Volume 23, Number 2

The Summer Georgia Killed Troy Davis

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
—Gil Scott-Heron


My uncle drives through Joplin a couple days after the F-5
demolishes the town. He calls my mother: It’s awful out here.

Westboro Baptist thanks God for the dead,
prepares tie-dyed placards saying the same.

Family Radio claims there’s been a spiritual shift,
an invisible rapture, a starling tugging on chosen worms.

That summer, millions of us refuse to pay our debts.
Mathematics becomes a public enemy, a harbinger of decline,

intractable like the denied appeal, the cocktail miscarriage
that stops a man’s heart on a raised Georgia gurney.


The night after our prayers go limp while we refresh
the live-blogs, a man sleeping in the rescue mission

follows me to the sandwich shop: nineteen years
for murder, eleven days out. He needs thirty

bucks for an ID card to work again—free
to voters, but not offered to felons. He’s hungry, damn it,

swallowing a six-inch sub in a minute and change.
He asks to stop by the ATM with me before my lunch-

break ends. I hand him six quarters and three dollar bills,
say, You know better than that, man. This is what there is.


As the execution nears, a couple in layered hoodies talk
with a black-poloed priest about their wedding ceremony.

He assures them that in the end her family will forget
this parallel chapter, come to see blessings rooted in the day.

Her eyes close. Her head falls on the groom’s shoulder.
She says to the priest, It’s not gonna start out like that.

I turn away, reading a Supreme Court opinion. The justice claims
our Constitution won’t spare an innocent man from injection.

I observe the weakening gravity of home, how every particle,
starting on the world’s first day, flees from its point of origin.

—Benjamin Walker