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Sunday, April 23, 2017


by George Held

Image source: The Innocence Project

The state machinery for murder
executed its steps coolly and efficiently
in the killing of Ledell Lee.

So what if the blood on his shoes
and the hairs found at the scene
received no test for DNA?

So what if the Innocence Project
and Sister Helen Prejean protest
Ledell Lee might be not guilty?

So what if Camus warned against
executions as mere state-approved
murder? How many have heard

of Camus, Prejean, even DNA? How
many have thought hard about
the idea of state-approved murder

or resisted the confection that
medazolam’s nearing expiration date
justified eight executions in eleven days?

So the executioners poured three drugs
Into Lee: medazolam, a sedative, then
a paralyzer called vecuronium bromide—

hear the falling meter?—and a heart-
stopper, potassium chloride.
Each flawlessly performed its part.

Thus did the wheels of Arkansas justice
turn exceedingly well on 4/20/17
in the killing of Ledell Lee.

George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.Newshas received ten Pushcart nominations, including ones for both poetry and fiction in 2016. His new poetry chapbook is Phased II (Poets Wear Prada, 2016).