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Two Poems
by Eddie Woods

Metaphor for America

"An eye for an eye...
leaves the whole world blind"

     --Mohandas K. Gandhi

She had a good run
is basically what they said
of Karla Faye Tucker

Fourteen years
to make her peace with God
before we went ahead and killed her

Yet America has made peace with no one
least of all itself
and that goes double for the State of Texas

In God We Trust
it says on the almighty dollar bill
like the ones they use
to pay for those injections

They think they are better
than the Chinese
by not charging for the bullet

But still they insist
on separation of politics and conscience
the perennial rule of ego and fear

Really making progress, America is
especially down there
in the wild-west heart of Dixie

More or less used to be
only poor black males
had to watch their maybe-murdering asses

Now the powers-that-be
will sock it with merciless equanimity
to pretty white womenfolk, as well

All the more surely, it seems
if while doing long time
the lady actually finds redemption

Pat Robertson couldn't turn them around
a word from the Pope aroused only anger:
no Polack priest gonna tell us how to act

And you can bet your bottom prayer book
we were never meant to hear bo-peep
from the very irreverent Billy Graham--
which would have done the trick, you know

A lethal shot is so humane
perfectly painless, we hear tell;
but how the hell would they know
without themselves experiencing it?

The church was closed
later that day after Karla died
so the best I could do
was light a candle in my heart

Her mind was clear
her soul finally stainless

But it will take more
than candles and prayer
to wake America up
from its sugar-coated nightmare
of constant murder

The death penalty
must be dead and gone

In the USA today, however
that chick with the scales
and the blindfold on
is also deaf and dumb to justice

I bite my tongue
but still I must say it:
Forgive them, Father

And against hope I pray
they will someday know
the evil they so willfully do.

Execution Poem

For all the killers, including us

If you were being executed,
what do you reckon:
better to be guilty of the crime
for which you will shortly hang
or fry or be shot
or perhaps lethally injected;
or innocent?
Would it make you feel better
as the noose starts to tighten
and you wait for the trap to spring;
or get strapped to the chair
with the electric helmet on your head,
knowing that at any moment
some unseen person will throw the switch
and turn your body to toast
(nor all that quickly either);
or tied to a post,
whether outdoors or in,
with the sun shining or no
(who cares? you've got a blindfold on),
maybe with a bull's-eye over your heart
before the volleys start to fly
and that paper target
also gets torn to shreds
(unless, of course,
it's simply one clean bullet
in the back of the head;
very tasteful);
or just lying there on a gurney
looking very much like a hospital patient,
but a patient who is scared to death
(ha, ha, that's a nice little pun,
don't you think?),
because this is one operation
from which you definitely will not recover...
would you feel better
in such wonderfully harrowing circumstances
knowing in your heart & mind--
heart that will soon stop beating
for good, mind that will...
(we don't know, for sure,
what happens to the mind, do we?);
knowing that you are (what do they say,
the jackasses who are so thrilled to kill you?)
paying for what you did,
getting your just desserts & all?
Or rather, as you plunge through the floor,
or however you terribly go from here,
go from a life lived well or badly
or lived, as with most of us,
somewhere in between,
go frightfully with pain & fear
into a karmically-disturbed eternity,
knowing instead
you are taking the place of another,
of the person who really did it,
who even now may be laughing their guts out
because you are the fall guy?
Would that make you feel better?
Or would it make any difference at all?
Or can anyone possibly know that
before the moment might come
when the neck snaps
and the shit slurps out
and the genitals sting wet
and...? Oh, damn, I forgot about cyanide,
with those great final gasps
as the gas burns all breath from the lungs.
That's another great way to say good-bye.
As was the guillotine,
as maybe the garrote still is
(the cold metal collar that gets a touch too tight);
or burning at the stake;
or...take your choice,
there are so many lovely ways to commit murder;
perhaps you can even think up a new one
at the very same moment you horribly die.
Too bad we can't all try it out
and then come back & decide
if we still want to go on
killing people
who have done something to annoy us,
but annoy us bigtime.
Too bad we all can't swing that way
just once in our too-brief lives
and still hang around a good while longer
and never forget
what it was really like
to go to hell from the gallows.

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