Shadowland, a prose poem

Others are waiting too, savoring the taste of human sacrifice. It’s a long night under the chandeliers. The Governor waits to go to bed. His wife waits for him to go to bed.

See the blood-red
petals drop on linen
like an ax on a neck

How many ways to kill a man? Slowly, slowly is the common way. Deprivation slowly. Humiliation slowly. Degradation slowly. Slowly, slowly with poison water and poison air.

And for the others? The chair, the rope, the bullet, the dope.

As for the executioner, never forget him for a minute. Consider his cold coffee in a Styrofoam cup. He too struggles through this night of wonder.

Kill! Kill! Kill!
Sleep well, he’s told
It is the people’s will


Musical setting by Smooth Toad
Summer Brenner: vocal
G.P. Skratz: vocal
Hal Hughes: fiddle
Bob Ernst: percussion

Listen to an audio presentation of the work:

San Quentin PrisonPhoto courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation