HEATHER HECMAN-McKENNA CALEB JOHNSON
with commentary by
SNEHA SUBRAMANIAN KANTA
HEATHER J. MACPHERSON HANNAH MADONNA FRANCISCO MÁRQUEZ LUKE REITER
The Carolina Quarterly
Vo l u m e 7 1 . 1 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 VOLUME 71.1
PUBLISHED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
Founded in 1948 P U B L I S H E D AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F N O R T H C A R O L I N A – C H A P E L H I L L
V O LU M E 71.1
ED ITO R - IN- C HIE F
Kylan Rice F IC T IO N EDITO R S
Paul Blom Matthew Duncan P O E T RY ED ITO R
Colin Dekeersgieter NO N- F IC T IO N ED I TO R
Jo Klevdal R E V IE W S EDITO R
Elisa Faison MA NAGING EDITO R
M O R E O NLINE AT
ON THE COVER
The Carolina Quarterly publishes four issues per year (two print,
"Simple and Sweet," by Britnie
two digital) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Subscription rates and payment information can be found on our website: thecarolinaquarterly.com.
BACK ISSUES & REPRINTS
COVER DESIGN Kylan Rice & Bailey Fernandez
Current single issues are $12 each. Back issues are $8 each. Issues
can be purchased on our website through PayPal, or by money order or
check payable in U.S. funds.
SUBMISSIONS The Carolina Quarterly welcomes submissions of unpublished fiction, poetry, non-fiction, book reviews, and visual art. Only electronic
Kelly Copolo Laura Crook Olivia Harris Katie Leonard
submissions are accepted through our online partner, Submittable.
Submissions are open year round. Please allow four to six months for a
INDEXING The Carolina Quarterly is indexed in the Book Review Index, Poem Finder, Index to Periodical Fiction, American Humanities Index, and the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature. Member Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. ISSN 0008-6797. Library of Congress catalogue card number 52019435.
INTERNS Renata Schmidt
Fa l l 2 0 2 1 | V O LU M E 7 1 . 1
POETRY GEORGIA DENNISON
Material Action · 8 Magellanic Cloud as Agent · 10
Discount Enterprise · 11 SNEHA SUBRAMANIAN KANTA
In Which All Migratory Birds
Become Ghosts · 13
Orbit and Peril With Ghost · 14
Tornado · 15 Maps · 16
The Book of Proverbs · 17 Lullaby · 18 VIC TORIA STIT T
maternal dreamscape · 19
autumn convalescence · 20 a blooded birth · 21 mourning glass · 22 G.C. WALDREP
George Rapp (I) · 23
George Rapp (VII) · 25 Time, The Secret Affirmation · 27
FICTION CAITLIN VANCE
This Is What We Know About
the World · 30 HANNAH MADONNA
The Last Cigarette · 47
Why I Quit Reading · 56
NON-FICTION AIDAN FORSTER
Self-Portrait in Six Gels · 60
Bug · 65
HEATHER J. MACPHERSON
My Mother Screamed, but I Don't Know
What Sound It Made · 66 LUKE REITER
Before I Go · 68 Fall · 72
THE FRIEND DANIEL WALLACE
On Caleb Johnson · 76
The Sisters · 78
REVIEWS SARA HEISE GRAYBEAL
The OK End of Funnytown by Mark Polanzak · 90
M AT T H E W P O T T S Breath Like the Wind at Dawn by Devin
Jacobsen · 94 JAEYEON YOO
The Breaks by Julietta Singh · 98
Material Action Amidst an arctic glow Reindeer spectrum the ultraviolet lichen, draw a meal. Humans are blind to this light. But they did perfect neon. Who hasn't been fed by the halo of a parabolic marquee. When the island married the land syntax canoed towards the edge of the earth and clicked on another video. If you want out of this galaxy you’re going to have to know more Octopuses, study architecture. Or you could stay put, make a living— not a life—but a continuous, nonfinite clause— tense in the gut—ever present participate. — This is not an account. But my mother insists the papayas behind her new, Port St. Lucie home are organic. Soil test, cloud sample, cumulonimbus exaggerations in with the extract—the seeds good for healing wounds. This is not an account but you should know I kept salamanders to die in a moss filled shoe box underneath my bed like a devil’s habitat, habitually tended the orangestriped, doe-eyed, twig-limbed until they went rigor mortis with my insistence. This is not an account but when I learn of the Irwin County Detention Center in rural South Georgia, when I
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
learn of the male doctor performing hysterectomies, the uterus collector, my first instinct is to cut my arm off and send it in a letter. Another one, another one. This isn’t the first America to amass a mass sterilization. Many Americas have. The dogwood trees watch. This is not an account. This does not contain capital. This does not require the secret password. This has not been rendered. It is a privilege to be shocked.
Magellanic Cloud as Agent The international collective of flies gather in the ether to make electronic music. Tickets are free but a donation of lung tissue is highly encouraged. Ascension is an eternal struggle but there’s always window shopping. In one frame, wood fired bagels are stacked to form a tree— sustenance as ornament, nature, gargled anthropocene. Permission to praise the Country-pop star for footing the death bill. In the tangerine smoke of a new thorny day the riff is contagious, the beat is contagious, the chorus contagion. Go ahead, sneak back into the Satanic Temple after hours to spiritually copulate with the goat-headed Baphomet as the bronze children watch. Volatile sun-saturated hydrocarbons have the whole family digging into their various cavities. Three jawed leeches insist on exercising their right to free speech. How can you compete? Your sad, singular brain is no match against the sycophant’s 32. You only lose blood. You don't know loss. If you must touch a stranger, do it without hesitation. Unmake the bed. Encourage the dog to eat. Brush their hair. Admire the cactus. Croon over mushroom porcelains, the framed watercolors. And then never speak to them again.
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
The Last Cigarette “No smoking in the car,” I said, reminding Bryan for the third time since we’d left the house. He had his window rolled down and the air ripping by was so loud it dulled the sound of the radio and Pat’s quiet mumbling as he stared at the road. Bryan blew smoke out the window, a long translucent tail that disappeared almost as soon as it hit the air. “I’m trying to quit, you know,” he said. I looked over my shoulder to where he sat behind me. He stuck out his hand, like a pale, spindly bird against the watercolor sky. The cigarette was suspended between two of his long fingers and after a second he flicked his wrist and let it go. I sighed and looked back at the dashboard in front of me. “You know I’m trying to quit,” I said, sinking down further in my seat, anger like a stone in my throat. “I haven’t had a cigarette since—” “The one you snuck last night?” I could hear the smug, asshole smile in his voice and I took the balled-up wrapper from my lunch at the burger place and threw it behind me, right at Bryan’s chest. “Can we not fight?” Patrick asked, pained, his knuckles turning white on the wheel. “Please? I’m trying to drive.” “Sorry Pat,” I said. His cheeks puffed up and he let out a loud breath, shaking his head so a sheaf of soft hair fell over his forehead. “Sorry Pat,” Bryan repeated, mocking. “Bryan.” Our father’s voice snapped through the car and all of us sat up a little straighter, a little more attentive, just out of habit. “Don’t really think today’s the best day to test our patience.” I looked back at him—couldn’t help myself—and he drained the last of his beer and then squeezed the can in his fist until it collapsed into itself with a soft, metallic crunch. Patrick’s head swiveled back for just a second before his eyes went to the road. He shifted in his seat, nervous, and I saw his jaw move as his teeth ground together. “Dad, if you have to drink that—” “I told you already, Pat, I’m not doing this sober.” “Okay, yes, right, just.” He sighed and glanced back again. I watched Dad pull the long thready strands of his moustache into his mouth, sucking off the drops of his beer that had gathered there. “Just send it up here please to put in the trash. And Bryan, toss that burger wrapper back up, too.” Dad handed up his crushed beer can HANNAH MADONNA
to Bryan, who took it and the greasy, fast-food paper and threw them onto my lap. “Corinne,” Pat said, “please—” I pulled open the plastic grocery bag he’d brought for trash and tossed both inside. # Mom was soft. Not weak, no one would ever call her weak, but she was gentle and smiling and warm—soft in the way an old, loved blanket is soft. You know it can keep you safe from monsters, too. She was tiny, barely hitting five feet, and so slender I’ve been able to wrap my arms all the way around her for as long as I can remember. The rest of us are tall, the boys sturdy and broad-shouldered with thick curves like dad and me. None of us took after her, not really. We weren’t worthy of her, we all secretly thought, not bright enough to be like the sun around which our whole family revolved. Sometimes I used to help her hang laundry up to dry in our backyard. Sometimes the power went out and sometimes dad just didn’t pay it, but mom never complained. We’d play peekaboo between the rows of clothes, around the billowing sheets—white for the parents and characters for all the kids. Lewis still had his old teddy bear then, clutching it to his chest with his dirty thumb in his mouth pressing against his teeth. He’d follow us around, scowling and never speaking, his eyes trained on mom like he was a little blond hawk. “Feel that wind, Corinne?” she’d asked, pulling down the long, wavy mass of hair she kept tied up. She shook her head and her whole body followed, one long sinuous wave. She raised up on her toes, and I followed, the grass tickling our bare feet. Her eyes closed and she tipped her head back. “I feel it,” I said, switching back and forth between squeezing my eyes shut and looking at her so I could copy what she was doing. The breeze picked up and I could smell the floral detergent smell coming off the laundry, could smell the sweet summer grass crushed beneath our feet. “Yeah, mom, I feel it!” She smiled and spread her arms out like wings. “Ma you’re a bird,” Lewis cried, the words still a mash in his baby mouth. “Fly, momma, you can fly.” “I can fly,” she said. She took in a deep breath and took off, running toward the trees on the property line. “Corinne,” she called, looking back at me over her shoulder, “come fly with me!” I puffed out my cheeks and flapped my arms hard like wings, running in a clumsy
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
gallop after her, huffing in concentration, trying to catch the wind. Mom was spinning in circles, waiting for me, and when I got to her, slamming against her legs, she scooped me up and twirled me for a second before she tripped, burdened with the sudden weight of me, soft and scrawny and small. We both tumbled to the ground, rolling over each other, my arms tangled in her hair. Lewis was yelling, jumping up in quick, jerky leaps, clutching the neck of his bear each time his feet touched the ground. We were delighted, oblivious to Lewis’s worry, laughing together in a breathless heap. Mom grabbed my hand, our fingers laced. And we laughed, a waterfall of sound—laughing and laughing and laughing until mom was crying, her face wet with the slippery gleam of her tears. # “It was a nice funeral,” Bryan said, breaking the silence and with it the fragile peace we’d cobbled together. He knocked on the window with a knuckle and then smiled, crooked, from the corner of his mouth. “Very respectful, I thought. Earnest.” He conspicuously avoided looking at dad, flicking his eyes instead from Lewis in the seat next to him up to me, where I hadn’t been able to stop myself from turning back to stare at him. “At least in my opinion.” “Yeah, and no one asked you, Bryan,” Lewis spat, his eyes on his phone, the thick lines of his eyebrows so furrowed they almost met. It was the first time I’d heard him speak since we’d gotten in Patrick’s van that morning. “Well maybe they should have,” Bryan said, voice like a drip of molasses. I hated him a little then, no longer willing to cut him any slack. We were all angry, we were all sad, but none of the rest of us wanted to wield that grief like a knife the way Bryan did. Dad cracked open another beer, and the pop from the can was loud as a shot. He drank loudly, taking his time, slurping it down, smacking his lips. It was cheap beer; I could smell it. My head already hurt and that wasn’t helping, making it throb. I pressed my fingers to my temple and shut my eyes. “Yep. It was a nice funeral, Bryan,” dad said. Lewis grunted. “Glad to see we’re all of one mind there. Lots of flowers.” “Yeah, sure, real nice,” Lewis said. “Bryan was drunk, Corinne locked herself in the bathroom to cry, and one of Patrick’s stupid kids pissed themselves during the goddamn prayer.” HANNAH MADONNA
“We’re still potty training,” Patrick said, quick, licking his lips and looking in the rearview mirror at Lewis. “And the twins are so stubborn, both of them. Maggie and I already apologized to dad and the pastor.” He cleared his throat, gearing up to change the subject. Pat was always the mediator, conciliatory and willing to meet you in the middle about anything—except his kids. Lewis probably hadn’t been trying to pick a fight with Pat but given the chance Bryan definitely would. “I wanted to ask you, dad,” Pat said, craning his neck to look at dad in the mirror, sitting in the third row. He grimaced, his mouth stretched down as he shifted in his seat, hands clenching and unclenching on the steering wheel. “How did you...You know, with mom’s body, and—” “I was following your mother’s last wishes,” dad said, his voice hard. “I didn’t like it, Pat, but after Dr. Paul’d come and did the death certificate, I had a few words with him. And the funeral director, too.” Dad sniffed. “He was one of your mom’s so-called brothers.” Mom had been very explicit in what she wanted before she passed. She’d been barely lucid enough to recognize any of us at the end, much less give us a detailed end of life plan, but she had been so insistent before, so clear and sure and cogent, that even though none of us liked it we didn’t really feel like we had a choice. We didn’t have to like it, we all decided. But we’d do what she wanted. Because we loved her. # The drive was already pushing two hours, no one except dad sure where exactly we were going. He’d given Patrick minimal directions, and when Lewis had asked where we were headed before we’d gotten in the car, dad had just said that we’d see when we got there. Trees were thick along the side of the road, still flush with leaves. The colors were starting to change, going from green to fiery autumn. I’d been staring out the window for most of the ride, my head aching. Patrick had the radio going, some instrumental satellite channel that was supposed to be relaxing, and he went back and forth between trying to hum along and muttering to himself if there was a particularly rough patch of road. “See that sign?” dad said. “Coming up on the right? Turn there, Pat, and I think it’s just a mile or so more.” I sat up straighter. It had been torture to be in the car for so long, and I felt an
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
almost physical sense of relief knowing the ride was almost over. Patrick slowed the car and turned onto the gravel road. The sign was old and crooked and it said “Campbell’s End.” That was mom’s maiden name. Two no trespassing signs were nailed to trees nearby and up ahead we could see a metal gate locked with a heavy padlock. “Pull up to the gate and I’ll get out,” dad said. “Got the key from one of those fuckers at the memorial service.” None of us said anything as Patrick slowly rolled the car to a stop right in front of the gate. Dad got out of his seat, shoulders stooped, and climbed between the bucket seats in the middle and hopped out. He stretched for a second, one hand on the small of his back, looking up at the sky. Then he walked over to the lock, pulled the key out of his pocket and unlocked it. He walked the gate open and waved us through. Pat pulled through slowly, driving with his hands so tight on the wheel it looked like he was going to snap it. Without dad in the car it was almost unbearable. Bryan so angry, Pat so desperate, and me so goddamn fucking sad. Even Lewis made it worse by refusing to talk to any of us, refusing to feel anything or admit that this was happening, that we were really saying goodbye. I wanted to throw up and I was ready, more than anything, to just get it all over with. And then dad got back in the car whistling. “Damn, felt good to stretch my legs for a second after all that sitting,” he said. “We’re almost there, though. Real close now. You’ll know it when you see it, Pat, it’ll be the end of the road.” So Patrick kept driving. We went maybe a mile and a half more over what was barely a road at all; the trees were so close sometimes the lowest branches nearly scraped the windows. And then, all of a sudden, the forest opened up, the road disappearing into dirt in front of a wall of trees. With a deep, expectant breath, Patrick turned off the car. None of us moved; it was a long, tense moment punctuated only by the ambient sounds of the forest around us. Then dad took a long, loud breath. He put on his cap and started humming. “Here we are, kids.” He got out of the car first, gesturing with a hand for the rest of us to follow. “There’s a path right through there,” he said. “Leads to a clearing. Just a quick stroll and then we’re ready.” Patrick got out of the car and after a second, I followed. We stood there waiting for the others until dad cleared his throat. Lewis pulled his headphones off and HANNAH MADONNA
stuffed them in his bag. He climbed out, slamming his door. Pat winced but didn’t say anything. Bryan sat, unapologetic, staring at the seat in front of him. We all waited, standing silent on this unfamiliar patch of land, as his jaw got tighter and tighter. He broke before dad could say anything, though, and slid himself out of the car, pushing up his hair with one hand and knocking the door with a hip to close it. Dad nodded, looking satisfied. “All right,” he said. “Pat. Bryan. Let’s get your mom’s body out of the back of the car.” # There had never been any question of burying her. Dad wasn’t religious, though he’d been Southern Baptist by birth if not inclination. Mom, on the other hand, was very religious, even if that religion was not, in what I’d consider the strictest sense, real. They called themselves the Children of the Southern Stars, though everyone in our county called them “the family.” They were some sort of neo-pagan collective, a step up from the Universal Unitarian church in the next big town over but maybe not quite as new age as the Wiccans. Though when we were all born, mom had insisted on getting our star charts read. There were some hardcore believers, I think, but a lot of the members were just hippies or environmentalists or people who didn’t feel like they fit in at the other churches in the area. Carl Wooten, one of the guys from dad’s deer camp, was a member of the family, and he used every part of every deer, and he thanked the earth for every kill. I’d tried to talk to mom about it when she came home, wanting more pieces of her, anything I could cling to as she drifted further and further away from herself. She’d stopped responding to treatment, the doctors said, and the tumor in her brain had grown back. She had months, if even that long, and the best they could do for her was palliative care. Mom decided what was best for her was to die at home. We took turns caring for her, but most of the time the day-to-day stuff fell to me; I didn’t complain. It was getting harder for her to speak, harder for her to remember anything that wasn’t pain or animal need. She didn’t always answer when we talked. She lost her focus sometimes, and by the end she didn’t answer at all. She had gotten so thin she was almost nothing but bone, her eyes big, round and luminous in her gaunt, sunken face. “Not much to tell, Corinne,” she’d said. I’d been asking about the family again, asking why she’d fallen in with them, and why she’d left. She opened her mouth and
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
I fed her a spoonful of lukewarm soup. She swallowed most of it, the rest dribbling from her dry lips. “And you remember our spring equinoxes.” People had come to the house then, after the sun was gone, circling our backyard and singing something without words, tonal and low. Everyone held a single candle, and their faces were lit with a dark, flickering gold. Mom passed out the crowns of green spring growth she’d spent days making and then she’d join their circle, singing with them loudly at first and then softer until her voice was just another sound swallowed up by the choir. Me and my brothers would huddle together in the kitchen watching this all through the screen door. Dad would be gone on a job, or if he was home either passed out drunk or on his way there. And one by one each candle would go out, until all we could see was shadowy figures, licked by moonlight, rising out of that sea of deep, rhythmic song. She believed everything was connected, that everything was in some constant, cosmic cycle—that death was only the beginning of a new journey. But whatever journey she thought she’d go on when she passed, she thought she could only start it through fire. “Don’t put me in the ground,” she’d said, her hand like a gnarled claw gripping the soft meat of my arm. She coughed, her gray eyes watering, her mouth puckered into a tight, chapped hole. “Please, Corinne, don’t let them put me in the ground. In the deep, in the dark—where there’s nothing, where you’ll never see the sky again. You can’t do that to your mamma, baby, you can’t trap me there.” She pulled me closer, our faces nearly touching. Her skin was dry, and her body was as thin and sharp as a blade. None of her clothes fit anymore, and all she wore was too-big nightgowns from her rag pile, starting to yellow from age. “Let me be free,” she said, her grip so tight now it hurt. “Let me go, Corinne; let me be free.” Her voice went low, and she was trembling. My face was wet and snotty, tears falling before I could stop them, and I wanted to pull away but she held fast, too tight and too close, refusing to let go. “You have to burn me,” she said in a whisper, the sound a chokehold around me. “You have to burn me and send all my ashes up to the sky.” # There only thing I could hear was the heavy rasp of my father’s labored breath as we walked along the rough path through the trees. He shuffled into a clearing and used the toe of his boot to move a pile of leaves. The underneath was damp and stuck together, a mass of dark plant matter mashed together into a blanket over the ground. HANNAH MADONNA
“All right,” he said, crushing the leaves under his boot and walking over to the pyre that had been built for us by some of mom’s people. “Put her down, boys.” Bryan and Patrick lifted our mother up, so careful, laying her on top of the pyre. She was wrapped in a white shroud, with white ribbons tied around her, prayers written on them in a scrawling, cryptic hand. Patrick carefully laid the ribbons on top of her, touching as little as possible, making sure they weren’t left dangling. We couldn’t look at each other. Patrick wiped his hands on his jeans and stepped backwards. Bryan just stood there for a long moment before cracking his neck and turning back to his, walking with a slow, deliberate swagger until he stood behind Lewis. We were all silent, awkward, standing there in an uneven arc. Our father nodded. “Suppose we ought to begin.” He pulled a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his coat. “Take one, everyone,” he said, pulling out a cigarette and then passing the rest of the pack to Patrick. “This can be your last smoke, Corinne. Official.” “I’m not doing it,” Lewis said. He shoved his big hands in his pockets, his shoulders sharp, hitched up to his ears. “I don’t smoke and I’m not going to start now.” “Jesus Christ, Lewis,” Bryan said, “just take it, it’s not a big deal.” “No.” Lewis turned red, a bloody bloom from his neck to the rounds of his cheeks. His voice rang in the cold air. “I said I’m not doing it, none of you can make me. And mom wouldn’t have made me, either.” “You don’t have to smoke it,” dad said, sensible, conciliatory, but his voice with that soft lilt that we had all learned long ago meant danger. “You only have to light it. It’s symbolic. We don’t got candles, for God’s sake.” He sucked his teeth. “So take the fucking cigarette, Lewis.” Patrick took a cigarette and then passed the pack to me. I took it and passed it to Lewis. He didn’t look at any of us, his ears still red, but took it and passed it to Bryan. “You got the lighter, Corinne?” dad asked. “Yeah,” I said. I let out a breath. I pulled mom’s lighter from my pocket. My head was still throbbing, and at any second, I was afraid I might break down. But I wanted the nicotine, almost greedy for it, hungry, so I lit the cigarette and took a drag. Lewis took the lighter after me and lit his, holding it awkwardly away from his body. Bryan took the lighter and lit his, then threw it to Patrick. “This is.” Patrick huffed and scrubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands. “This is so illegal. This is such a bad idea. Oh my fucking god. We’re about to burn mom.” My hands trembled, and for a second I couldn’t breathe. “You done with that lighter?” dad asked. Pat made a desperate, pained sound
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
like he was trying to laugh, lit the cigarette and passed it on to dad. Lewis refused to smoke, like he’d said he would, but Pat half-heartedly tried. “Well,” Bryan said. “Is this all? I thought we were gonna get a bonfire going.” He laughed once, caustic and dry, his voice dripping poison as he said, “Maybe those marshmallows I brought were a mistake.” That was the last straw—it broke me. I couldn’t hold it back any longer, something deep and primal and fierce rising up from my gut, a wail wrenched out of my throat as I bent over, falling to my knees. I was sobbing, unable to stop myself, and everything was a blur—my whole world narrowed to the fine point of my screaming and my crying and my pain. I don’t know how long I stayed huddled in on myself, crying on the ground. Eventually someone put an arm around me, probably Patrick, and helped me back up to my feet. Dad had started the fire, I could smell it, and when I looked up the pyre had erupted in a deep, angry flame. Bryan’s back was to it, his face wet with tears, and Lewis had covered his face with his hands, head tipped up to the sky. Dad’s hand was on the brim of his cap, pulled down to shade his eyes. My whole body shook and my eyes burned. I went back to my cigarette but I wasn’t hungry for it anymore. I didn’t want it, couldn’t stand the feel of it hanging from my lips. And all I could taste was ash.
Before I Go I don’t remember how I first discovered the online archive of executed inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but I do remember how I was chastened by the final statements of the condemned. This mosaic was composed by collecting the statements I found particularly resonant, categorizing them by theme, then extracting sentences and stitching them together as patterns emerged. During my revision process, I began to seek out various news articles and court records to better understand the deceased whose words I conveyed; some of this information later became the footnotes.
Yeah, first off, I want to say that I am sorry for the pain that I have caused you people.1 I never wanted to hurt any of you all.2 I always said that if I ever get to this point, I would have already said everything that needed to be said to all of those who I love and have been with me throughout this whole journey. Today, I realized that I can never say everything that needed to be said because there is still so much that needs to be said.3 No amount of words could ever undo what I’ve done.4 I’ve had to learn lessons in life the hard way. I’ve hurt a lot of people and a lot of people have hurt me.5 I hope that someday this absurdity that humanity has come to will come to an end.6 There are a lot of injustices that are happening with this. There are a lot of things that are not right in this world. I have had to overcome them myself.7 It is what it is.8 I can only walk the path before me and make the best of it.9 I hope that positive change will come out of this.10 I would like to thank my father and mother for everything that they showed me. I would like to apologize for putting them through this.11 I hope this will bring you peace and I'm sorry for all the pain and suffering. I'm sorry it went on for a terribly long time.12 By no means am I happy for what I’ve done.13 I didn't mean for it to happen.14 I hope that you could forgive me, but if you don't, I understand.15 Tell my kids I’m sorry for being a disappointment.16 Young people, listen to your parents. Always do what they tell you to do: go to school, learn from your mistakes. Be careful before you sign anything with your name.17 Think about it before you make a bad decision.18 Live your life to the fullest. You only live your life once.19 Love one another, go to church, change your life for Christ, live your life for Christ.
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
We all have to stand before God at the end of the day. Don't ever think you're perfect. None of us are perfect. God is the only one that is perfect. Jesus is perfect. Don't judge. I'm not judging. God has to judge those people.20 God is the ultimate judge. He knows what happened. We talked earlier.21 Always remember Romans 12:19 is for real, hell is for real.22 I’ve asked God to forgive me.23 I hope you have found God just like I have.24 Everyone can find peace in a Christian God or whatever God they believe in.25 May we all go to Heaven.26 Now, my statement to the world: I am in the midst of truth.27 The best time in my life is during this period. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing because I have been touched by an angel's wings.28 I have no bad sentiment towards anyone.29 All I have is love.30 I am at peace.31 I don't fear death. I'm fine; I'm okay.32 I have peace in my heart and I’m ready for the next journey.33 There are no endings, only beginnings.34 Lastly, I was born and raised Catholic and it was not lost upon me that this is Holy Week and last Sunday was Palm Sunday. Yesterday was my birthday.35 Now it is time to pass on. I have fought the good fight. I held the faith. I am not going to say goodbye—I will simply say until we meet again.36 I hope you find peace and solace in your heart. I know there is something else I need to say. I feel that.37 God, I want to say something so bad.38 That each new indignity defeats only the body, pampering the spirit with obscure merit.39 I guess that’s it.40 See y’all later. Go ahead, please.41 ____________________ 1
Coy Wesbrook. Convicted of shooting five people and killing four, including his ex-wife. Executed March
9, 2016, at age 58. 2
Juan Garcia (translated from Spanish). Convicted of fatally shooting a man during a robbery and taking $8
from the corpse. Executed October 6, 2015, at age 35. 3
Jose Villegas. Convicted of fatally stabbing a 24-year-old woman, her 3-year-old son, and 51-year old
mother. Executed April 16, 2014, at age 39. 4
Anthony Allen Shore. Convicted of kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and strangling five girls, ages 15, 21, 14,
9, and 16. Executed Jan. 1, 2018, at age 55. 5
Robert Lynn Pruett. Convicted of fatally stabbing a correctional officer with a shank. Executed Oct. 12,
2017, at age 38. 6
Richard Cobb. Convicted of abducting a man and two women, sexually assaulting the women and fatally
shooting all three. Executed April 25, 2013, at age 29. LU K E R E I T E R
Adam Ward. Convicted of fatally shooting a code enforcement officer. Executed March 22, 2016, at age 33.
James Bigby. Convicted of fatally shooting a man, then suffocating the man’s 17-week-old infant with cello-
phane. Executed March 14, 2017, at age 61. 13
William Rayford. Convicted of murdering a woman by stabbing, strangulation, and blunt force. Executed
Jan. 30, 2018, at age 64. 14
Jerry Martin. Convicted of killing a correctional officer by striking the horse she was riding with his stolen
truck while escaping from a work detail in an onion patch. Executed Dec. 3, 2013, at age 43. 15
Ramiro Hernadez. Convicted of beating a homeowner to death with a pipe, then raping the homeowner’s
wife repeatedly. Executed April 9, 2014, at age 44. 18
Aturo Diaz. Convicted of stabbing two men—one fatally—during a robbery. Executed Sept. 26, 2013, at
age 37. 19 20
Hernandez. Carl Blue. Convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend by dumping a cup of gasoline on her and igniting it.
Executed Feb. 21, 2013, at age 48. 21
Manuel Garza. Convicted of fatally shooting a police officer with the officer’s weapon as the officer
attempted to arrest him for outstanding warrants. Executed April 15, 2015, at age 34. 25
Daniel Lopez. Convicted of fatally striking a pedestrian with his car while attempting to avoid a police
spike strip. Executed Aug. 12, 2015, at age 27. 27
Carroll Parr. Convicted of fatally shooting a man during a robbery. Executed May 7, 2015, at age 35.
Jamie McCoskey. Convicted of abducting a young couple, fatally stabbing the man, and raping the woman.
Executed Nov. 12, 2013, at age 49. 29
Ruiz Rolando. Convicted of fatally shooting a woman in exchange for a $2,000 payment from her husband.
Executed March 7, 2017, at age 44.
C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY
Vaughn Ross. Convicted of fatally shooting a 53-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman. Executed July
7, 2013, at age 41. 33
Arnold Prieto. Convicted of fatally stabbing his great uncle, great aunt, and one other person at breakfast,
then robbing their bodies with his two co-conspirators. Executed Jan. 21, 2015, at age 42. 35
Rosendo Rodriguez III. Convicted of sexually assaulting, striking, and strangling a pregnant woman, then
stashing her corpse in a suitcase. Executed March 27, 2018, at age 38. 36
Lester Bower. Convicted of fatally shooting four men in a hangar and stealing ultralight aircraft parts.
Executed June 3, 2015, at age 67. 37
Donald Newbury. Convicted of killing a police officer with six fellow convicts after escaping from prison.
Executed Feb. 4, 2015, at age 53. 40
Kent Sprouse. Convicted of fatally shooting a man at a gas station, then fatally shooting a police officer who
responded to incident. Executed April 9, 2014, at age 42. 41
John David Battaglia. Convicted of fatally shooting his two daughters, ages 6 and 9. Executed Feb. 1, 2018,
at age 62.
LU K E R E I T E R