Friday, August 3, 2012

Letter to the Florida Keys

By John L. Guerra

"Letter to the Earth" is Mark Twain's imaginary correspondence to Earth from the "Office of the Recording Angel, Department of Petitions." The letter from Heaven to mine owners advises them how their prayers will be answered.
For instance, in his Letter to Earth, the Recording Angel advises mine owners:
"1. For weather to advance hard coal 15 cents a ton, [prayer] granted.
2. For influx of laborers to reduce wages 10 percent, [prayer] granted.
3. For cyclone, to destroy and fill up the mine of the North Pennsylvania Co. Note: Cyclones are not kept in stock in the winter season. A reliable article of firedamp can be purchased upon application."

Twain's use of heavenly correspondence with mine owners in the 1890s is a great device for reviewing recent events in the Keys. This letter, however, comes not from the Department of Petitions, but the Department of Behavioral Review, also overseen by the Recording Angel, an office of pretty high rank, you understand.

Letter to the Florida Keys

1. For the man, or woman--cruelty is not gender specific--who abandoned four German shepherd puppies in a steel trash bin in Key Largo, you have slid below all decency. Even as the trusting but confused countenance of each pup looked into your eyes to understand why you were putting them in the hot trash receptacle, you did it anyway. How can you condemn such heart-warming babes to a certain death? To not find value in the unquestioning loyalty, helplessness, and innocence God instills in all the newly born--well, your life must be void. You punish yourself just by waking each morning.

2. For the men who surprised and beat a well-loved bouncer and his colleague at the Green Parrot last weekend, stomping on his ankle until it broke and incurring head injuries that resulted in the young man's need to be on a respirator, your lives are going to change drastically. After your trial (or you make a plea deal) you'll have to leave the Keys. Too many people love this gentle and altruistic man and his fellow bouncer to let your act of violence slide. Even all the way up here in heaven, our staff can hear non-violent people down there saying you deserve an equal or greater beating.

3. To the people of the Keys. We know your hearts are heavy with the loss of Emily Boyd Lowe, founder and director of the Keys Chorale. She joined Florida Keys Community College as a voice teacher, and founded the Keys Chorale. The annual concerts she conducted at the Tennessee Williams auditorium and outdoor concerts at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park became popular cultural events for almost 20 years. The universe is sewn together with music and song is the ancient language of prayer. People like Emily are rare and beautify lives immeasurably.
(The Key West Citizen wrote a beautiful account of this lovely woman's life at

4. To the Alaska fishermen who saved the young bear from the whirlpool in the Kenai River. Your actions were valiant and greatly pleased the mother bear and the struggling cub's siblings panicking on shore. As they watched in horror, your actions proved that the link between man and beast is strong. Pulling the young bear from the water was not lost on Nature. It was rare proof that human beings and all living things share the same fate. You need animals and they need you. All life on Earth share a common peril and must operate on that knowledge.

5. Which brings us to John Guerra of Key West, who made a big mistake Friday when he, along with his co-worker, cut down a tree with a nesting dove hidden in its upper branches. The ring-necked dove stayed on her clutch of two eggs even as the chainsaw roared just below her. Those of us on the Recording Angel's staff know you didn't see the mother bird until it was too late, and she escaped unharmed, but those eggs didn't make it when they connected with the ground. Therefore, we are going to file this incident under "Unresolved" unless you spend the rest of your days ensuring animals are cared for whenever you come across a lame cat, a hungry dog, a distressed iquana, or other such being in discomfort. We know you apologized to the mother dove and her mate as they flew about the fallen tree trying to discover the fate of their once-promising brood. They don't speak human, but we believe they got the gist of your apology. That does not excuse you, however, and we on the staff of the Recording Angel will be watching how you treat animals, insects, and other beings you come across.

Aug. 3, 2012
Recording Angel
Department of Behavioral Review



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. An estimated one in twenty five people are born psychopaths. Incapable of empathy.
    The person who did this to the puppies will behave the same way with people.
    They just don't care.

    This could also explain the thugs that beat Wookie and Dude at the Green Parrot.
    They just didn't care.

    Not so Emily Boyd Lowe who brought joy to the lives of others, or the noble Alaskan Fishermen.

    As for you and your co-worker, John, methinks you have answered the question, 'when do doves cry?