The cathedral bell tolled
in pious early morning,
and brought the sleepy crowd
to the gallows cross,
to witness death and justice
and see the poor heretic,
skinned alive in public
blood not fit for lowly dogs.
Condemned and naked
bound to wooden frame,
lashed by hands and feet
stripped of dignity and name,
while nuns bow shaven heads
and whisper extempore pleas,
serving a jealous God
brings evil to it's knees.
Executioner in mask and apron
array of knives on holy table,
the scrape of steel on honing stone
preludes medieval fable,
for social entertainment,
the power of the church
dispensation of arraignment.
Discreet nod from prior
to the wielder of the knives,
the heretic squirms and vomits
in the final minutes of his life,
the bell tolls one more time
long dawn shadows bring the day,
and the sun glints malevolent
on the executioners cruel blades.
Small sharp knife to start with
inserted deep into straining neck,
down in a line to base of spine
as blood wells warm and wet,
then slashed across the heaving shoulders
to form a bleeding holy cross,
the heretic howls in agony
the hushed crowd are now engrossed.
Now change of knife selection
to one with long thin blade,
inserted into gaping intersection
the little starting knife had made,
deft strokes peeled the living skin
flayed alive for mortal sin,
brutally skinned in public
let the screaming now begin.
The executioner worked quickly
sharp knives slicing human hide,
and somewhere in the crowd
a family watched their father die,
The back skin hung in gruesome flaps
revealing the weave of muscles underneath,
the executioner paused to clean his hands
as a butcher does when carving meat.
And now the hooked knife starts
unzipping the flesh of arms and legs,
the agonized screaming stops abruptly
and the heretic starts to beg,
as cuts are made round wrists and ankles
there are mumbled words from repentant lips,
and the skin hangs loose now
from shoulders and from hips.
Slicing upwards from the pelvis
keeping everything in one piece,
the executioner worked in harmony
wiping blades on aproned knees,
and the heretic screamed again in agony
and wished that he were dead,
and the only part now left attached
was the skin upon his suffering head.
Final cuts now made around the skull
with ghastly surgical precision,
the knives are downed and hands are wiped
as the executioner makes studious decision,
then he grabs the skin and jerks it up
rips face and scalp from off the head,
and the denuded flayed heretic
teeters on the point of death.
The dripping hide is held aloft
like the church's hunting trophy,
and the people cheer and bay for more
and the nun's pray for all that's holy,
the bell tolls and the sun shines
and the satisfied crowd start slowly leaving,
but one little boy has a final look
and sees the heretic is still breathing.
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