Lament of the High Sheriff
I did my duty and, if I gained
Wealth, what of it? Warrants must be signed
By the High Sheriff. My deeds had purpose.
Only an instrument of breathless
Salem and Oyer and Terminer,
Its court, I acted not in anger
But in concord with expressed direction,
Arresting each suspected person.
Yes, I piled stones on Giles Corey,
That cantankerous old man. He cursed me
And all sheriffs to follow, again
And again. “More weight,” he rasped. Amen
To that I said. He died in darkness.
Philip English was my nemesis.
Damn him and his wife, the witch Mary.
They think they’re my betters. I’m leery
Of their type. They stink the same in jail
As everyone else. I would not fail
To kick the ladder away, see them
Swing in the devil’s air, the mayhem
Above our poor world. But they escaped
My justice with bribes. They fled, reshaped
Their futures in New York. I pillaged
Their grand home and properties, salvaged
Much silver and furniture to fund
The court’s proceedings. Then I auctioned
All I could. English named me two years
Later as responsible, still besmears
Through time my well- earned reputation.
Jailed now in a shallow grave hidden
Below our family’s common cellar,
My wraith walks abroad, seeks a bailer.
– Dennis Daly