For A Breath We Tarry

“Man,” said Mordel, “possessed a basically incomprehensible nature. I can illustrate it, though: he did not know measurement.”

“Of course he knew measurement,” said Frost, “or he could coldnever have built machines.”

“I did not say that he could not measure,” said Mordel, “but that he did not know measurement, which is a different thing altogether.”


Mordel drove a shaft of metal downward into the snow.

He retracted it, raised it, held up a piece of ice.

“Regard this piece of ice, mighty Frost. You can tell me its composition, dimensions, weight, temperature. A man could not look at it and do that. A man could make tools which would tell him these things, but he still would not know measurement as you know it. What he would know of it, though, is a thing that you cannot know.”

“What is that?”

“That it is cold,” said Mordel, and tossed it away.

—Roger Zelazny, “For A Breath I Tarry”

Last night there was to be a double executionYEEHAW!—in Oklahoma.

A by-god two-fer!

Guaranteed to get them old shriveled wrinkled flaccid done-long-gone-retired white-boy little-itty-bitty rods, a-rectin’! Like they ain’t been since them good ol’ days when any old good ol’ boy could just go out and rope, castrate, and hang hisself a Negro.

Oklahoma is the fetid stinking infected butthole of the United States.

Wherever you are, in this country, if you are not in Oklahoma: you are better off.

Oklahoma is such an irredeemable Hellpit that once, there in the early 19th Century, the white people grasped firmly hold of the eastern sections of the country, they shipped the non-dead-from-smallpox-blankets Indians there, to Oklahoma, along the Trail Of Tears.

The place considered such a dead-end station, such a trash heap, that only the remnants of Indians, were fit to live there.

Later in the 19th Century, of course, the white people ran utterly wild, and commanded that their seed spread across all the lands of the North American continent—in places all and every.

And so the Indians were butt-kicked out of Oklahoma, so that paleface cornholing banjo-playing incest-ravenous droolers who had never touched the monolith could settle there in their stead.

I have been to Oklahoma. And there I learned, first-hand, that the state is most notable for two things. Sand. And fucking your sister. Or, failing that, your mother.

In 2004 I suffered from a serious disease that caused me to obsessively follow the prospects of various candidates for the United States Senate.

I was then fascinated that, in Oklahoma, the Republican candidate for that state’s Senate seat, Tom Coburn, could not, in the polls, rise above around 44% of the vote. While his Democratic challenger, Brad Carson, hovered around 33%.

More than a third of the electorate, until the final days, could not bring themselves to commit.

And little wonder. For Coburn was a man out of the 11th Century. Who ran on a vow that he would burrow across the land thrusting his hands up all and every woman’s vagina, to ensure she would not have an abortion.

While Carson was a sane and sensible 21st Century man. But also a Democrat.

In the end, Coburn won, of course. The undecided voters of Oklahoma just could not bring themselves to vote for a man who was sane. But also a Democrat.

Coburn went on to a shiveringly embarrassing career in which he served as harbinger of actual genetic mutantslegal idiot like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

And, particularly, Rand Paul.

Paul is a howling imbecile who would be declared a literal “idiot” under California law (pursuant to PC §26), and who memorably wept in filibuster against the use of drones against overseas individuals, but then clicked his heels together and raised the Sieg Heil salute in demanding that drones be deployed domestically against “ni**ers coming out of liquor stores.”

I no longer suffer from a disease that causes me to obsessively follow politicians, their peregrinations, and their polls.

Today, I follow, instead, the striving of growing seeds, out of the earth.

These days, now, I am sane.

Nobody in the criminal-justice system in this country really wants to any longer inflict the death penalty.

All know that it is at least embarrassing. If not barbaric.

They know that the death penalty is a relict. That almost nobody inflicts it anymore. And that they shouldn’t, either.

They know that of those few nations who do, outside the US, inflict the death penalty, can be counted such garden-states as Iran, currently suffering from a youngloood atavist ants-in-the-pants Islamist disability, and China, which these days executes more people than the rest of the world combined—that nation struggling to surmount a 5000-year-old history steeped in blood, up to the elbows, in both avidly inflicting torture, and death.

That we know that nobody in the criminal-justice system in this country really wants to any longer inflict the death penalty is evidenced in the fact that even the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court, has been drawn into the Heller-esque absurdity of ensuring that those put to death are not put to death in a “cruel and unusual” manner, within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the nation’s high court determined that the death penalty was, across the several states, being applied in a “cruel and unusual” manner.

Associate Justices to the United States Supreme Court William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall, the two finest, highest justices ever to serve on the court, wild bill, where coover saw himcould not, in Furman, convince their brethren that the death penalty itself constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Thus, the Court’s decision held that the death penalty was unconstitutional only as then applied.

And so, it was only necessary that justices like Douglas and Marshall retire and/or die, so that they could be replaced—by Republican presidents—by more or less soulless animatronic beings who would determine, as they subsequently did, that the several states had sufficiently amended their death-penalty laws so as to travel them outside the ambit of the Eighth Amendment. So that, as applied, the death-penalty laws of the several states, were now constitutional.

I have been interned in the law since 1998. It pays the rent.

I work, solely, in criminal defense.

When these people—and some of them I personally know—began arguing that the method of death, inflicted upon those executed, was itself violative of the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution, I thought they were flailing way out there, and had not a chance of a prayer to succeed.

I was wrong.

That they have succeeded, says to me, that, as I set forth above, nobody in the criminal-justice system in this country really wants to any longer inflict the death penalty.

For there is now all this intensive absurd burrowing into whether this or that cocktail of death-drugs is or is not able to pass muster under the Eighth Amendment.

With this cocktail, the state is killing a person, but it must needs be determined that, in killing him (or her), the killing is not perpetrated in a “cruel and unusual” manner.

They have to know, these judges, now splitting hairs on these matters, that they are wading wholly into Heller territory.

They have to.

(What a waste. Gling brloing ghlou frim. Again I am in waste. Ghling yhoui frgom. I can’t communicate. Frouhg youir tyrh. And no one reads. Ghyety fhryg liou thrid ndhehd.)

And then, last night, in Oklahoma, it all went very, very wrong.

They were going to—HOT DAMN!—burn two Negroes in one night!

Just like the olden days!

Before King and Parks and NAACP and ni**er-lovin Supreme rectumCourts and that Kenyan in the White House and all that rest that mean we cain’t no longer be Americans.

But the first Negro they intended to burn, they gave him the currently sanctified three-drug cocktail, and he writhed and moaned and flopped around, and eventually they unstrapped him, and took him to a hospital, and tried there to save his life. But he perished there of a heart attack.

Just on the absurdity level alone, you would think somebody would step forward and say, “We tried to kill him, but then when it didn’t work quickly enough, the killing, we took him to a hospital, and there tried to save him, and then when that didn’t work, and he died, then we were bummed, because we didn’t revive him, so we could kill him, and so, in this state-sanctioned death business, all and all is absurdity and nonsense, and so let’s put an end to it.”

After the first Negro in Oklahoma didn’t timely die, and he was then rushed to the hospital to try to save him, so he could later officially be made to die, but then he died, at the hospital, where he wasn’t supposed to, they, the State killers, they decided they wouldn’t try to, this night, make the second Negro die. At which time, the second Negro, he might say:

Free at last.

Free at last.

Thank God Almighty.

Free at last.

The botched execution will have a huge effect, Deborah W. Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School and a death penalty expert, told the Los Angeles Times. “The entire world was watching this execution.”

The death penalty in this country is over.
It was over in 1972, when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional as applied.
Unfortunately, that was one of a number of Supreme Court decisions where the high court was 50-200 years of the people.
The people are currently drug down, knuckles dragging on the ground, by “populism.” Which translates, simply, as “who do we hang?”

As Robert Stone astutely observed: “American populism, notorious as a pious front for venal corruption, [is] the curse of this nation, and now, empowered by American wealth and resources, a worldwide plague.”

It is “populism” that wants Negroes to suffer and die, and suffer in their execution.

That people on the “left” may be attracted to populism, simply demonstrates that they are neither “left,” nor firing enough brain cells to qualify as actual evolved post-monolith “people.”

The death penalty in this country became for sure over when in 1977 Robert Coover published The Public Burning.

There, at the denouement, Ethel Rosenberg, innocent, is strapped to the electric chair, placed in the center of Times Square, and electrified before the assembled greats of the nation.

Her body, held only at head, groin, and one leg, is whipped like a sail in a high wind, flapping out at the people like one of those trick images in a 3-D movie, making them scream and duck and pray for deliverance. Her body, sizzling and popping like firecrackers, lights up with the force of the current, casting a flickering radiance on all those around her, and so she burns—and burns—and burns—as though held aloft by her own incandescent will and haloed about by all the gleaming great of the nation.

We are but fireflies. We flicker for a night or two, and then are gone.

Especially considering how our time is so short, no one among us should have the power to abbreviate that time. Or command that we spend it in a cage.

I, we, meanwhile, am of this person:

with a host of furious fancies
whereof I am commander
with a burning spear and a horse of air
to the wilderness I wander

by a knight of ghosts and shadows
i summoned am to tourney
ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end
methinks it is no journey


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When I Worked

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