I answered slow,
"Tom had a brighter face when I saw him last. Now,
he isn't fresh enough for bait for his own lobsters."

Christopher T. George