by J.A. Calkins
Poem I wrote that won 1st place for a contest at my university: "Anatomy of Injustice"
| Termination of the Guilty
Who is he to judge the length of a life?
Who is he to take that life away?
A pre-planned murder is unjust,
So why do we let him stay?
It is not fair for a little girl to be raped and killed
Because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is not fair for an honorable citizen to be slayed in their own home
Because they happened to be selected for an unmerited crime.
The man who hides behind the gun,
Who hides his face behind a mask,
He's locked away in jail,
But never condemned for that task.
He sits in his cell with a warm enough bed,
Three meals a day, an hour with a TV.
Playing cards, lifting weights,
Every morning drinking coffee or tea.
Meanwhile a family stands in the rain,
Watching their loved one through blurry eyes laid down in the dirt
Where maggots crawl and squirm, eating each buried body
With a malicious intent to completely subvert.
Back in jail the indictable criminal faces twenty or so years in jail;
All of his time spent lounging around in a certain kind of contentment
Because after all he isn't the one crying himself to sleep at night
With an aching heart of loss; he feels no resentment.
Jails are filling up; all of the cells are full.
Tax-payers are the ones that keep prisons intact,
But they aren't the ones who committed murder,
Yet they pay for every single criminal's act.
Every murderer is guilty but some, indeed, do need treatment.
The one who has the hazy eyes and a darkened brain;
Why put him in a jail instead of a hospital?
Why not help the man become sane?
The man whose thoughts are foggy,
And doesn't know his identity;
The one who cannot count to ten,
And cannot speak correctly;
He does not know wrong from right,
Or even two plus two.
The only thing he knows is
How to tie his shoe.
Why wouldn't we help him learn
And teach him wrong from right?
Why not help the man
See his inner light?
The man we call Edward Lee Elmore,
An innocent man at heart,
Is found guilty by many courts
Because knowledge, he can't impart.
This man is shy,
His vocabulary insufficient.
The prosecutor's only evidence,
A single fingerprint.
They try him because he's colored,
And they don't bother to investigate further.
They want to declare this man guilty
Because, honestly, is it worth the bother?
This is what happens when laws are unfit,
Instead of help, Elmore receives punishment.
Yet the truly guilty are given time
To prove their non-existent innocence;
Given a good enough lawyer
They can prolong their sentences.
This is why there is no room,
No cells left in the prisons.
The ones who should be dead
Are instead discarding their deadly sins.
So this is government's ruling;
This law is most unfair.
But there's nothing we can do
Except repeat our daily prayer.
"Dear God, I am so scared;
I don't want my children to die.
Please protect them;
If necessary take my life."
Author: J.A. Calkins