About a month and a half ago, my little sister saved my life with a letter. It arrived just after I'd done something stupid, and her note, which said she needed me, made me undo the stupid thing. I reversed back into being and started going forward. But because this direction is not always easy and because life is not always an graceful fight, I've been hunting down other letters.
Happily, the best thing about my position in this world is that I've somehow careened into the orbit of some insanely gorgeous and brilliant people. And so, I wanted to share some of the work I love, and which feels epistolary to me, along with quick interviews, and my pretty terrible 30-second illustrations. I hope reading will make you want to throw a few inelegant punches.
First up is a prose poem by Eric Vithalani. It's so good, I feel a little wild when I read it. 'denim pants' unfolds in the negative, both linguistically and temporally--and in other, more complicated ways, too...
sean david carter’s body was never claimed. after the few witnesses never left the viewing area, he was never removed from the execution chamber. the state appointed physician never declared him dead. his heart never stopped after the last injection, potassium chloride. the second injection never relaxed his muscles or collapsed his lungs. there wasn’t a first injection that sedated him after the warden never gave the signal to start. the two inch thick steel door to the chamber never slammed shut. he was never a contained storm. an iv was not started and the saline solution did not drip, slow. it did not remind him of fishing for rainbow trout. he was never connected to a cardiac monitor or strapped to a table exactly ten minutes before he did not die. fifty minutes before that, he was never given a new pair of denim pants and a new blue work shirt. a couple of hours before that, he wasn’t in a bitter room with the prison chaplain and the warden, sitting at an industrial table. his thoughts never focused on what it would be like. he never ate the last meal he requested; turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, cranberries, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee, black. his execution date never happened to fall on thanksgiving. it was four hours before that when he was never moved off death row and into the death watch cell, continuously observed by a three man staff. he never put up a fight. the seventeen hours before that, the sky did not gray, snow did not begin to fall, protesters did not arrive and his family and friends did not make visitation. sean david carter never knew who shot the two found at the kitchen table in bathrobes. she, slumped over like a school girl taking a nap on her desk and he with burned out cigarette between his lips.
- Who will fight alongside you during the zombie apocalypse? My dog, Baxter. I've only had him for a few months now, but he is a loyal, protective little fucker.
- Greatest regret? Being an asshole to my parents when I was a teenager.
- Physical object/possession you love the most? My camera.
Here's my bio of Eric, which he had nothing to do with: As of 2015, he's been my best friend for 17 years. That camera he mentioned is a Canon 70D, and he has fancy lenses for it, like a 100-400 L series. People buy his photographs. Eric teaches English at Coastal Community College and lives in Surf City, NC. He did his MFA at UNC Wilmington.
A bit of Eric's other work available online:
- 'Kidney for Tom Waits' in Cedars
- 'Soldier (1943)' in Blood Orange Review
- 'The Darkest Corner of Heaven' in Blood Orange Review
- 'The River Poem' in Sliver of Stone