Humming to ranchera music on the radio,
I pick up the paper and see
they put down two more prisoners in Texas
bringing the state's total
to 232 executions since 1976.
George W. smiling on campaign trail,
his joke about fuzzy math.
I think of George W.--
pillar of the death penalty--
his state's murder of James Beathard
under clouds of doubt,
the 2,000,000 behind bars--
the mushrooming prison industry.
On page 2, shriveled babies with tubes
down their noses--
36 million victims to AIDS or HIV,
most of them in Africa
Nelson Mandela pleading with a crowd
not to shun the infected,
to help them instead.
I brush the babies off my mind,
who tested positive on arrival from Haiti
but told no one.
Three years later, she could no longer stand.
Her mother took her home away
from her junkie husband,
hid her in the spare room,
treated her with herbs until only
bones outlined the bed cover.
Pneumonia, the family said.
She was born with a weak chest.