Poet Laureate Of The Condemned

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, January 29, 2002, the state of California put Stephen Wayne Anderson to death. He was the 10th person to be executed in the state of California since the reinstitution of the death penalty. Mr. Anderson was executed despite the wishes of the victims’ families that his sentence be commuted to life and despite the pleas of three trial jurors who no longer felt that the sentence of death was justified.

Mr. Anderson was executed also despite the fact that his life had redeeming value, and that, as the poet laureate of the condemned, he still had so much more to contribute to the world. Mr. Anderson’s writings represent his final words. They reflect a sense of compassion, an insight into the human condition, and a nobility of spirit that are exceedingly rare in prison, or outside it.

Stephen is gone, finally free from his concrete cage, but he will not be forgotten. It has been a privilege to represent him. We will miss him greatly.

On behalf of the entire Anderson legal team: Margo Rocconi, Robert Horwitz, Harry Simon, Elizabeth French, Debra Garvey, Virginia Gallegos, and Michael Pescetta

Unchained Visions #9
by Stephen Wayne Anderson * March 18, 1990

If no other misses you, I will:
I will sense the emptiness
where once you breathed,
I shall hear the silence of your voice.
I will not be made of stone
but shall weep by choice.

If no other longs for you, I will:
your memory is etched in my heart;
each night I will dream of you,
I shall find you in life’s subtle art.
Every moment will be that much less
because you no longer play a part.

If no other knows how you suffered, I will:
I know how you counted each passing hour,
I know how that absence once ached,
of how you gave us all renewed power
as the air became
both foul and sour.

If no other knows you have died, I will:
your ash shall not be cast away unobserved.
Your dreams shall not die.
They live on with every gentle breeze,
they thrive so that none can deny
that death is life and this torment surely frees.