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Explanation
 
. . . on awaiting the execution of
Nicolas Jacques Pelletier, highwayman,
at the Place de Grève,
by means of a machine, 1792
 
It was the good Doctor who urged the assembly
to reintroduce the use of
this wonderful machine.
       Certainly,
as he has already explained,
it is the most painless and uniform
method
ever devised
for executing criminals.
 
Watch now, how the blade—
       and it has already been satisfactorily
       demonstrated
       on the cadavers
       of Bicêtre—
watch how in one swift travel
that weighty blade cleanly
severs the brain
from the body.
 
No longer—after today—can any
of our noble ones
lay claim
to the exclusive privilege of execution
by decapitation.
 
       Indeed, by far
La Petite Louison
is the most humane and advanced
method
ever devised
for disposing of all those
we consider
unnecessary.
 
Carolyne Butler
(Copyright © 2000)
Originally published in
Half Tones to Jubilee, Summer 1988