The news has broken that Brisbane born Scott Rush of Bali 9 (drug smuggling) infamy has escaped the firing squad and will instead serve life in prison.

I was very relieved on hearing this and wrote a poem ‘Death Penalty’ for the occasion. My poem has been published today over at Poetry24 (‘where news is the muse’).

Follow this link to read the poem at Poetry24.

It was by strange coincidence that I had just finished reading the non-fiction novel ‘In Cold Blood‘ by Truman Capote, when I heard the news about Rush.

What a book!

It’s going to take me a while to recover from reading about the ruthless slaughter of four members of the Clutter family in 1959 by Richard ‘Dick’ Hickock and Perry Smith.

Both men were executed by hanging for their crimes in the Kansas State Penitentiary.

18 thoughts on “Death Penalty

  1. In Cold Blood is written masterfully – a true story written in the form of a novel, with all the effective elements of a novel (character, identification, plot, suspense, etc.,) something to aspire to 🙂

  2. It’s an amazing book … I totally agree! I know what you mean about feeling like it will take a while to ‘recover’ from it. I couldn’t believe how intense a book it was. Such amazing writing.

    1. Thanks for recommending the book in the first place Tracey (you and Thomma Lyn) – a long time ago now, after I wrote one of my prison poems ‘Christmas on the Inside’ – I have been having a few nightmares after reading it but it is definitely worth it – hard to explain the effect, but Truman writes in such a way that even the horrible perpetrators are made ‘human’.

  3. HUGS Gabe and congratulations on your poem being published!
    I’m a huge Capote fan. In Cold Blood was actually the first book successfully written as reportage masquerading as a novel that detailed something from within and without. Truman talks about it here :

    Truman fell in love with one of the killers, Perry Smith and it really did a number on his soul. I think it was the beginning his emotional unravelling. Oh the price artists can pay for their work. As always Gabe, your blog is the flashpoint for thought and discussion of important social issues.

    1. I read that people thought he fell in love with Perry (though that is up for debate) but he definitely had a lot in common with the short killer – I can imagine you would develop an ‘intense’ relationship with someone on death row if you had to interview them over and over again and listen to their whole story – I had ambivalent feelings about Perry, that’s for sure (whereas I had no time whatsoever for Dick Hickock). Unfortunately I can’t watch the youtube video as it says it won’t play in my country – huh – anyway, my stupid speakers still don’t work – haha – thanks Val for your wonderful comment.

  4. I too was relieved when I heard the news about Rush… and it is great to see your poem has found another home. In true Blood is on my must read list… oh, to have more time to read!

  5. I am happy to see a social-political-thought poem. There are not enough of that. And great to come over to that place again (last time I was introduced to it by Mark but forgot all about it).

    1. They are always on the lookout for new poems (as they post one a day usually) – you should put your hat in the ring (if the right news event arrives, of course) – thanks Dhyan 🙂

      1. It is usually, in this part of the world, the wrong news that arrive (or rather hit).

        I have been trying to stay away from that for many years now, the political situation I mean, though I am always keeping an open eye on the happening. But I yet not able to think of it in the terms needed for a lyrical action.

        I will surly keep that in mind too, perhaps that can be the right trigger.

  6. A contentious one, Gabrielle – drug mules “make their choices” too and some drug users also have “brains to match” – I don’t see Scott Rush as an innocent but am glad that he has escaped the death penalty – thought-provoking poem

  7. It is a relief he escaped the death penalty. I think he was very young and just didn’t consider the consequences of being a drug mule well enough – it doesn’t excuse what he did – but I regard things like abusing children and rape as far more heinous than smuggling drugs yet we keep those scumbags alive in jail for years. I don’t know about the death penalty at all – it is such a loaded issue. It is great to see such things being discussed.

    1. The death penalty issue is very complex, but one thing that got to me, reading In Cold Blood (and other things I’ve seen on tv) is how long it takes to execute the people and how it’s not painless (up to 20 minutes with the hanging and sometimes the injections don’t work properly – its just horrific); plus there is always the possibility of an innocent person being executed; and given the years and years of appeals – the expense and farce of the whole thing of people on death row for decades. It is good to discuss these things Selma (even though we don’t have the death penalty in Australia).

  8. Congratulations – you are getting a lot of work published! (Just don’t celebrate with the Gecko, I hear that dragonfly is on today’s menu.)

  9. Interesting post, Gabrielle.

    I too was relieved to hear about Rush’s good news. One stupid mistake shouldn’t cost someone their life, or even put them in jail. The death penalty is vile and moraly bankrupt, and jail – especially for those who’ve simply fucked up – makes criminals out of people who are inherently good.

    Geez, that makes me sound like a limp-wristed bleeding heart, which, I guess, I kind of am. But it’s just about working out the most appropriate way to punish people. If a serial rapist gets life imprisonment, then I don’t spare them a second thought.

    Also, In Cold Blood is a truly extraordinary book – I agree with you. And, like you, it took me a long time recover from it. The quality of the writing is so high; check out that final paragraph, it just blows me away.

    1. Thanks for your great comment Nigel 🙂 It is a complicated issue (punishment) but I agree with all you say and especially that the death penalty is not the way to go. The last paragraph in the book In Cold Blood just blew me away 1. because I didn’t want the book to finish and the ending just summed up the whole thing and 2. such beautiful wording – the description of Sue and the comparison with what the wonderful Nancy would have been like, and the ‘the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wind’ just gave me the shivers – ghostly, poetic! If I was ever to write a thesis on a literary novel (and that would never happen) than this book would be perfect – jammed packed with the good stuff.

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