Hangman by Heidi Wallis

You play hangman
on the orphanage steps

in turn guessing words
with children who wear

broken flip-flops
and crush together

at your hip, eager to hold
your hand or impress you

with their small english.
across the hills a storm

moves. across the page
the charcoaled hangman

is closing in. but still
there is hope, still the sun

as you slowly make sense
of each small emptiness,

every letter bringing
you closer to an answer

and then it’s there
i l o v e ­ ­r w a n  a

a small boy lays down
his pencil. the hangman

lays down his noose.


Heidi Wallis received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Chico, where she studied with Jeanne Clark, Ellen Walker, and Joanne Harris Allred. She currently works as a copywriter and finds time for poetry on the ferry between work and her home in Sausalito. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Critical Pass Review, Existere, The MacGuffin, Pennsylvania English, and Watershed Review. 

© 2014 Heidi Wallis