News from the ODC

Through A Glass Darkly

Random Observations from Eduard Loring


A Cry From Prison

Thony Lee Green, 102340, is our adopted son in prison.

Below are two cries from prison:

June 17, 2011

     My “M” [Murphy Davis] and I have more than just mom and son in common; we are both struggling for a few more years of life on God’s earth and with our loved ones….
     … it’s been so hot! Here, these days are so hot, and the people in society think that we have it good inside of prison, only if they knew the half, only if they knew that this is a living hell, something I wouldn’t wish on a dog.

 June 26

     This thing that I am struggling against is very strong.…
     … it brings me all the way down….
     … a very hard life….
     … will I get old, sick and die alone in prison….
     … I am tired of just being a number. Dad, I’m trying to get you to see and understand what I live with daily, for you to understand how I feel you would have to be locked up for 30 years with no end in sight. I live with the constant threat of danger, which doesn’t bother me too much because there are times that I feel like making it happen, maybe death is more peaceful than going through this life of prison day in and day out.

     … when are you going to buy me a pair of tennis shoes?
     … please pray for me that I can hang on….

     This question comes to me as I dream of Thony’s release:
     “How can the bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing?” asks poet William Blake in “The Schoolboy.”
     I say, “Not all jailbirds can.”

Speaking What Is Right

     Another voice from behind bars from a protagonist of mine:

June 22, 2011
     Melvin E. Jones, #401754

     Ed, in the end … in the final scheme of things, right always beats might. These folks (the powers that be) cannot dangle carrots in front of me and say “hush up, boy, and I’ll give you a bite.” All wrongs are worth fighting. Throughout this prison experience, I have always practiced — among all odds — looking these people in the eyes and speaking what is right. Any other mannerisms express accepted slavery and puppetry; neither description fits me.

     P.S. When the reckoning comes, the chicken will come home to roost!

How Colonel Sanders Lost a Customer

     The other day before the calendar popped up midway through the diseased month of July, and flies still buzzed at Gettysburg though vultures like Pickett’s men, shot dead in swoop-fall, someone said (oh weak and deflating memory — though my heart holds fast — what was her name? What is a name?): “I never eat chicken.”
     “Oh, not vegetarian when time stood still for two minutes and the sun halted overhead,” she said with a sprout of broccoli lodged fast between cocaine teeth. But “once upon a highway blazing hot and hair askew” (and top of blouse flipping in the exhaust and therein lies a possibility — one in eight women in the usa — of a secret growth hungry for lymph cells to make desolate with chaos one or two breasts).  “Upon the silver shaking concrete I beheld an 18-wheeler come furious roun’ the bend at 170 miles per two hours.  The ferocious manic truck carried monstrous misery like a motherless child as chickens, squeezed like dough, lay suffocating in small wooden crates, torture chambers really. They could not cluck nor moan their death watch on their way to the beheading chamber, feathers flying like ice stones in hail madness.
     “Never, never again will I eat chicken,” she told her courageous God. “I vow it; I won’t. I will not be part of this cruel apathy. I take the Eucharist, but nothing fowl must be decapitated for my next meal. Ever again.”

The Cry of the Poor


This is how things are in America today.

 Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

      August bends us toward the brutal bomb and the foul birth of “The Modern Period.”
     Where: Bay C.
     Diversity: Indian, Latino, Black, white, young, old and dying with little hope and lots of pain. The alive ones, a blessing, bread, miracle, trump card, destiny, bomb not yet detonated. All suffer. Even the accompaniers — the Blessed ones — can feel a bit of marrow leak.
     When: Hospital Standard Time. The ill wait. The lifegivers rush.
     What: I listen to a Latina woman, 65, from Boston taking a life trip. She speaks with an odd combination of Bostonian Spanish accent (odd to myDeep Southears).
     I listen to her conversation partner, pink pendant, autumnal blonde, hidden wrinkles popping, skin like a crocus at final frost. She is the Blessed One; she speaks. Her husband is angry on the edge of rudeness when nurses turn the other cheek every day, every hour. Doctors are the elite. Even the almost dead take it out on the nurses: misplaced (what place is there?) class, power. His jawbones rigid like Samson’s nonnuclear weapon. Yet he is us and we are him. I love him as we rage against diminishment and death. Together in mystery we peer over the edge of our maps into a glass darkly. Killing is killing. He is as we are. We are sitting on the dock of the bay, praying, hoping, getting stuck with needles, vomiting,  hair falling out, tremors in our hands, dullness in our feet, no feeling in our fingers. The Blessed One listens and sees, but we do not know. We stand in solidarity, but the abyss beckons like Scylla and Charybdis. We stumble under a cloud of unknowing.
     Says she, Latina, “My husband [who is not here] teases me. Says my real family is on the Internet — people I don’t even know. Of course, we are all family here.”
     Responds the white woman: “Yes, I tell my children to know who their friends are. No one writes postcards any more. I believe …” Nurse interrupts. Needle time. Drip to live. Slowly she falls to sleep mimicking when from our labors we shall rest. White one moves to a nurse. “My husband is very anxious. Can you help me? Please?”
    The one “who is not busy being born is busy dying,” Bob Dylan sang in 1965, on “Bringing It All Back Home.”

“Mortimer: A Lament”

By Presbyterian Social Action
Like Jesus was a carpenter for the poor,
He did not so much build
as repair the edifices of others’ labor.
He with wood, tar and shingle,
hammer and nail, climbed high the ladder
of the rust-bruised house trailer
banging the ersatz walls with used
work boots, laces leather, store-bought new.
He slides of a sudden, foot twisted.
Slipped headlong. Crashed. Neck ajar.
Another empty space left.
Unfilled hole toward rooftree.
Heart stopping. Ankle swelling.

Eduard Loring is a Partner at the Open Door Community.

“Looking Through a Glass Darkly” is a series of occasional


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