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Good Luck
          –black cat, 13th century A.D.

by David D. Horowitz

He meant to fling me on my lady's pyre
To "Burn in hell!" and yet he threw me higher
Than meant, and I, though singed, could sprint and dash
Away, past all that crackling cinder, ash,
And hatred. "Here," they cried, "Grimalkin
Escapes! No, there!" My name is Alcuin,
But now they screeched, "Black devil! Demon! Curse!"
I scampered under thicket into meadow,
Not pausing for a mousy meal, for shadow
Of curiosity, to cry or nurse
My cuts and burns, to bay or pray or plead
Or pout. I ran, I ran, I ran–to edge
Of forest, as if chased along a ledge:
One false step, full stop, half-stop, and I'm dead!
I streaked and sprinted, deeper into green
And brown of forest, and, I think, unseen
By my pursuers, I could slow instead
Of sprint, could start to calibrate my pace,
Could dare to rest, suspire, sniff, and glance
For anyone with hound or sword or lance
Or mace or arrow, dagger, rock. What place
Is this? I wondered. Then I sighed, I breathe!
My kindest lady's corpse chars, blisters, smokes.
Her soul ascends to heaven. They'll crack jokes
And walnuts, offer prize for me and seethe
That I escaped!
                      And who's the devil? I
Dare wonder. And, more sadly: Why?

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