Capital Crime

The night wind does no harm
the morn­ing waxes warm
a bach­e­lor picks a wife
a hus­band sticks a knife
into a lover’s heart
a wife and hus­band part
a mother bears a child
the sum­mer air is mild
a fugi­tive returns
a soul for ven­gence burns
a sis­ter chokes a sob
a sher­iff does his job
a father leaves at morn
a child is left for­lorn
a jury in its room
decides a mortal’s doom
the chap­lain preaches hope
the hang­man knots his rope
the war­den winds his watch
the doc­tor drinks his scotch
a hole is lined with lime
the scaf­fold scolds “It’s time.”




Wiley Clements has had work in Per Con­tra Spring and The New For­mal­ist. A full-length col­lec­tion of his poems, enti­tled Yes­ter­day, or Long Ago, was pub­lished in 2004. He lives in Lewis­burg, Pennsylvania.