James Charlton

(1947 - / Melbourne / Australia)

To Governor George Arthur In Heaven - Poem by James Charlton

You didn’t fornicate, swear or drink.
You didn’t cheat or hate.
Each night, studying Scripture,
you thanked the Lord for dying to save you.
In the mornings you dangled the guilty.
Their throats were tightened after prayers,
and “all but the most insensible
showed signs of repentance.”


I should not judge -
you did not choose your code.
But talk with Mary MacLauchlan,
dragged from husband and family in Glasgow;
transported for theft to Van Diemen’s Land.


Remember stretching her for infanticide,
8 a.m., Monday, April the 19th, 1830?
At least you couldn’t sleep -
struggled with that verse about yea be yea
and nay nay - and shunned the leading citizen
who seduced her.


Ask Mary about that final letter
to two small daughters,
and life’s last walk, on air.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012



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