Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

These Ballads are songs for Polly in my novel, I think

A Ballad of Vengeance

Her father never came back from the war
he had been marched to, with his wrists in chains.
A carriage struck her sister, spilled her brains
into the dust. Her mother tried to whore

had not the trick of it. He cut her face
for treading on his patch; rust on his knife
poisoned her blood, and so he took her life.
He tried to take the girl – she made him chase

her up an alley. Where she spilled his guts
with an old scythe she'd found. She took his blade
and swore for spite that she'd remain a maid.
She cut his ear off. It took four slow cuts

and he was howling. Took his coat and boots
and left him in his shirt. She took his purse-
two silver coins, one gold – to reimburse
her for her mother's death. Such are the fruits

of crossing me, she told his mourning girls.
Mind that you never do that. One whore said
that with their lord and master lying dead
they needed someone. Twisting ginger curls

she said 'it could be you'. 'I am no pimp
but I'll employ you all. I have a taste
for blood, I find; it should not go to waste.
We'll find the sergeant first, who sought to crimp

my father with drugged ale; then swore in court
he'd taken the king's shilling. He's around.
Go seek him, don't come back until you've found
him in some ale-house.' She cut her hair short

and oiled it like a dandy; bought him drink
and switched it on him. Fed him his own dose.
When he passed out, snot dripping from his nose,
she sold him to the press. 'I really think

that's fair', she said, standing upon the quay.
'Dad was no soldier. Played a little flute.
You never could have found a worse recruit.
The sergeant took him. Now he's all at sea.'

She laughed, and in her mind the sergeant fell
down from the rigging smash against the deck
or died of thirst, on planks torn from some wreck.
Burned black by sun first, then he'd burn in Hell.

Meanwhile they needed money; down the street
would come some gentleman. The girl would flirt
him down an alley. Then pull from her skirt
her long sharp knife. He'd go home in bare feet

with coarse brown paper wracked around his dick
tied tight with string.Just one or two a week
and only kill them if they start to shriek
when you cut off their clothes, or if they're sick

and spoil the moment.So she'd killed two men.
The driver next. They took him miles from town
in his own carriage. Then they ran him down
under his own red wheels. Did it again

to hear his bones crack. He died slow and hard
crying out Mother! And he gave the name
the man who'd hired the carriage. 'He's to blame'
he shouted dying. Gave the girls a card

some pampered lord, who'd drive too fast for sport
and thought he'd do so with impunity.
The courts and law were his for a small fee.
They took their time. No point in being caught

too soon. One of them got hired as a maid
and soon the housekeeper was fast asleep
laudanum in her tea. The maid would weep
in corridors, and act as if afraid

when the lord spoke to her. And made him wait
thinking her chaste a spiced dish for his lust.
He'd watch her mop and wipe and sweep and dust
Thought himself master sleepwalking to fate.

He thought it his idea to be tied down
face-forward in his own fourposter bed.
They dropped four carriage wheels down on his head.
And pressed the man to death. They left that town.

'This has been fun. Learning that men can bleed'
she said to her young friends. They cried Again!
Since then they've murdered many wicked men
so lechers, frauds, bad drivers, all take heed!
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