Hanging quilt and the gazes of the carved half-dozen prows of ships and this preacher, upright and upholding the opened and planed smooth Word of God in his lap, he fixes his hollowed eyes past the book, on a particular point of sight, devotional turn for the wooden minds in his care. Or recollects a work song from before the war and feels its hum in his brow and high cheeks that betray the grain of southern white pine, deep gouges of chisel and time. I am praying to him now, that the split in his spine will hold. That like his arms blessed tight to his trunk, he will keep his own counsel until the Spirit fires him alive as the free hand and eye of the vernacular maker whose sermon he is.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).