April 15, 2010

Execution of Charles


Execution of Charles
by Anish Bhalerao

They gather around the condemned.
He struggles, spits at a woman,
swears at a boy, then is tranquil.
His moist eyes dazzle in the light.
He places a hand on his shirts
made of cotton, gazes skyward.
What does he see? A prophetic
vision of the afterlife?
Or a dream of a foreign land?

Let him speak! He thrusts his two hands
towards heaven, recites a hymn
that no bishop has ever spoke.
The crowd is touched. For a moment,
his crimes are forgotten. “Mercy,”
“forgiveness” and “salvation”
spring forth from peasants’ lips,
even from the woman’s and boy’s.

The masked man sighs: the deed is done.
The head is held for all to see.
Blessings for the benefactor!
Once again the town square resumes
its daily routine: vendors cry,
“Apples, potatoes, fish, flowers!”
Children play amidst the hubbub.
The dead watches with sleepy eyes
as women dip handkerchiefs in his blood.


* * *

Anish Bhalerao is currently living in Seattle, WA. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Houston Literary Review, Stray Branch, and Word Catalyst Magazine.

What do you think is the attraction of the historical fiction genre?
There is a sense of excitement when writing or reading historical fiction because it provides us with the freedom to experience history from a point of view not previously recorded. The main reason I am attracted to historical fiction is because it lets me explore the possibility of what could have been rather than what was.