Question of Proper Form
hung, I keep forgetting
which form is proper in educated society.
The half-naked man dangles at the end of a rope.
The tree is oak or maybe maple.
And the black & white photo is very creased
so I can't make out all the faces,
except some of them are grinning.
Is it hanged
or hung? This question really bugs me.
I recall Miss Mofty writing this sentence on the schoolroom
"I hung a picture of the murderer being hanged on the
So it's probably hanged - or maybe not.
(Miss Mofty loved to teach about scaffolds and electric chairs.)
dictates the form.
When in old England starving pickpockets were executed
or today in some death-devout country
a woman is killed for being too much a woman
or a man choked for speaking his mind
the proper verb form is hanged,
especially when accompanied by pomp, circumstance,
and the reading of an impeccably drafted death warrant.
hung describes what takes place
in this nineteenth century photo of a lynching.
Except a large crease runs through the battered face of the dead
down to a grinning man standing in the crowd.
And that man in the crowd sports both Stetson and sheriff's badge.
Since the law
smiles on this event,
hanged and not hung must be the proper form,
when I address erudite audiences such as yourselves.
RICHARD FEIN was Finalist in The 2004 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as
Oregon East Southern Humanities Review, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite
Corpse, and many others. He also has an interest in digital photography.