The Last Public Beheading by Mark Seidl
The officer stood next to the device, his task that day to tip the headless body into the pine box. His superiors thought he was ready for this responsibility: he’d done well during previous executions, helping serenely to carry the closed box to the unmarked grave. But when the blade hit and the body of the condemned man jerked like a startled child, the officer staggered back and gagged into his hand. He was young and came to work in shoes he kept buffed to a high gloss. A week before, or two, he would have been forgiven.
Mark Seidl lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where he works as a rare books librarian–the best job in the world! Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, New Delta Review, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere