Social Justice Poetry

death penalty poems

An Unjust Law | A Social Justice Poem by Gil Hoy

Can’t get that execution
out of my head, damn.

Took 26 minutes to kill
him, some new-fangled
poison not the usual,
a half-baked horror show.

Sour drugs flowed through
blue veins, the prisoner
strapped to a gurney gasped,
vacant eyes staring,

rattling,
nose snorting,
choking almost guttural–
like food stuck in your
windpipe
on and on, convulsions.

By all accounts, he was
a horrible savage man

25 years ago,
raped, tortured and killed
a young woman with child,

just married, still to live
and be enjoyed.

So nothing cruel or unusual
here, an eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth,
Lex talionis, as prophesied.

But this death, more
like a Macabre blunder
at a public square picnic
hanging from days of old,
when the man’s head
in the too-tight hemp noose
might come clean off.

Minute after lingering
minutes, following terrible
60 second minutes
Strangling from the inside,
a mammal gasps for breath.

Heard that his blood in the
crowd had to cover their ears
and wipe their tears from
soaked ashen faces,
I say listen up, after what he did.

If you agree, show the
video play-back to your son,
so he can see what we do,
Though slow suffocation
is not for the squeamish,
something to Hide?

Murder: premeditation
and unlawful killing,
the state does you one better,
premeditation and ceremony.
Who are we to tell
the state what to do,
sounds A-OK to me.

Much ado about nothing.
Throw to hungry lions
crush them with fat elephants,
devoured by wild sweaty-toothed beasts
does the trick.
Tear them apart by Galloping horses,
burn him like an over-cooked
headless turkey for your Thanksgiving roast,
crucifixion, decapitation, boil until cooked.

Firing squad? Pass the loaded Gun
please. Stoning? A duplicitous
contest to see who casts the first
stone. Disembowelment, OK,
dismemberment, tie him to a
cannon and set the charge, so cool

your mouth just drips with blood
like a stale English Pudding.
Gas, hangings, electric chair,
That covers it.

But somewhere I read and
believed to the marrow, now
shaking terrified: Turn to him
the other cheek also, or we
will all be Toothless and Blind.

No one’s listening or caring
anymore.

Blood red Hearts disgorged on a
winding cobblestone trail that leads
to a distant dream.
That our eyes don’t hear anymore
and that tastes forgotten anyway.