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Tuesday, April 07, 2015


by Wilda Morris

Anthony Ray Hinton free after nearly 30 years on Alabama Death Row —

     For Anthony Ray Hinton
“the ball of free will dropped from my hand”
~ Ishmael, in Moby Dick by Herman Melville

black male, poor
innocent, as if that matters
when the DA wants a crime solved quickly

call him a suspect
find his mother’s gun
from which the bullets were not fired
stuff him in a cell

don’t worry if his lawyer
is inadequate
don’t worry if his expert witness
is so inexpert he can hardly see
through the forensic microscope
has little experience in ballistics
is so lamentable the jury
laughs at him

ask for the death penalty
send him off to prison
to live in solitary on death row

without his family
without his friends
without his free will

fight all the way to the Supreme Court
to keep him there

until after his mother is dead
after his youth is gone
after he has almost forgotten
the feel of a loving touch
after decades of not making
significant decisions

when the court bounces
the ball of free will back to his hands
after thirty years

Wilda Morris, a past president of Illinois State Poetry Society, is workshop chair of Poets & Patrons of Chicago. She has won awards for free verse and formal poetry and haiku. She leads poetry workshops for children and for adults and has been widely published. She is retired from a career of teaching graduate student and coordinating a not-for-profit peace and justice organization. Her blog provides monthly contests for poets.