Death Row is a scary, dark poem about a prison guard who works on the cell block where men wait to be executed. It was inspired by an old song called “Ellis Unit One” but I changed a lot of the words.
I was fresh out of the army
It was back in 1992.
I was hungry for some work,
But I didn’t have a clue.
Well I couldn’t find a job
So I returned to my hometown
I met a nice young woman,
Got married and settled down.
So I turned up at the prison
The warden hired me on a whim
Just like my daddy before me
And my grandaddy before him
And I worked on every cell block
Watching convicts come and go
But then one day they transferred me
To the one they call Death Row.
Well, my daddy used to tell me
When I was just a little kid
About the long nights at the prison
And exactly what they did.
And how they used to take the men
And strap them in the chair
And then all the lights went out
And a chill rose in the air.
Things have changed a lot since then
The way things always must
Today they use a needle
And the chair is gathering dust
Well, I’ve seen men fight like lions
And I’ve seen them go like lambs
And I’ve helped to drag them in there
When they couldn’t even stand
And I’ve heard their mothers crying
When they heard that big door slam
And I’ve heard the sounds of silence
When no one gave a damn.
Last night I dreamed I woke up
With a needle in my wrist
And something cold and black
Was pulling on the switch.
And I couldn’t move a muscle
There were straps across my chest
And even Jesus couldn’t save me
Although I’m sure He tried his best
Sometimes I read the bible
It says you reap just what you sow
Some nights I wake up screaming
Just like I’m sitting on Death Row.