& the state of California executes


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& the state of California executes


a man who wrote children’s books

twenty four years on death row

during the twelve minutes


it took to find a vein in his

left arm

he joked with them


the warden of San Quentin

said everything depends on the veins

& how accessible they are


& also it was a high-pressure

assignment for the nurse

getting the needle in before so many people


the man was strapped into a dentist’s chair

in a room that was painted sea-green

green is a relaxing colour


a photograph

shows a man with a white beard & black

hair & wire-frame glasses


a blue prison shirt

contrasts with his palely gleaming mahogany skin

governor & ex-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger


the man who signed his death warrant

starred in Kindergarten Cop & Terminator

a post on a website about Collateral Damage said


it was not as bad as Paris Texas

one out of one people found the post useful

the mother of one of the victims said


that his death would finally bring justice

to her stepson

on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s site he said


we are going to make this state

the greatest state

in the greatest country in the world


thank you all very much for

your support & hard work

he did not wear a tie in the photograph


the man he executed was wearing a prison-issue shirt

his editor attended

the protest against his death


December 2005
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William Wall is the author four novels, the most recent of which, This Is The Country (2005), has been described as a 'broad attack on the Celtic Tiger'. He has also published poetry and short stories.

2 Responses

  1. William Wall

    November 6, 2012 10:27 pm

    Well, Des, I suppose he was lucky he didn’t get life! (I know, a sick joke). But the whole system is incredible – not just the brutal fact that the state executes people but the circumstances and ritual of the thing. And the language. And the fact that they can get doctors and nurses to carry it out. And so on and so on.