Volume 31, Number 4

My Cousin's Murderer Walks into the Courtroom

My cousin’s murderer walks into the courtroom
in Cuyahoga County, but too, unbidden by me
on channel five “Live Time” suddenly streaming
onto my Facebook page where a crowd pops up
at the chatroom sidebar. “Who’s this?” “Guy
who killed the couple in Canton.” “He’s a monster.”

He does not look like a monster.
He looks like a man in a long-sleeved white shirt.
Three judges keep asking if he understands.
He says yes. He does not. I do not.
I want to understand. I loved her. Everyone did.

The chatroom takes on the air of “festive cruelty,”
the virtual take on the prison gate at executions.
Instead of posters, postings: “Get out
Old Sparky.” “Fry him. Fry him,” they type.
“I want to see him fry,” says the woman who first
said to me that she is a Christian.

They want my cousin’s death compounded
with their interest. They believe a third death
will even things up—a “necrophilic, insensible” belief,
Unamuno called the crowd’s cheering for death itself.
Her life was matchless and yet, the judges give them
what they want, a death sentence. It should be criminal.

—Diane Kendig

first published in Strange Fruit: Poems on the Death Penalty, edited by Sarah Zale and Terry Persun (Sun City West, AZ: Wildflowers Press)