Pagosa Springs Artists

The Sentencing Hearing

The bang of a gavel brings

everyone to attention...

as the man in black enters unceremoniously,

walks directly to the raised oak dias

at the front of the courtroom, sits down...

and the inevitable rituals of this judicial

proceeding begin.  Suit-and-tie witnesses

approach the stand on queue

from the rear, are quickly sworn in

and respectfully questioned.  They tell

stories of Latin-named medicines long

prescribed, behavior modification goals

sought and missed (lapses duly recorded),

child-raising mistakes admitted, as well as

observations of his sister, the one who is

a family practice physician...

while the judge, at the front and above it all,

watches intently and, despite his unruly hair,

rules quickly on all objections.


So it plays out smoothly, as if a staged

drama or well-rehersed theatre...

where the only audience of record is

the deliberative gray-haired judge...

but sometimes the lawyers parry, and

in their closing statements tarry, retracing

their side's most favorable points...

which the judge slowly repeats

in his closing remarks, especially those

that most impressed him.  Then His Honor

abruptly gives out the sentence and

quickly walks from that rooom...

as the baliff leads our son,

without even a goodbye,

by a side door,




first published in The Rockford Review

also published in BEHIND PRISON WALLS Chapbook

©2010 Bonnie Manion


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