Wise Doctor Calvin

by flammeusgladius


Wise Doctor Calvin thought decapitation

adequate, but the hotter heads prevailed.

Servetus had denied the Trinity:

the flames would have this tasteless heretic.

It was an unexpected mercy: he

would feel no flames; before the red points nailed

his nerves, he would enjoy asphyxiation–

and, afterward, whatever he was due.

Now history declares all burnings sick

except in utero: though understated,

history, there for everyone to read,

is something we must pay attention to,

even accept. So now we’re all agreed:

Servetus should have been decapitated.

–Tom Riley

(First appeared in Art:Mag, November 1988.)