The Ballad of David O. Dodd

March 27, 2011

Some friends of mine went to see Phillip McMath’s new play, The Hanging of David O. Dodd at the Weekend Theater last night. I didn’t make it, but I understand there’s a movie in the offing. Here’s something I’m working on:

The moon tonight is bright and mean
— a skull hung in the sky.
If you’re a man at seventeen
you’re not afraid to die.

My stars are wheeling into sync
so I’ll tell you the truth:
I never was the sort to think
the long, long thoughts of youth.

Fagan asked for a report
and I tried to oblige.
Like my lawyer kindly told the court
I never did disguise

who I was or what I did
or where my allegiance lies.
I may be just a stubborn kid.
I know what they do to spies.

Still, it’s funny how these glyphs and jots
seem to over matter.
One could play connect the dots
with the soldiers’ idle chatter.

Mary Dodge is just a silly flirt,
I was her mild infatuation.
She might get her feelings hurt,
but she supplied no information.

I have no hope for an appeal,
no dreams of clemency.
When the ladies went to General Steele —
well, it just embarrassed me.

This college was a jolly place
I wish I’d never left;
Tomorrow I’ll wear my brave face
while they strangle me to death

The cause is lost, and so am I.
So is our Confederacy.
To be a martyr one must die
but they’ll name a school for me.

The moon tonight is bright and mean
the color of marzipan
if you’re not grown up at seventeen
you’ll never be a man.


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