November 6, 2001

November 6, 2001 / after 41 years / the state of new mexico executed a prisoner / they had to call in outside experts / it had been so long / no one remembered how to do an execution / they tried to call in the doctors / but “first do no harm” / and the doctors wouldn’t help / so they called in the texans / and the texans taught them how to execute a man / my father thinks the drug didn’t work / didn’t numb the man enough / and the man felt the pain of his heart stopping / my father thinks that / because he was there / watching the execution with the girlfriend of the man / my father was there / because he was the last person / standing between the man and his death / and when the man said he’d rather die than spend another day in prison / my father argued against it / but the court said the man was competent / so competent they killed him / and after he died / my father told the crowd about me / because on November 6, 2001 / i was 8 / one year younger / than the girl the man murdered / back in 1986 / and people always ask me / “why did your dad defend the man” / “he knew he was guilty” / but that’s not the right question / the right question is / “why did your dad tell you / he talked about you at an execution” / after all / you were only 8.



Bella Pori is a government employee who writes poetry on her lunch breaks. Her poetry can be found in forthcoming issues of Fearsome Critters, Barking Sycamores and the Stillwater Review, among others. Her writing can be found at