Man Convicted of Killing Wife Second Time

I started reading Peter Pereira last year. His books are well written and organized, but I must honestly confess that due to personal bias, I am most attracted to his poems about language. Even though he is so well known as a doctor poet, those poems compel me, but not as much as his explorations of language and grammar. Many poets right now are preoccupied with similar themes, but they focus on playing on language without getting to the true ideas or the essence of what is going on. “Man Convicted of Killing Wife Second Time” is particularly striking because of how open to interpretation most headlines are. It also struck me as important because of how general much of the language used in non fiction about crime, is.

“Man Convicted of Killing Wife Second Time”

The Seattle Times, April 2, 2002


What fractured syntax! And hard to say

which is worse: that he’d hack her to pieces

in the bathtub as the children slept,

or that then years later he’s convinced enough

of his innocence, to drag himself to trail again.


Either way the mother of these kids

is still gripping a lily, her name bolded

across headlines, killed all over again –


hatchet wounds fresh as the crime scene photographs

of blood blotting the suburban rambler’s hallway.


Calm and contrite, he resembles a parish priest,

not the tough Vietnam vet from whose temper

she once cowered. And it’s almost Shakespearean

now, the way he wrings his hands, as if enough

conviction could somehow wash them clean.



By Peter Pereira from his book, What’s Written on The Body

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