11 April, 2011

Show Your Support with a Click

Readers who follow the news on FreeByronCase.com have known for several months that my petition for relief from the US Supreme Court was denied without hearing. Although dispiriting, it wasn't much of a surprise. Only one of every hundred petitions is even looked at by the justices, the rest are rubber-stamped by clerks. The Court's denial was not necessarily based on the merits of my arguments; I likely just didn't have the lucky number. Most people would be appalled to know how closely justice in the United States resembles a coin toss, a game of roulette, or, sometimes, Powerball.

The big question has since been the obvious one: What now? A couple of options remain for me, in the pursuit of my stolen freedom, and while I have plans for them both, I cannot bring them to fruition without help.

The option I can tell you about right now is executive clemency. Clemency is a discretionary act by a state's governor, invoked, among many other possible reasons, to provide relief in cases of innocence or dubious guilt, when all other remedies have been exhausted. One of the forms that clemency can take is a pardon, which not only wipes out a conviction but restores voting rights, the right to run for public office, and the right to serve on a jury. There is no court involvement in the clemency process — the state's parole department advises on the matter, then it is entirely the governor's decision.

My supporters have begun collecting signatures in an online petition that asks Governor Jay Nixon to grant me a full pardon. Your signature to the petition, indicating a belief that my convictions for murder and armed criminal action are (at best) unjust or (at worst) egregious sins, could mean the difference between my freedom and a life wasted behind a lethal electric fence. Please visit The Petition Site. Tell Missouri's Governor Nixon that, based on the evidence of my innocence, you support my application for pardon. Then share the petition's URL with someone you know. The courts may have failed, but the people can still prevail.

10 April, 2011

A Winter Poem for Spring's Springing

Siberian Exile

Observe: life aplenty, but nothing living
Nor beautiful. For beauty is unsatisfying,
Too fickle, too fleeting, and we speak
Only in absolutes, in basso voce, in taunts,
In outright lies; never may one permit his
Wrack-and-ruin teeth to chatter.

At one moment, in a certain light, might've
Been welcomed a little cold, a blast of ice for
These fevered souls, yet this tundra
— Arctic swath of bellicosity, sweeping
Northern winds, serpentine razor wire — threatens
To still so much love. But

It is more than temperature that carves
Out these scrimshaw bones, it is a chill
By which to shiver away while the gears that are
The tick-tock mechanism of senescence, of sons'
And daughters' narrowing faces, of wives'
Expanding emptiness grind inexhaustibly on.

* * * * *

A rare instance of prison life making an appearance in my poetry, I penned "Siberian Exile" at the beginning of a bitter winter, slightly more than four years ago. The weather now is warming, but the sentiment remains. This is as chilly a place today as when I wrote the piece. Spring's arrival only reminds me of the world's perpetual push onward and my own stagnation. Seeing the foliage return to distant trees, it's hard not to get bitter about the passing of another season unjustly locked away. I am bitter enough as it is; I scarcely require Mother Nature adding more wormwood and walnuts to the regional flora.

03 April, 2011

If It's Not One Thing....

The completed memoir, as regular readers of The Pariah's Syntax know, was expected by late January. Call it first-book naïveté, but I really did believe I could make it what it needs to be with just two rewrites. Now, here is April, giggling and taunting me with her rush of springtime warmth. Truly the cruelest month, she asks, "Wasn't it about this warm outside when you started that project?"

Salt in the wound. The fact is, I've been hamstrung. Mere days from saturating the last page of draft number two with red ink, a precipice of accomplishment at which I was downright giddy, my typewriter — Old Faithful, my dogged workhorse of five years — went kaput. My first reaction was to curse mightily (I do that, from time to time), then I looked into repair costs. I cursed some more. An entirely new carriage assembly was needed which, as a reference point for those of you living comfortably in the twenty-first century, is like your inkjet's print head grinding to a halt. Only more expensive — insanely so, because no one in his right mind repairs typewriters in this day and age. Crazy old druids charge a lot for labor; however, the bill must be paid. I cannot hand-write my many shorter journal submissions any more than I can my book manuscript.

So now I wait. Friends tell me to make the most of the downtime. One suggested I "get some reading done."

"Take a vay-cay," prompted another.

"Go out for some fresh air," yet another insisted.

Someone else, trying to brighten my spirits, said, "Just think how motivated you'll be to work when you get it back from the shop!"

As if motivation weren't something I had enough of to bottle and sell at a premium. How I laughed when I heard these palliatives, so smilingly delivered. I laughed until I was worn out, then contemplated a nap. Too bad I was too dejected to sleep.