It’s sad to see that breaking necks is out of fashion: this reflects
  Our taking new technologies to heart. 
The practice, in the West at least, has much declined or even ceased. 
  Yes, hanging has become a dying art. 

I say an art, and so it is: it takes a mathematics whiz
  To gauge a Dead Man Sitting’s weight and height
And say 'he needs a rope this long.' Get any calculation wrong...   
  Let's say it wouldn't be a pretty sight. 

A person practised in the use of gallows and a sturdy noose
  Will do the job with expeditious skill:
In seconds your convicted chap is hooded, strung and through the trap -
  A quick and clean and (almost) painless kill. 

You need to put in time and graft to learn this ancient, subtle craft,  
  With poison gas or needles, not so much. 
The chair’s no punitive advance: when villains do the sit-down dance 
  They miss the hangman’s artisanal touch.

Elegy For a Hangman

© 2019 by Rob Stuart