First, we place the neck on the block
and put the basket underneath
the head and then make sure the blade
is sharp enough before we ask the person
one more time just to be polite:
Are you sure you’re not one of us?

And if the answer’s no, we
pick up our bullhorn and announce
loud enough for the others
waiting in their orange to hear:
“Going once, going twice.”
Then we pull the rope and

the blade drops and that one’s done.
Then we uncage the next one and tell him
to put the head on a pole and bag the rest
before we position him on the same block
and politely ask him the same question:
Are you sure you’re not one of us?


Donal Mahoney’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including Ink Sweat & Tears (England). The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), Ancient Heart (Australia) and a wide variety of print and online magazines in the United States. Some of his work can be found at