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31 May 2013

The Shape of a Dead Man


I have the shape of a dead man
on the wall of my cell.
It was left behind by the last occupant.
He stood against the wall
and traced around himself with a pencil,
then shaded it in.

It looks like a very faint shadow,
it’s barely noticeable until you see it.
It took me nearly a week to notice it for the first time,
But once you see it you can’t un-see it.

I find myself lying on my bunk
and looking at it several times a day.
It just seems to draw the eyes like a magnet.
God only know what possessed him to do such a thing
but I can’t bring myself to wash it off.

Since they executed him,
it’s the only trace of him left.
He’s been in his grave almost five years now,
yet his shadow still lingers.

He was no-one and nothing.
All that remains of him is a handful of old rape charges
and a man-shaped pencil sketch.




From the diary of Damien Echols - an inmate on death row for 18 years. Via How to Survive Death Row in The Observer magazine, 26th May. 'And' omitted from the eighth line. Submitted by Lisa Oliver.

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