Death House Broadcast 1928


Our forebears –
public enforcement of
gallows set in a square –
whipping post –
ducking stools –
lashing –
branding –
maiming. . .
to set examples for
those who might have
or still be untouchable –
or to gawk at remains.

A practice of killing
this way, has vanished,
a part of history where
culprits, prisoners
packed court yards for
a public viewing.

Behind a wall of glass,
execution style, dying
among cheers of had
been friends and foes –
outside, numbers ten
fold, awaiting a siren,
a bell toll. (a radio
man begins)

In the death chamber,
Chains around ones legs
and arms… an empty
hall and cheering
from a private hell…
It begins at one hour
to midnight, when
children are sound
asleep – so men reveal
each tiny detail on a
modern radio –
will not alarm youth,
by revealing the

“Death House Broadcast.”

Material for sermons,
preaching, as if a tell
tale story came from God –
The death house, its’
gruesome facts, leading
to the execution (a man
on the radio tells of
what would come – to
tuck the children in their

Pew like benches,
surround a large chair,
equipped with leather straps…
People glare at the bible
carried by a priest about
to administer the last rights –
a cell door opens
rattling of many keys

uniformed guards march
without the pomp and
A knife in hand, a
guard bends down, slices
upward pant legs of the
prisoner, a signal, the
parade has begun.
The procession
moves on, thru doors
congregating near a chair.

Feverish red ants occupy
the prison now – (a radio
man softens his tone)
victim dazed, everything
twists turns and tightens
as he draws closer to eternity…

Something, what is it Jim?
Something is attached to his
brain, and now they are
reaching toward his feet,
up the slashes in his pants.

Wait, it’s nearly time –
people are holding candles
while others are screaming
kill the killer. Look, that’s
a black hood covering his eyes.

It’s over. A thin, gray wisp of
smoke curls up from under
the hood.
His hands are red, but
now white – the body
strained against straps –
he collapses.”


The radio man continued,
“now a doctor pronounces him

Back in the living room,
(Ladies and Gentlemen,
you have witnessed an
execution, you may not have
enjoyed the broadcast but
I hope it was instructive,
good night.)

One listener asks his
wife to bring a piece of
cold chicken from the frig –
another, a preacher, comes
up with a cool sermon
for Sunday’s service…
The judge tells his friend’s,
“It’s too bad.”
The sheriff at his favorite club,
smiles…”We saved on a silver


The family weeps.

  1. Avatar of Claudette Walker
    Claudette Walker says

    Nancy, Radio days…the depth they reached in all of us! Love it.

    1. Avatar of Nancy Duci Denofio
      Nancy Duci Denofio says

      Thanks Claudette – it’s special to have someone like yourself with so much talent enjoy my work. Sincerely, Nancy

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