Connie Hawkins 1942-2017

John Thompson 1962-2017


How can it be that well-known thieves
never pay for a life of crime
but walk free while victims grieve
the loss of invaluable time

Connie Hawkins forever denied
the years he would have soared
John Thompson locked inside
The only exit:  death’s door


Hawkins could dunk in the 6th grade
ruled the courts of Bed/Stuy
elegant electric moves made
to cries of “Who is this guy?”

“The Hawk”: an act you had to see
and a teammate was heard to say
He didn’t break the laws of gravity
but was  pretty slow to obey

In the beginning was Elgin Baylor
and ever after there was “The Doctor”
and in between came the Saviour
the first to walk on water

He garnered national attention
and as the train left the station
his name was casually  mentioned
in a gambling investigation

he did nothing wrong it was clear
except to know someone who did
But just think how it might appear!”
so no career for this kid

He played through this indignity
but of course he never forgot
nine years in lesser leagues
and finally got his shot

A wounded, battered body by then
and still he put on a show
but oh what might have been
we can never know

His style was way before his time
he was Jordan before Michael
punished when there was no crime
part of the endless cycle

Rumors, innuendo
kept him in his place
a unique case, we pretend, though
we know it’s all about race


John Thompson bound for death
fourteen years on death row
a case so weak it takes your breath
wheels of justice turn pretty slow

Sometimes they don’t even move
or they crush who’s in the way
there should be more than  “J’accuse
for the state to kill its prey

Thirty days till execution
(what a chilling word)
his lawyers proved that the prosecution
Destroyed evidence never heard

Retried and easily acquitted
with no testimonial lies
five D.A.s were complicit
conviction-rate the prize

Fourteen million awarded him
recompense for rage
Louisiana tortured him
solitary in a cage

Fourteen million awarded him
but not a dime he’d see
the Supreme Court thwarted him
Justice Thomas Irony

The D.A. office attempted murder
but they could not be sued
what happened here went no further
no punishment ensued

He founded “Resurrection after Exoneration
lest anger turn to cancer
he fought for judicial reformation
hoping to find an answer

For which there can be no excuse
but until it happens to us
when someone stands falsely accused
we say, “Life isn’t always just

But until we see it’s you and me
awaiting execution
we cannot be truly free
we are the prosecution

That we are apart is a fiction
at our peril we ignore
prison is our jurisdiction
until everyone can soar

Let this be our benediction:
we were meant to soar


Dennis Caraher


Click here to learn more about The Innocence Project

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