Beaumont, TX

May 30, 2014

David Bright, Editor

Dear Mr. Bright,

Hello and good spring to you! I once again come bearing poems and
a cover letter from the heart. This is the eve of the 23rd anniversary
of my crime, so I've decided to make it a working remembrance. Yes,
twenty-three years ago I was a free man, or a free junior in college,
at least. The manhood thing wouldn't come until much later, too late
to matter except in principle. It's sad how much of our youth is
wasted on making mistakes that we didn't have to make to become
the people we wanted to be. Falling down does teach us how to stand
back up, but sometimes you fall so far and so hard that there's
nowhere left to stand but upon the pedestal of your own irreparable
heart. And then you write poems.

I'm sending you five poems because I can't find the guidelines to tell
me if three is the limit. Remember, my life is supposed to fit inside a
2.0 cubic foot box, and that includes groceries and hygiene items as
well. As always, I hope they speak to you even if they don't fit the
editorial market of the day.

And now I sit in my not uncomfortable cell, thunder rumbling in the
distance, birds chirping in the gloaming, my cellie atop his bunk
communing with his headphones, and wonder what else to say and
what else to do. There is no rite save suicide that suffices, and all
that does is bring more suffering without expiating the hate or
healing the scar. So you go on, seeking goodness out of the mean,
and standing as tall as your chin allows. Because in the end all you
have is the time you spend making the world better by making your
life better, and hoping that the effort was worth it to someone

I've most recently had work accepted by ARCHAEOPTERYX, NATURAL
BRIDGE, and THE KERF. I've most recently had work published by

Thank you for providing a reason. May you be happy, may you be
well, and may you find the freedom you seek.


Jack Vian
by Jack Vian

The moss-scrabbled headstone
Settles like a mother's heart
Settles into the empty hours
Of a broken curfew

And the window's half-hewn ghost
Offers no hope to the ageless,
Star-scattered smiles reflected
Within the moteless picture frame

For the unmade bed will remain
Forever unlike the unwed blooms
Flagging atop the cold brass runes
Of an otherwise clean-cut grave

And she will arise
And her knees will creak
More and more like she imagines
Every hinge must creak

For in the midnight of her mind
The heartless cortege never ends
Even though his black-fringed friends
Have long since spared their last amens

And the bedroom's leaden door will ease
Ever so softly to its close, and the quiet
Undisturbable dust will settle once more
As if it had never once been left alone

To wait like a mother must wait
When her prayers are as silent and unborne
As an ever-unanswerable phone on that savage
And most unforgivable of unforgivable dawns

Jack Vian won the PEN Prison Contest for Poetry in 2004. His poems have
recently been published in Rattle; Southwestern American Literature;
Colere; War, Literature & the Arts; and Big Muddy. He practices yoga and
follows the Dharma at the Texas Department of Corrections-Beaumont.

Photo: Rochelle Bettis