Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 11, 2009

Dear Sis~
There's an open window out on the catwalk and the roof-top exhaust fan pulls the air in so that as I sit here on my bunk, pondering today's execution, a brisk breeze washes over my face allowing me, as I close my eyes, to imagine I'm far away and free. I always meditate during the hour stradling an execution, but I can't say I've had any profound revelations or particular insights; mostly my thoughts round back to how ephemeral life is, especially measured against a society which has such a passion for killing. We really are a murderous nation, possessing a single-minded muscular stupidity, which gives us the strength to keep doing what we are doing (an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth!) without regrets. So now, Wayne Tompkins is dead by the hand of the government, and, what? What is different or better? Those possessed with their own moral certitude, those with an atavistic love of blood, death and violence are temporarily satiated - until they demand the next sacrifice to their God - but we, as a people, are collectively diminished each time we use our authority to kill another human being. Those who favor capital punishment focus on the innocence of the victim or the brutality of the murder, but in my mind , the yardstick should be what is says about us as a people - what do we allow ourselves to do and where do we, as supposedly enlightened souls, draw the line? Do we give in to our darkest impulses or do we rise above them? As of today, most Americans are still in favor of taking the easy route (war, death destruction, execution) over the high road. Perhaps, given we are a nation born in blood and violence, we shall always remain so. I want to believe we'll find our better half one day, but that's a story yet to be written.
Love, Bill

Monday, February 02, 2009

January 27, 2009

Dear Sis~
This will be short as I'm sick with some type of flu; I seldom get sick-the flu hits me about once every 15 years or so. This started 2 days ago and now it's full blown - I have that metallic taste in my mouth and I've lost my sense of taste - all food is tasteless. I never take that annual flu shot. The last time I fell for that trick was 1976, at Desoto Correctional Institute, during the big "swine flu" epidemic (I call it pig fever) which swept the nation. You may recall that millions and millions of flu vaccines were prepared to give to all the elderly people, and it turned out that the flu shot itself killed a lot of old folks. I lined up in the rec yard, like everyone else, and dutifully got my shot. That was a mistake! For the next 4 or 5 days I was sicker than I'd ever been in my life. I could barely walk and spent my days wrapped up in blankets (even a raincoat), trying to sweat it out. Since then, I've declined all flu shots. Which reminds me of the Old Grand Lady who spent 75 years in the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee (at one time the largest mental hospital complex in America with about 5,000 patients). Her husband was in love with another woman, so he signed an affidavit and had her committed, and she just stayed there, lost and forgotten. That was in 1918, during the big flu epidemic which killed a half-million people in this country. One of the side effects of that flu strain was temporary mental problems and lots of survivors ended up in nut houses. This woman became the Forgotten Woman of Chattahoochee until she was discovered by some young girls who brought her plight to the media's attention and eventually got her out. She went on to become the oldest woman in the USA; after she got out, she went to a nursing home in Palatka, Florida, on the St John's River, where she remained in good health until she passed on.