Death of a City Councilman
The parish line was not a fence or wall apart,
just cypress trees and angry cicadas,
snakes rattling through the underbrush.
He was the only honest pol in a city
lies built brick by brick, shuttered windows
with green iron hooks, deadbolts against
sunlight. Darwin taught adaptation,
shedding skin after skin or changing colors
on desert rocks, the logic of a chameleon.
Yet he chose a noose, twilight, a broken neck
over six months in a prison where golf scores
improved daily, the tennis ball machine
never broke down. Bid rigging, offshore
banks, parking lot payoffs by the dozen
were common trade, though his sin
was uploading a few thousand into
a private account, safe from the tax man.
He wanted to believe in atonement,
his soul tipping the brass scale while acolytes
were raped by priests moved from church
by an archbishop dressed in red and black robes.
Hardly Judas, he looped a rope over
a low-hanging branch, stepped off the hood
of a car driven to the swampy edge
of a world between worlds. Owls alone
heard the creak and saw him sway. The snakes
beneath his feet swam free.
William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, LEE CIRCLE, was published by Shanti Arts Press in 2019. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner and West Branch. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.