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The plants growing by the railway bank are
five feet in height, prolific in bloom.
A late-afternoon shower freshens each blossom.
The blue sky darkens at dusk, when the sun is
swallowed by the earth, far, far away.  A ’bo hops
a boxcar, springing up from the ballast beneath two
shiny rails.  The Great Evening-Primrose
perfumes the air, entices a pollinating moth.
The earth’s silver moon kisses yellow flowers.
Under such softness, the railroad flowers open fully:
An act performed nightly from June to September.
But by morning, the blossoms have closed in their rest,
and lovers of a different persuasion,
who perused the night with radios and listened for
the whistle of a train, greet the dawn with its
waving engineers and have their cameras ready.

first published in Southern Hum and later in Paper Snowflakes, available from Southern Hum Press

ALABAMA NAACP URGES GOV. BOB RILEY TO STAY MAY 3RD EXECUTION

Edward Vaughn, President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference urged Alabama Gov. Bob Riley to stay the execution of death row inmate Aaron Jones. The U.S. District Court denied Aaron Jones a stay not because the lethal injection issue lacked merit, but only because he waited too long to make the claim! Now the State wants to execute Jones before the courts review Alabama’s lack of a lethal injection protocol. The hearing is scheduled for October.

It appears the state is trying to kill as many deaths row inmates before there is a ruling on the legality of Alabama’s Lethal Injection Protocol.

Esther Brown, Chairperson of the Alabama NAACP Death penalty moratorium committee stated, “It appears that Alabama will once more buck the tide when it comes to issues concerning the death penalty.”

Vaughn states, “at the same time as Alabama is trying to attract businesses to the State it refuses to review its stone age death penalty law. This Myopia will surely cause a National and International backlash from business interests, especially from the European Union that has outlawed the death penalty in all its member nations.”

The following states have halted executions because of lethal injection issues:

They are Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

President Vaughn said, “it is time Alabama joined the Civilized world and not only outlaw barbaric lethal injections but the death penalty itself.”

**********************

Please help the NAACP by urging a stay of execution for Aaron Jones, still scheduled for May 3rd.

Darrell Grayson, who had a chapbook of poems in the Spring issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, has been granted a 3 day trial on June 26th on the lethal injection. His execution date is July 26th. 

Please continue to let your voices be heard! Please write to Governor Bob Riley.

The Honorable Robert Riley,

Governor

State Capitol

600 Dexter Ave

Montgomery, AL 36130

And please pray about this immoral situation. The Death Peantly is just plain wrong.

*****************

After I posted this, I read today’s devotionial from Henri Nouwen. I made the connection. Do you?

Writing to Save the Day by Henri Nouwen

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.

*************************

 

Sometimes God just hits us over the head with the obvious.

HURRY     HURRY     HURRY                                     ANYONE   CAN   VOTE

Voting ends April 29.

Just over three days to vote for me (or anyone else). Go to Billy the Blogging Poet for 2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere.

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2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere results (with 504 votes already cast)

Selection   Votes
Bob Hazelton 1% 3
Steven Schroeder 8% 42
Laurel K Dodge 1% 3
Michael Parker 6% 28
Collin Kelley 16% 82
Alex Gildzen 3% 14
Sherry Chandler 2% 8
Sam Rasnake 4% 18
Levari 4% 20
Sandra Beasley 4% 18
Kasey Silem Mohammad 3% 13
Rebbecca Loudon 7% 34
Rob Mackenzie 8% 41
Helen Losse 7% 37
Pris Campbell 7% 36
Amy King 14% 71
Lorna Dee Cervantes 3% 13
Nick Bruno 5% 23
504 votes total

My campaign slogan is “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!

What are spiritual questions? They are questions from above. Most questions people ask of Jesus are questions from below, such as the question about which of a woman’s seven husbands she will be married to in the resurrection. Jesus does not answer this question because it comes from a legalistic mind-set. It is a question from below.

Often Jesus responds by changing this question. In the case of the woman with seven husbands he says, “At the resurrection men and women do not marry Ö have you never read what God himself said to you: ‘I am God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?’ He is God not of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:23-30).

We have to keep looking for the spiritual question if we want spiritual answers.

No longer required to enter in shifts,
we congregate in a hospital room,
where our minds reject the horribleness of silence.

The nurse, who speaks in staccato whispers,
fingers blond strands of blood-soaked hair.
We remember last night’s storm:

The slicing wind, the freezing rain,
my two gloved hands holding hat to head, coat
to shivering torso.

Having left holiday plans behind—
even December’s bell ringers
with their hungry red cauldrons—

we have shed most of our meaningless baggage,
keeping only a book of puzzles and a light blue
umbrella.  We remember ice hitting glass.

first published in JMWW

We spend a lot of time and energy raising questions. Is it worth it? It is always good to ask ourselves why we raise a question. Do we want to get useful information? Do we want to show that someone else is wrong? Do we want to conquer knowledge? Do we want to grow in wisdom? Do we want to find a way to sanctity?

When we ponder these questions before asking our questions, we may discover that we need less time and energy for our questions. Perhaps we already have the information. Perhaps we don’t need to show that someone is wrong. For many questions we may learn that we already have the answers, at least if we listen carefully to our own hearts.

The final of our eleven poets presented in the Spring issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature is, perhaps, living out his final days. Darrell B. Grayson, who resides on death row in Holman Prison in Alabama, is scheduled to be put to death on July 26. And. perhaps, you will want to do something.

 

But first, I want to point you to Darrell’s poetry. Darrell has been featured previously on this blog (scroll down). And he has three chapbooks of poems. Against Time is available from Mercy Seat Press. And Darrell’s latest chapbook, Holman’s House, was published in the Spring issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

 

Now, if, like Valerie MacEwan (Mule editor) and I, you think the Death Penalty should be abolished, or suspended, at least, until equity issues and those concerning lethal injection protocol are studied, perhaps you would be willing to act on behalf of inmates like Darrell. Below is the letter I wrote this week to Alabama Governor Robert Riley. Please feel free to cut or copy any part of this letter, if you choose to write.

 

The Honorable Robert Riley,

Governor

State Capitol

600 Dexter Ave

Montgomery, AL 36130

 

Dear Governor Riley:

 

I am writing today to ask you to halt executions in Alabama until there has been a study of the lethal injection protocol used in state executions. Please follow the lead of the other states, such as Florida, that have granted temporary stays of execution to inmates during this time. Doing so would allow justice to reign while protecting Alabama from fallout should a botched execution occur.

 

It is in the interest of all residents of Alabama and, perhaps, adjacent states that you protect their homeland from the potential economic harm that could result from a failed procedure. And it is humane toward the prisoners who reside on death row to protect them from a death that clearly falls outside a civilized definition of justice.

 

There are certain men—namely, Aaron Jones and Darrell Grayson—whose final days should not be spent in fear of the pain of an execution gone bad. Alabama law does not call for such punishment, and I am asking you to protect these men against it. To require that a citizen pay the price for his/her crime is not the same as to ask him/her to endure pain in its incompetent execution. Please grant these men the dignity of a lawful end.

 

Sincerely,

Helen Losse

 

When Darrell found out I was writing the governor, he said, “The more the merrier,” so please write.

 

Fax # for the Alabama Governor is 334 353 0004.

 

You can also make a tax free donation to Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, P.O. Box 1362, Lanett, AL 36863. Darrell Grayson is the current chairman of this abolitionist society.

If you voted for me for the 2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, thanks. I have 28 votes.   If not, what are you waiting for? 🙂

My campaign slogan is “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!

Go to Billy the Blogging Poet and vote for me for 2007 Poet laureate of the Blogosphere. Voting ends April 29.

.

Today has been fun, but tomorrow I will be posting on a very serious subject, so the joking will have to take a back seat.

Come on friends and join right in,

and “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”*

Come on guys, let the fun begin,

when ya “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

A vote for the others is a great big sin. 🙂

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Come on friends and join right in.

.

 

Thought I’d write some more to make ya’ll grin,

‘bout “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Jana said, “Peanuts! Popcorn! . . . and join right in!”**

And “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Grab a pan and beat it, if it’s made out of tin.

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Come on slackers, you’ll be late for din-din.***

.

 

Come on friends and join right in,

and “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Vote for Helen, forget what ya been,

in a “dead tree”**** with ya nexta kin.

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

“Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

Come on friends and join right in.

Vote two times. *****Pretend ya gotta twin. 🙂

.

 

*Official campaign slogan: “Vote for Helen cuz she wants ta win!”

**Note the subtle irregularity of poetic cadence here, done by a qualified canadidate to be sure. 🙂

*** Colloquial term for dinner

**** Thanks to Poet Bill Knott

*****Please vote once only. And leave the sinnin’ to my enemies, whom I love. 🙂

 

Go to Billy the Blogging Poet and vote for me for 2007 Poet laureate of the Blogosphere. Voting ends April 29.

 

Jenni Russell is another of the eleven poets in the Spring issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Jenni lives with her husband and daughter in a new house in North Carolina, near a farm with horses. She now has an enormous writing room with several bookshelves and, according to Jenni, not enough books. In that room, she not only writes poetry but also her memior, which she is writing now.

Read six poems by Jenni Russell in the April issue of The Dead Mule.

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