by Jeffrey Murrell

Chapter 9
The Pot

He struggled with the knots--Pop! Pop!
another, then another--Pop!
She had gone back to rest
after stuffing her belly full.
And there was the cat, picking over the pan
she had shoved back onto the oven wrack,
leaving the door wide open to cool
the coals to keep from boiling over her pot.
Pop! Pop! One more to go!
The cat suspecting nothing
as it gorged on the remains of the roastling,
rain coming down some more,
tapping the roof and making the camp creek,
hiding the ripping sounds of the cords
wrapped around his legs and feet.
Finally free!
Slowly, he started to rise up,
his joints were stiff and tight;
his knees and shoulder joints cracked
as he slammed the oven door with all his might.
The cat shrieked and pounded the insides!
He wedged a piece of wood against the handle
to keep the thing from getting out in the night.
Then he stoked up the coals good and hot,
shoving the rest of the sticks through the bottom slot.
Then his curiosity was drawn up top
to the bubbling, steaming, belching pot.
And he grasped the lid with a piece of cloth,
in the moonlight, lifted it up off
to see the missing back haunch of that dog
floating around in the thick, gruesome sauce.
RAOWWWWWWWW! the cat screeched, all flaming hot,
furiously pounding at the door with scorched paws,
a demon that just couldn't be killed, it seemed,
but soon after that, it stopped.
But not before the rain had ceased.
"What's goin' astray in there?"
Clump-hop! Clump-hop! Clump-hop! hop! hop!
Quick, he scurried back over to his seat
in the dark; her figure emerged, holding a match to the light.
The kerosene burning, to the stove her attention turned
to see how it had been jammed shut.
Unpinned, the door fell open,
the cat laid all stiff and burned;
tears ran down her face as she mourned,
not thinking about how it could have occurred.
Then her bitter sorrow turned quite darker
to a shade of vengeful anger,
as she swung about to "kill me a nigger!"
he met her full-force with the chair
and laid her out cold on the floor
in the tracks of blood and other gore.
He yanked the cat's carcass out of the oven,
also threw out the pan,
reached up to her pot with that cloth
and dumped it all out over the coals,
then he slammed the door shut and ran
before the old woman woke up!
He jumped off the porch--
Bark! Bark! Bark! the old dog called!
He went over and untied its rope,
"C'mon, boy! Let's git outta here!"
Over to the trees--where was that boat?
Foomp! Foomp! FOAMP! came blasts of sparks out the pipe
in the roof like bursts from a big roman candle!
Then a wave of flames burst out the kitchen window
and lit up the whole side of the house.
"C'mon, boy! Here's dis boat!
let's git it out t'da water!"
he called to the dog as he shoved off,
pushing clear of the ground with a paddle.
Foomp! Frowww! The house sizzled
and crashed half-way down off its stilts
with a belch of flames and thick black smoke.
Then the roof, glowing red, began to tremble,
and licks of flames shot out,
and wisps of smoke, some grey and light,
escaped the inferno up into the night,
columns of puffs freed by the flames,
spreading ghostly wings and taking flight
up over the star-draped tree line.
Then one stood out amongst the glowing sight,
as if with arms stretched out to the sky
and reaching for help to be lifted,
one slinky cloud of fumes,
getting licked by the flames that bore it,
trying now to escape their hot torrent,
and just barely floating up and away
until a flaming talon grabbed up and snatched it
back down to the molten plane!
Then is when he heard her scream
the most hideous, gut-wringing shriek
that ever he did hear in his life,
as she wrenched and writhed and burned inside,
finally paying her price.
And then the other side of the shack
was engulfed by flames, and crashed
in a cyclone of sparks and smoke;
and the roof also finally collapsed,
leaving a pool of fire just as flat
as that water he was paddling away on,
rowing his way back to better days,
to do works of good in the sight of God,
he and the dog.