Painful question of capital punishment

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CANBERRA poet John Paynter is moved to political commentary with a piece he calls “Capital Punishment”.

Poet John Paynter.

A Canadian, John has lived in Australia since 1972. He taught psychology at Sydney University for eight years and it was there he met Mary Ann (“my soulmate”). She died in April, 2016, and is featured in the poem.


I’m scared she says shiny and clear;

in her blue eyes, a single tear

rolls down her cheek as they arrive …

the icebergs, seeing if she’s alive –

    shine pencil lights, they all collide

    to see the agony inside.


We need more scans, the icebergs shout;

The boatman comes and sails her out.

An angel who is dressed in blue

races past and yells hey you!

    She needs her drug to actuate

    the pain,

        but she has come too late.


The scans are done amid great pain

the icebergs frosty – all in vain

Your wife is dying, nought we can do.
She will suffer,

so will you.

(Your cat and dog can die in peace –

One green injection, sweet release …

They leave pain-free, with dignity.


It makes me think of my sweet cat,

the one who died while in my lap,

The kindly face of vets while sad.

ensured my pal went while still glad

    to be with me and purring sweet …

        Instantly he is asleep.)


And then the ones who deal the death,

who come to take away her breath

with eyes as dark as any night –

and with no feeling for her plight

    take away her saline drip …

    a rule imposed by vicarship.


In a country ruled by fear

(secularity is not here)

the black-eyed icebergs cowards all –

bow to the serpent’s loathsome call.

    My beliefs take precedence –

    You can not make your own sense.

        I hereby articulate

        you do my wishes,

God is great.


And so, my sweet and loving wife

(who never harmed a soul in life)

lies in pain for days on end – …

watched by children, me, and friend.

    All are victims of this act –

    religious terrorist attack


The blue-robed serpent, shameless brute

blue tie matching his blue suit

whose deity he lets decide
on rules that we cannot abide –

    and with him others of his kind

    whose humanity is surely blind …

        who cling to visions we deride

        and cast the public’s votes



And in the place where death has reign

blue angels fight to ease the pain

while victims plead, eyes red with sorrow

For God’s sake! End my life tomorrow!

    Why hast though forsaken me?

        You’ve stolen our democracy


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