the cavanagh

(a prosecutor’s story)

wait, shakespeare said, here is a man
possessed of wisdom and wit
whose courage of conviction
are the stuff of great character

the lifeguard? the limerick joker?
cast him then, the devil replied
i fear no bombastic irishman
if this be your hero, tis quick work

and so they sent him – the cavanagh
to the very depths of our play
to the place the dark beast dwells
insatiably feeding on evil

jeepers creepers! the cavanagh shouted
rolling from the pitch, righting himself
only to stand face to face with the beast
the creature, snarling and drooling

one moment sir, said the cavanagh sternly
reaching for his reading glasses
and squinting into the murky scene
oh yes, you must be injustice

the beast lurched forward, mouth agape
i am he, it spit, and i am fear
master of this, the realm of lost souls
and you, now condemned, shall join…

yes…yes… the cavanagh interrupted
pointing to notes drawn from his coat
please tell me where i can find them
and, if you know, a decent pint

somewhat bewildered, the beast complied
sending the cavanagh into the void
where sat the victims of injustice
lost to their silence and their tears

making out faint images and voices
the cavanagh moved soul to soul
sensing, learning, feeling their pain
asking each, what happened to you?

but none would speak a word of it
for they knew the beast forbid it
and the beast was a vengeful monster
capable of consuming them all

poppycock! the cavanagh insisted
as he set about to learn their stories
i beg you, share whatever you can
do this, and I will speak for you

still, frightened, they said very little
speaking in tiny voices, of harmless things
of a touch, of a word, of a scar
but in them, the cavanagh found truth…

there is murder here! he bellowed
though it have no tongue, let it speak!
come out, you filthy noxious beast!
confront your accuser – if you can!

and the whole stage shook, as if to cower
as the beast, enraged, appeared frothing
death to you! it sneered, i am he
i am fear, i am the master of…

whoa! whoa! whoa! the cavanagh cried
i know what you are, you coward!
hiding in darkness! let us see you!
face your deeds! see those you hurt!

here, for the briefest of seconds
the beast hesitated, ceding to a cry
from the darkness, a child appeared
you hurt me, the little girl whispered

instantly, a wall of sound rushed forward
as rediscovered voices lit the theatre
exposing and overwhelming the beast
while the cavanagh was whisked away…

thank you sir, shakespeare smiled to his friend
win your wager? the cavanagh asked
indeed, said the bard, ask and its yours
the cavanagh grinned, i’ll have a guinness

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