Last Words

Posted: September 25, 2009 in prison, general, prisoner writing, Uncategorized
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Published in the New York Times Op-Eds on September 19, 2009. A listing of “last words” spoken by inmates before they were executed. The friend who sent it to me called it “pretty grim” and the man who forwarded it to her described it as a sort of “grim poetry.” I guess I don’t call it grim, as much as I call it a concise presentation of reality. We all come up on the end of life, one way or another, and there are atonements to be made, forgiveness to be sought, or final pleas to be rendered. The issue of whether or not executions themselves are grim (never mind morally or ethically right) is another matter. But for now I think I’ll let the listing of these last words stand on their own. Make of them what you will. At a minimum these quotes remind me that these are real men we are putting to death. Maybe what is grim is that up until this moment, we so easily dismiss them as nonhuman, or subhuman. Until they remind us of their mortality, and perhaps our own.

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