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Being an artist doesn’t take much, just everything you got. Which means, of course, that as the process is giving you life, it is also bringing you closer to death. But it’s no big deal. They are one in the same and cannot be avoided or denied. So when I totally embrace this process, this life/death, and abandon myself to it, I transcend all this meaningless gibberish and hang out with the gods. It seems to me that that is worth the price of admission.

- Hubert Selby, Jr.

The Death Of Guy Fawkes

The Death Of Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes, 1605, plotted to blow up
Parliament -
his reasons were religious or something -
he was Catholic – or Protestant -
malcontent – psychopath –
anti-what-we’re-trying-to-do-here
(in truth, his grievances are lost to history
or even if they’re not, they’re quite irrelevant to this case) -
and he was guilty found.

How in hell did Fawkes haul two tonnes of gunpowder
into the basement of Parliament without anyone knowing??
I suspect a conspiracy.

King James I, who gave us The Bible,
forbade torture,
but had the power to bend the rule ad hoc in extremis
and so did.
James recommended the “gentler tortours” be applied first,
and then, well, you know, after that do what you have to do.
Fawkes signed his confession dutifully
with a line like a child’s drawing of waves.

The trial dragged on for a couple days.
Fawkes’ co-conspirators – a bunch of
stupid fucks with no names -
cried out their innocence,
even up to the commencement of hanging, drawing, and quartering.

A mighty throng – throng so mighty! -
assailed Parliament to behold the swelling scene!
So many young men and women of England,
so strong in body, so wise in their simplicity,
so generous with their goods,
so fearful of god,
so devoted to their king,
grown men wept to behold the assembled
pure stock vouchsafing England’s future. Amen.

They cheered as each conspirator was hoisted,
and, kicking, opened up like a hog,
their sausages removed in bulk,
the craftsman-torturer heaving on the guts
like a man trying to pull a boy out of a well,
clipping a strip of white connective veil,
here and there, to make the whole thing
come out neat.
Sure, some stayed living for quite some minutes
and all that jazz you know.

Later they would cut the cocks off and toy
with them, stick them in each others faces
and say, “Oh, you make me so horny, give sucky sucky please?”
Obviously, they daren’t do such a thing
in front of Parliament. Or ladies.
But back at barracks, they could unwind a bit.

The arms and legs were separated publicly.
This was part of the ritual.
People expected it,
and they cheered like hell as each limb came loose.
When one executioner clowned with the right leg
of Robert Keyes conspirator,
the groundlings laughed.
But a conservative MP fumed
and said a mockery was being made of justice,
and he would make the saucy fellow pay for it
and maybe he would think twice next time.

Fawkes was left till last.
They wanted him first to watch it,
then after he watched it, he would mount
the scaffold it was going to be so great!
He ascended slowly,
like a grandmother afeared of a fall, hips
and shoulders barely holding true after weeks on the rack.

The rope -
limp, sleeping, and really thick too -
was looped over his neck,
and the crowd giggling glee,
stood tiptoe
to see it all
(Some ladies later reported to their maids that, well…
“A queer feeling, as like I would nurse a babe or – or – ”),
and Guy Fawkes, finally at the top, was heard to say,
“Fuck this.”

So he took the plunge, a big jump forward, and out -
the hangman slapping his ass as he went,
saying “You go, girl!!” -
a jump enough to snap Fawkes’ neck and kill him. Ha!

The crowd had been robbed of the pleasure
of seeing the live body writhe
under the torturer-craftsman’s tools.
But they cheered anyway.
And then cheered when Fawkes steaming dead man’s guts
were exhumed.
And then cheered as each limb
came clear.
And the head too,
gray-faced and gray-bearded,
looking like the face of a man in prayer or on the verge of orgasm,
they cheered at that, when the head came off.
And when it was displayed to all
like the next item up for auction,
they cheered.

Eyewitnesses wrote the crowd felt “joy”.

And we watched the whole thing on tv, didn’t we?

We were there.

And there.

And there too.
And we were in there,
and in there.
Every part of that meat was ours.
And we cheered too to know it was accomplished.
We squeezed each other so tightly round the neck,
we came in our pants.

 

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