Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thoughts on Capital Punishment, a poem by Rod McKeun.

Born in Oakland, California, in 1933, McKuen ran away from home at the age of eleven to escape an alcoholic stepfather and to send what money he could to his mother. After a series of jobs, from lumberjack, ranch hand, railroad worker to rodeo cowboy, McKuen began in the 1950s to excite audiences with his poetry readings, appearing with such well-known poets as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. McKuen's commercial success is unparalleled in the field of modern poetry. He also achieved considerable success as a songwriter, soundtrack composer, and singer. As a songwriter, he has contributed to the sale of over 100 million records. In addition, his humanitarian efforts have twice won him the prestigious Freedoms Foundation Award. McKuen retired from live performances in 1981. What a guy!

Thoughts on Capital Punishment by Rod McKuen

There ought to be capital punishment for cars
that run over rabbits and drive into dogs
and commit the unspeakable, unpardonable crime
of killing a kitty cat still in his prime.

Purgatory, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Those hurrying headlights coming out of the dark
that scatter the scampering squirrels in the park
should await the best jury that one might compose
of fatherless chipmunks and husbandless does.

And then found guilty, after too fair a trial
should be caged in a cage with a hyena’s smile
or maybe an elephant with an elephant gun
should shoot out his eyes when the verdict is done.

There ought to be something, something that’s fair
to avenge Mrs. Badger as she waits in her lair
for her husband who lies with his guts spilling out
cause he didn’t know what automobiles are about.

Hell on the highway, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Who kills a man kills a bit of himself
But a cat too is an extension of God.


Unknown said...

Great find!

Anonymous said...

this has always been my favorite McKeun poem - indeed, one of my favorite poems ever. I have quoted its last lines many times in the past 30 years.

Teresa Snead said...

This has always been my favorite mcKeun poem, actually fav POEM! I would just like to know what book I could find it in so I can throw away the 40 year old hand written copy I have been carrying around all these years.

Anonymous said...

This is a comically horrendous poem.

Unknown said...

Yeah this is garbage.

Jefferson Carter said...

A really awful poem. I used to use it as an introduction to my poetry writing classes--a prime example of what NOT to do!