A Mercy

Iesu, trugarha wrthyf  - last words of Richard Gwyn, catholic martyr, 1584


In death they spilled out like a truant’s take

from those schoolmaster’s pockets: Peter’s keys

notched from some hard keeping; a sky of crows,

their black wings drubbing his heart awake


though stubborn now it seemed it would not break

for all the hangman’s knocking; then the sixpence

he’d once pledged the state in deference

to his several crimes. Which little joke


next to his last words sticks in the throat,

that he called for mercy as his guts were drawn

who laughing once had goosed some prissy vicar


hectoring him from the court-cum-pulpit’s height.

For whose sake at last God sought to drown

death with his testament. Iesu, trugarha.

© Meirion Jordan