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from the March 2007 issue

Practice for Hangmen

“Ambar Past’s poetry is born out of the beauty of Chiapas, a state rich not only in natural resources and artistry, but one that puts intellectual and poetic values above all others.”—Elena Poniatowska 


When the world is filled with evil,
Transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.
—The Mind-Training Slogans of Atisha

The Egyptian forensic doctor Fakhri Ohamed Saleh told the Arab television network Al-Yazira that on rare ocasions, a hanging can accidentally cause decapitation, due to bad quality rope or executioners who lack experience.
—Reuters, January 15, 2007

1. Get as much experience as you can.
2. Black goes with everything.
3. Learn the ropes.
4. Hang out with famous people.
5. The bigger they come, the harder they fall.
6. Never speak ill of the dead.
7. Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.
8. You have the last word.
9. Don't tell the children.
10. The lighter the body, the slower the drop.
11. Blood is thicker than water.
12. Boil noose for one (1) hour.
13. Practice makes perfect.
14. Place knot directly behind left ear.
15. Maintain a joyful mind.
16. Lubricant may prevent tissue damage at neck.
17. Don't expect applause.
18. This is a thankless job.
19. Dead men have no friends.
20. Never say die.
21. Somebody has to do the dirty work.
22. No special training required.
23. Turn off all cell phones.
24. The fear of death is worse than death itself.
25. Enjoy the gallows humor.
26. Your only function is to release a trap door.
27. Out of sight, out of mind.
28. When you go home, wipe your feet.
29. Avoid talking shop.
30. Never lose your head.

Copyright 2007 by Ambar Past. Translation copyright 2007 by Munda Tostón. All rights reserved.

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