Two Poems

We All Lay Down

[audio link]

On September 21, 2011, Troy Davis 
was executed by the State of Georgia

I’m not saying Troy Davis is innocent.
Troy Davis said it.
Some witnesses said he was guilty,
then recanted.
Said they were coerced by police.
I’m not saying Troy Davis is innocent.
I’m saying there’s doubt.
I’m saying murder is murder,
especially state-sanctioned killing.
I’m saying lynching is still legal in Georgia;
ropes, no longer around necks,
strap men to gurneys
hold them there for four hours 
while learned judges deliberate.
No mercy.

I’m not saying Troy Davis is innocent.
I’m saying you could have been Troy Davis.
Or me.
Given other circumstances,
Clarence Thomas or Barack Obama
could have been Troy Davis.

I’m not saying Troy Davis is innocent.
I’m saying the state of Georgia is guilty.
I’m saying America is guilty.
I’m saying we’re all guilty.

We all lay down on the gurney 
and took the needle.

Your Cue

[audio link]

God is a million monkeys
chain-smoking Camels
flailing at Underwood keyboards
and since God has always existed
he’s been flailing away a long time.
So can you really be surprised
that he eventually churned out copy
with some semblance of plot
or that he finally got around
to writing you in as a character?

Now that you are here you can see
that you were inevitable.

The surprise of your existence
is no reason to get gaga
over this pack of primordial primates
because god has absolutely no idea
what he is doing.

If he had any idea, any design,
operated with any logic,
would he have conceived of babies 
blown to bits right out of their mothers arms,
nine and ten year old boys
recruited to die holding rifles,
sixteen year old sex slaves?

And when you are written out of the story
and you will be
soon, too soon,
don’t go thinking that you’ll be 
written into some heavenly sequel.

This is it,
your one appearance.
No one else holds your script.
You are the only one that knows your role.
This is your one chance.


—Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, WI