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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


by Jacqueline Kudler

*Executed by lethal injection,
San Quentin, California
December 13, 2005

If the sun ever burned through that day
it happened somewhere else.
All day the deep chill insinuated itself
under doors, through bedroom louvers,
down the backs of our collars.
All day we waited for the clemency
that never came, while the good
folk, fog-cloaked, marched over
Wolfe Grade, gathered at the prison
gates with signs and speeches.

I did not march with them. I'm tired of
candlelight vigils and tired of whining.
I'm tired of not understanding how
half the people anywhere think what
they think about guns or justice.
I'm tired of the cold. So I cooked up
a pot of curried pea soup for supper
and went to bed before the Late News.

But we led him, shackled, down
the long corridor— the big man,
a vast embarrassment of blazing health—
laid him on the table, positioned him
with infinite care, precision, the way
they prep a patient for the OR, only
this time, what he needed to be
cured of was his life.

And all the while, The Select watched on:
the vengeful and the long-aggrieved,
the ever-avid press—watched on
until the last spasm of the chest
the last flutter at the throat.
What part of this procedure, Dear God,
am I not understanding?

Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”