Disclaimer: They're all Whedon's.
Author's Note: Who really believes that Mal has never done anything that might warrant a death sentence?
Who Shall Stand
by S. Risen
The gallows wear the fragrance of sweet cut pine,
a christening of sawdust -- expectation.
Nooses are elegant in silhouette.
Only the villain of the piece,
straight-backed and proud on the trapdoor,
commands as many pleasant shivers.
It's a clean collection of geometry,
judges the modest audience
(the little ones ugly with fascination).
Don't it sometimes take his head off?
The thief holds his soldier's stance
and trembles like a kitten when they blindfold him.
A voice tumbles out from above a shepherd's collar--
ever-merciful, he wants to know:
You got anything you need to say?
(A word could turn them all to stone,
faces rough-hewn to mirror his nauseous fear.
Dead men have that power.)
He expires in pink blooms of burst vessels,
frosted blue lips. There's a waterfall roar
in his ears--his leaden, freefalling heart
and sated justice purring on the ground.
What was it he said? (They wander off,
their own masters once more.) Anybody hear?
I owe you nothin', the preacher echoes, and echoes.
Not even an explanation.