My professor and her friends stood outside the governor's mansion
where Rockin' Bob screwed Deborah Winger.
End capital punishment. Every Wednesday
I joined them in line. Drivers ignored us.
The state had not executed anyone for twenty years,
so they thought, why bother?
But the law was still on the books.

When I published my professor's essay,
my cowardly boss made me print a response.
It is the worst mistake I've made.
When I tried to print poems by a man on Death Row,
my boss outted me.

I knew someone
who knew someone
who knew the girl he raped and murdered.

In night school, creative writing, I taught a man from Texas
brought by the state to begin executions again.
He described in a poem the collapsing and folding of the flesh envelope.
After I moved away, they started killing again.

About the Poet

James Cihlar is the author of Undoing (, and his poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Quercus, Bloom, Minnesota Monthly, Northeast, The James White Review, Briar Cliff Review, Verse Daily, and in the anthologies Aunties (Ballantine), Regrets Only (Little Pear Press), and Nebraska Presence (Backwaters Press). The Books Review Editor for American Poetry Journal, he has also published reviews in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and on the poetry site Coldfront. The recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship for Poetry and a Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner, Cihlar lives in St. Paul.