Creative Writing from Inside

When we were unable to hold classes inside prisons, we provided Alternative Programming, designed to spark learning, creativity, and healing. We’ll be posting poems, stories, and letters from actors who are incarcerated on this page.
We’ve produced two Creative Writing From Inside videos, with actors who have survived incarceration performing the work written by actors who are currently incarcerated. You can watch them on our YouTube Channel:

 

Sonnet by Pharaoh Brooks, Solano State Prison

I miss my ladies of Shakespeare so dear,
Fate interrupts the plans we had to make.
The state of the world could induce some tears,
But I am convinced we bend and not break.

Racist comments and chatter whisper loud.
White silence equals violence the sign read.
Is love or covid spreading amongst the crowd?
When black men are killed the wolves then get fed.
It’s hard to describe the feelings inside:
Frustration, disrespect, and apathy.
George Floyd’s death may be the turning of the tides,
Cruel intentions shift to a masterpiece.
When the smoke clears I will see you again.

The world just confirmed why we became friends.

Pharaoh Brooks (center, crowned) as Julius Caesar

Poem by Hector Ortiz, Chuckawalla Valley Prison

“El Lechon”

Everyone has a favorite “food,” whether hot or cold;
Mine is of the hot and forbidden kind.
Lechon we call it, a staple of celebration;
On an island so small called Puerto Rico

Slow roasted pig, cooked over a fire pit;
For twelve hours, stuffed with vegetables,
Smothered in delicate spices beyond compare.
A celebration upon itself.

So soft that no chewing is required;
So delicious that it needs no additions;
Yes, it is only made in celebration but that’s okay,
Every day is a celebration upon itself.

So go ahead, seek it out; but it cannot be found,
But rather, the smell of Lechon finds you.


Sonnet by Rudy Murphy, Solano State Prison

“Tipping Points (or) Life’s Symmetry During a Pandemic”

When after tipping points, the dust settled
We find the same things that tore us apart
Will be the things that keep us all mettled,
And temper the journey that all embark
We move past our collective consciousness
Through acts that unite our humanity.
Protection for our truths and perspectives
Give way to engagements of empathy.
As history rendezvous with these points
It waters flowers that grow without rain,
To drown the differences that would exploit
For self love never bloom’d without some pain.
Sometimes tipping points are just what we need
To organize us in life’s symmetry.


By Franklin Lee, Mule Creek State Prison

“All The World’s In Pandemic”

All the world’s in Pandemic,
And all the men and women merely carriers;
They have their infections and their maladies,
And one virus in its times plays many parts,
Its acts being seven victims. At first, the infant
Mewling and puking in the mother’s arms.
Then the house-bond school boy, with his laptop
And weary morning face, creeping like snail
Unabled to school. And then the roommates
Ranting like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Played to his landlord’s eyebrow. Then a doctor,
Full of Hippocratic oaths and masked like the crow,
Heroic in honor, sudden and quick in rescue,
Seeking the humble reputation
Even in the vagrant’s mouth. And then the Bureaucrat,
In fair round belly with good lobster lines,
With eyes shifty and hairpiece of formal cut,
Full of wise ass and modern controversies;
And so he plays his part. The sixth victim shifts
Into the suited and pantless pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and webcam on side;
For his shrunk pay, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish whispers, bills
And mortgage on his card. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange viral history,
Is second resurgence and mere oblivion,
Sans breath, sans breath, sans breath, sans everything.

 

Poem by Spoon Jackson, Solano State Prison

“Almost Sonnet”

Hugs can disarm a cannon and like a cool breeze
Can undo hatred and racism or any foul disease.
A hug can put a madman at ease.
So hug as much and as deep as you please.
Hug me today in your own special way
Instead of two aspirins will two hugs do
We can hug this morning and create a new day
Our hearts warm and cozy where love goes.
Where every dew drop embraced each blade of grass
Where every dew drop caressed each beam of the sun
Where the sweet sand caresses toes of all the lasses
Where every hug unleashes the deepest fun
A group hug long and long will melt the ice
And make everyone peaceful, warm and nice.


Poem by Lajont Hutchins, Solano State Prison

“8 min and 46 seconds”

First Aubry got popped now Floyd can’t breathe,
White man full of hate want to destroy our seeds,
Got to fight to achieve, go to war for my belief.
In a world full of hatred, racism and the greed,
In my time forced to survive COVID, depression, segregation and oppression,
Want a piece of the American dream but that dies with the recession.
This life thing, that’s one hell of a lesson.
Some teach hate in a country where we’re supposed to be great.
We throw away 30% of our plate while there’s hunger in every state.
I take 8 shots for Breanna in 9 minutes for the boy Floyd.
Is that cop going to shoot because I’m black or is the boy just noid?
They say MAGA loves Blacks but in reality that’s dumb noise.
I love Mexican women, they want to kill my kind; and for them they put a wall up.
If your ass not shooting to win then give the ball up.
N*gger what they call us, w*t back, ch*nk or fucking t*w*l head,
Cause my skin’s not white. How could that be
In the home of the brave and the land of the free.

 

Poem by Kelon Williams, Deuel Vocational Institution

“Sincerely”

Sorrow is the pool I swim in.
Not as grim as others may think.
When you’re floating and wading, it’s a beautiful thing.
Yet I dare not leave it lest I do sink.

There are some things too precious to mess up.
Because I tried not, but the grace that is, is
Far more than feelings in the gut.

When seas rush over you and time becomes,
Your known self is a portion of reality that is one.
Composed with partials from the ethereal,
I feel that it can’t be real, so call on

My soul’s desires to leave and plead, too.
Then, like the amazement in a child’s eye, You.

And I’m left to savor the utterance of your presence.


Poem by Joseph Wright, Ironwood State Prison

“Light”

The brightest day is the birth of my son,
He had the best parts of us that were great,
His smile electric and shining like the sun,
I knew that greatness was in his fate.

I knew the moment I seen him that I was blessed,
Heart beated fast this feeling is love,
Beautiful baby boy made from the best,
Heart going so fast it could fly like a dove.

Eyes bright like the moon at night,
Prayed to heaven and God above,
Pulled through that birth had his mother’s fight,
Because God created you for me to love.

Of all the DNA He chose you from the rest,
Cause God knew I’d care and love you best!

 

Poem by Joseph Wright, Ironwood State Prison

“Prisoner Experience”

How is your covid experience,
Is what they asked me,
Nothing new to my existence,
Always fighting to get free.

The world’s going crazy on this lockdown,
Welcome to my everyday life,
Knowing I deserve a crown,
But instead born into strife.

Now you can all relate to my Incarceration,
But on a non-systemic scale,
You’re all merely on a temporary bad vacation,
Yet experiencing a prisoner’s daily hell.

The world will move on with its vaccine,
I just hope they remember us incarcerated human beings.


Short Play by Spoon Jackson, Solano State Prison

“Hollywood”

A
You won’t get a job in Hollywood being an angry Black man

C
Yeah, I know, you think Michael Mann would hire an angry Black man, or Francis Ford Coppola that did the Vietnam movie.

A
We must play the game or starve.

B
Bullshit – it’s okay for angry white men to do whatever the fuck they want –

A
Wait a minute—

[B goes on]

B
When a Black man stands up he’s angry brother. When a White man choke a brother out or shoots one in the back – shoots a young black man in the back at his own grandmother’s house – they are not angry.

[B motions them to listen.]

When a White cop goes up to a Black family in a car and shoots a Black man to death in front of his girlfriend, when a White man executes a Black man being held down on a BART station floor – who the fuck is angry? No, don’t answer that. Your president is an angry pale-faced White man.

A
You’ll never get a job in Hollywood.

C
You have no respect for White folks. You are too angry.

B
If angry means I won’t be kissing any White ass, you are right. There are enough bootlickers like you already – scared to express yourself from fear of being called angry. Which is the new “N” word.

A
I think this son-of-a-bitch is beyond angry.

C
He’s mad and will never work in Hollywood. I hope there are no cameras around.

[B looks up and hopes to find a camera]

A
I bet you think they put cameras up just to watch blacks – people of color – to keep them in their own hoods.

B
An invisible wall as high as the one angry White man wants to build to keep natives and nature out of their own land. Fuck Hollywood – yes, I said fuck Hollywood.

A
We better get away from this guy. Before they think we know him.

C
We do know him – we grew up with him. Until he went away in the military and saw the world –

A
We’ll never get a job in Hollywood, hanging with this guy.

C
You can’t act anyways and it’s not because you Black. No N-word will get the job. Keep your gaze down and don’t look any White man in the eyes.

A
Pretend you don’t know how to read. Pretend you can’t think. Pretend you don’t like White women.

B
Fuck that. I don’t play your servant, no pimp, player, crooks, gangster or scoundrel. I’ll play an angry black man. I’ll play a real one.

Poem by Lajont Hutchins, Solano State Prison

“The Price We Pay”

What type of Black on Black crime do you commit?

Mine was robberies with the cannons.
Usually ends in unresolved violence.
Shots fired and just one black man left standing.

The world used to be all Black like gambling.

And what’s funny is my own people
Won’t be receptive to this and
Say “Oh just another nigga rambling”

Not guilty was the verdict when
The cop killed that unarmed boy

But he was Black, trust it really
Was just a one day story.

It’s more important news to be
Televised while his mother endures
Pain; Hurt & hate. Lack of
Understanding while he tells his lies.

“Oh I thought he had a weapon!”
When he clearly had his hands up

“He was reaching for a gun!”
He was just trying to pull his pants up.

My people got to stand up
They killing our youth while
Getting paid leave not to
Mention they concealing the truth

While you thinking better Him
Than You, could’ve been you, me,
Your son, sister niece, nephew
Or your brother.

When will He be held accountable?
It’s time to form some real unity within the black community.
‘Cause Black is Beautiful.
Stay strong Black people, I love ya.

Prose Poem by Warren Corley, San Quentin

“Focus”

I sit here in Quarantine because of Corona’s “19,” with no clue what the hell that means. Minus the palm tree with the white island sand, and the yum yum cakes with the bottle of Corona in her hand – All man!

…Instead I’m here in San Quentin Isolation, when I suddenly hear a sinister Ovation. Unholy and wicked is how it made me feel, when the goose bumps of fear started to appear, and now I tremble. Looking into the mirror what I resemble is a coward – emasculated – as I hear and see my own demons being congratulated. And it’s crazy because I know these tools are mine – I see them every day, thriving in prime time.

I know them very well because these spirits are fell, and I’ve been slipping for a while now, I couldn’t move as the ice in my bones made me freeze. When a demon named – Choosing Fees – reminded me of every woman that I made pay a price, of innocence lost that could not suffice my distorted vision. Another of my demons named – Prison Bound – turned around, as his clawed fist was pounded. He looked my way and was astounded, that their basic schemes of low expectations worked so well. Amazed that supposedly spiritual man couldn’t escape his personal hell. Sitting all alone with no fantasies to tell, of machismo, women and wealth.

With no knowledge of the self, my rage is the virus after my health.

Holding on to demons from your past will rob, kill, and destroy every positive force you’ll use to employ – clear focus. You’ll hide behind the smoke from the Hocus Pocus of how hard it was being raised on your street. You know how we speak: “Where I’m from every day is bleak, all busted dreams lost in broken concrete. In those cracks I never saw a flower.”

Why not turn your rage into power?

So I stared these demons in the eye and embraced them up close, not from a distance. They tried to escape but in my rage there was persistence. In my overstanding I became an outside witness. And I learned men do cry when their identity descends from the sky, and demonic delusions breathe their last breath. All you’ll need is what’s left…….

Focus!

Thomas Payne, San Quentin

“In the Midst of Maladies”

A silent killer is drawing near
Filling hearts and Minds with fear.
So wear your mask and wash your hands –
It’s spreading all across the land.

But it’s only a few hundred thousand lives,
And convenience requires a sacrifice.
It’s the sick and the old they can’t afford,
But for the rich, what’s a few trillion more?

Turn on the news see what’s in store –
It’s back and forth more threats of war.
They’re holding a man down with a knee in his back!
They think it won’t matter because his skin is black.

But now he’s saying that he cannot breathe!
While the whole world watches in disbelief.
He cries out for his mother with his final breath.
Can we only see the value of life through death?

Wait, here comes a man with a Bible in his hand!
But dominance and violence is what he commands.
Apparently he just doesn’t understand,
The ills and the woes of the common man.

So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,
What’s in store for the Land of the Free…..

Sonnet by Raiveon “Ray Ray” Wooden, San Quentin

“Hopeless”

Covid you took us by surprise.
All these deaths brings me to my knees.
My faith I start to criticize.
Deep in my heart I don’t know what to believe.

What if my parents die.
Me not being there puts me in guilt.
So I lay down and cry.
Then that sadness turns into rage that I built.

Knowing that Death can hit me at any time.
Meanwhile a cop killing George Floyd.
Now Trump saying protesting is a crime.
Now the police are trying to avoid.

Covid got me feeling lifeless.
Not knowing about my parents, got me feeling hopeless.

Sam Kazzouh, San Quentin

Corona, Corona
Covid-19 Pandemic
What have you done?
We all will perish.

Tshombe “Tshombe Amen” Kelley, High Desert State Prison

COVID-19 Inspired song (a la “Ring Around The Rosie”)

Clown, clown, sit and frown
Get up, do nothing, sit back down
Cover your eyes, open your mouth
Go outside and spread it around
Clown, clown, where are you now?
Wishing you’d listened the first shut down.

Darwin “Tall” Billingsley, San Quentin

Covid the invisible,
Can make you miserable,
Mask it! Mask it!
‘Fore it takes you out.

Tshombe “Tshombe Amen” Kelley, High Desert State Prison

“Tshombe’s First”

I’d always seen San Quentin crossing the San Rafael Bridge on the way to visit family in Sausalito. I was scared for the people in there and frightened I’d be thrown in there as a kid The San Rafael Bridge is beautiful. The ocean underneath, the birds on the small island facing San Francisco, but once you get off there’s this ugly oil refinery. It’s like a sore a beautiful leg of flesh. Then you turn on the winding road and after the refinery, there it is, San Quentin.

I got there early in the morning – on the Alameda County bus. There were almost forty of us, we were taken into R&R where [there were] cages, and cages with benches, booths and windows. Each booth and window had a purpose – clothing, pictures, health, and affiliate processing. By mid-afternoon we were put outside in a cage so another county bus ould be received and processed. Some guards came a few hours later to take us to South Block’s Badger section. San Quentin’s blocks are five tiers with fifty cells on each tier. The noise is unbelievable. I felt like crying. All the times passing it [San Quentine], I was finally in it. I was taken to a cell with no light or window and on January 26th, 2001, night came quickly. All by myself with no light, I was able to cry myself to sleep.

Letters to the World
As part of our Self Care packet, we asked people to write a “Letter to the World.  Below are some of the moving letters, as well as more poetry and other creative writing.

Lajont Hutchins, Solano State Prison

Hello World,

I am Lajont Hutchins and I would like to start by saying I hope all is well, I hope you and your family remain safe and COVID free. I pray for all the families that have been affected by this pandemic, and I know the shocks and pressures provided by this pandemic can sometimes be overwhelming. Many people want to give up but I would like you to know that it gets better. I don’t know what your personal situation is at the moment, but you must find a way to smile and carry on. I’m currently in prison so my contact with my family, friends and loved ones are very limited, but I continue to remind myself that this is just a temporary situation. Just like COVID it’s just a temporary discomfort and no matter what, we have to find a way to get through it.

To assist myself at times when I’m down or not feeling too great about my situation, I find ways to remind myself that I’ve survived so much and been through worse, and that this is just another obstacle to get over. So remind yourself that yu’re a winner, a survivor, that you are resilient, and keep pushing because you’re a beautiful soul and you matter. Someone loves you and needs to hear your voice or see your face to inspire them to keep going. So my message to the world is: Sometimes we have the ability to affect people’s lives without even knowing. So, continue to inspire each other and don’t stop blessing the world with your presence, because you matter.

Respectfully yours,

Lajont Hutchins

Jesse Ayers, San Quentin

“COVID-20 and The Shuffle of San Quentin”

Every single incarcerated person living inside San Quentin contracted COVID-19; 26 died. The only incarcerated people who did not contract COVID-19 are the people in H-Unit, who live outside the walls of San Quentin in a quaint gated community located just next to the Bay. It is the fresh breeze from the Bay which blows through the open windows of the dorms in H-Unit, providing the cure to COVID-19…. Fresh air, constact circulation of fresh air, along with social distancing, masks, and sanitary surfaces, constant cleaning by the Porters (Incarcerated janitors). If 100% of the U.S. population contracted COVID-19 there would’ve been approximately 3.5 MILLION DEATHS! Would the U.S. population be ok with the “same ole” strategy moving forward? Why is CDCR allowed to “get back to work” using the same old ways, commonly known as “The Shuffle.”

This week CDCR will resume transfers from county jails to CDCR reception centers, fully aware of the death and disease that will undoubtedly follow in the aftermath of COVID-19. San Quentin will no longer be used as a reception center, and they will be shipping out all death row inmates to create an “Honor program” up top. San Quentin has over 150 programs for rehabilitation, this is the “red carpet” of the prison system, everyone wants to come here. Celebrity visits from the likes of Kim Kardashian, to the Golden State Warriors; “The Q” is the place to be. Yet, because of the COVID-19 crisis, the 170 year old prison has shown its weakness. The dilapidated old cell blocks up top have no air circulation, no ventilation, creating a death trap for all who live there…

CDCR cannot be allowed to continue “the shuffle,” constantly moving inmates around, creating more spread of COVID-19 and causing more senseless and preventable deaths. Even 9 of their own officers have tragically died as a result of the unsafe practices they are used to doing. Death traps like San Quentin’s North, West, East, and South blocks need to be shut down! The 170 year olf prison has already been condemned out due to shady math and bureaucratic “favors” this place has stayed open. H-Unit was built in 1995, outside San Quentin; every other part of San Quentin (besides the new hospital) is decrepit and disgusting! No other prison in this country is as old as San Quentin and still houses as many inmates.

No one on this earth should be subjected to the claustrophobic 5x7ft cells of San Quentin. CDCR continues to torture its population by housing people in teeny tiny cells. CDC has recently release a statement: “Our population has never been lower in 30 years.” Due to the pandemic, CDCR was not allowed to transfer people from jail to prison, but they were forced to release people, so the numbers had no choice to go down… Now that they will be bringing people in from the county jails again, the numbers are going to shoot right back up! CDCR will keep doing “The Shuffle” like always! It’s like the shell game, with the ball under, you gotta pick the shell with the ball under it… CDCR moves quick and is stealthy with all their cold calculated slick moves…

Any new arrivals will be subjected to the same cruel and unusual punishment as everyone before! There has always been a “Qutnin cough” and “Quentin crud” that has gone on without diagnosis because health experts here don’t do anything! Now with COVID-19, and the flu, we are in big trouble. Influenza has been around for over 100 year! The flu morphs every year! What will be do when COVID-19 turns into COVID-20 and then COVID-21? What about when the “Super Flue” mixes with “Killer COVID?!” How many dead bodies are gonna be piled up outside the gates of San Quentin???

The cell blocks up top are inhumane, just like the slave ships that brought Africans to the Americas, not too long ago. 5,000 people visit Alcatraz every day. Alcatraz had its own outbreak of tuberculosis back in the day and Alcatraz was shut down. Why is old San Quentin still in operation? The cell blocks up top have no air, no ventilation, the inmates breathe in each others gas, carbon dioxide, and COVID-19! How does 100% of the people contract COVID-19 and after they are all “healed” CDCR is allowed to “resume normal program?” It has already been proven that a person can catch COVID-19 more than once! Why is CDCR now removing the tents used by nurses to treat patients? How is it ok to subject everyone to COVID all over again? CDCR needs to shut down and ship out the cell blocks up to! No one should be subject to suffering like that. We all know COVID-20 is coming, so is the flus, so who is going to make sure CDCR does not pack us in like sardines again? Who is going to ensure that early releases continue? Who is going to make sure that rehabilitated people, violent and non-violent, are released? This remind me of when “Cool Hand Luke” was shot in the neck, bleeding to death, the warden in the movie (Strother Martin) said “He’s ours, we’re taking him to the prison hospital.” The smile on Luke’s face (Paul Newman) said it all… We are not smiling in the face of death… Who is gonna help us???

Pharaoh Brooks, Solano State Prison

Dear World,

My name is Pharaoh Elisha Brooks, and I love you. I’ve noticed I often get from you what I hand out. I feel like there is always a part of me you will not understand. Maybe that’s because of your nature, or perhaps mine. World, I deserve love, consideration, understanding, and compassion. But when it is not show amongst the greatest of you, I can see why you fall short. Judge me by my actions. I want them to speak for me. I will heal you: you need me. I speak to the rhythm of the heartbeat of the people. I know your I know your dark secrets and I see evidence of your atrocities. The hundreds of acres burning are merely a reflection of the hundreds of thousands of lives you toss to the fire daily. The hurricanes and flooding represents the disproportion of wealth. The rich flooded with riches while the earth cries out for the hungry and thirsty.

I am grateful for health. COVID gave me a chance to appreciate what really matters. Material and insubstantial things evaporated. I could do less, but life meant more. Not my life, but the value of human life, period. I am fortunate to be at a place where COVID-19’s impact has been limited, and I hope it stays that way.

I expect people to live and be more grateful post-COVID-19, no matter how short-lived. I hope to express myself and others through performing arts of all kinds. I suspect I will work closely with Marin Shakespeare and do some things that haven’t been done before. I will heal through the arts. The nucleus of this cell regeneration is love. I hope to teach people how Marin Shakespeare has touched me.

My dream is to open myself to be used by the creators to my fullest capacity, whatever that includes. I would like to travel the world and experience culture. Ll in all bringing love to the world through education and entertainment.

Sincerely,

Pharaoh Brooks

Raiveon Wooden, San Quentin

Dear World,

My name is Raiveon Wooden and what I want you to know about me is that I am a survivor. On the news I see and hear people, being locked up in the house during this crisis, and they all complaining on how why do we have to be locked up at with our parents. Well grow up. I will do anything to be with my family at a time like this. Being in prison not knowing when you are going to die at any time, do you guys know how that feels? No way out, no place to run, just alright my time is up, and gets what? Covid will be right at your door.

Haven’t heard from my family, no letters, “Hey RayRay I hope you are okay and I am here for you.” Nothing. Not a damn thing. My dream was to be an actor, act next to Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, and Denzel, but it seems the Covid might shattered my dreams, if she decides to pick me.

Darius Goodie, Duele Vocational Institution

“Letter to the World”

I want the world to know I want to do better. Better actions are in my future and I want to move forward in that manner. There are dreams I want to make true, a family I want to love, and show them something more.

The world is all of ours and there is a place for me and you. That’s the wonder of it all, if you work hard and live clean, you can be a part of the food the world has to offer. I want to help myself help the world.

Jose Lopez, Duele Vocational Institution

“Letter to the World”

The world has slowed down because of COVID-19 attacking everybody in reach. COVID does not discriminate about who it grabs in its claws, and because of it, Americans have learned to experience what life is like inside their home without much work, school, clubs, bars or vacation trips. Relationships have been tested and many have failed.

Not much has changed for me other than being a bit more distant from my family because visits were cancelled, but even then, I’ve been in similar situations when I was too far for my family to visit often. Most of my life I’ve had support when in prison, however, this place still somehow manages to make me feel I’m on my own. I’ve spent a great amount of time with myself, like what people are experiencing nationwide.

These experiences have taught me to enjoy life anywhere I am. I’ve learned to be happy and optimistic when times are good or tough. Life is beautiful and will unexpectedly challenge our spirit to see if we can endure its ugly side. There’s a lesson to be learned from everyday and with perseverance, our goals are attainable. I dream of one day owning my own business, investing money, owning my own home, and providing a stable future for my children.

In the meantime, its business as usual. I’m using this time of isolation to sharpen my mind and plan in detail how I will execute all my goals next time the world is ready for me.

 

Hans Petersen, Duele Vocational Institution

The universe sees
only itself
through our eyes.

 

Albert Bell, Mule Creek State Prison

“Letter to the World”

Dear World,

This is Mr. Bell writing to you. I want you to know that it is very important to consider others. Other people, other cultures, other creatures, other places and other people’s languages.

Take time to love. Put love in all things if possible, because love makes life so much better for everyone and everything. And don’t be in so much of a rush to do things. Take time, make time to be able to really ponder things. Be wise and use your power of choice in a good way.

Resist and rebuke open negativity, hostility, bigotry and that which is felt to be something foul or not right. Including that which tears apart and tears down. And please, love the earth more! The more you love the earth, the more the earth will love you.

I love peace, family, music, and good food! For most, COVID shall pass by. Pray for all people of the world. When we people, the human race, work together in love, nothing is impossible because with love, with god, all things are possible.

Peace be unto you all!

 

Rudy J. Murphy, Solano State Prison

“The Gift”

“There is no force greater than the force of someone who perseveres,” W.E.B. Dubois, 1910. I imagine when he said those words, he was watching an iceberg of his self-awareness crest, that the drive to lift himself, his family, and community came from what he saw. Mine came from what I had become.

After years of ignorance, selfishness, arrogance, greed and manipulative behavior, there, in the silhouette of my cognitive distortions, came the cresting of my own self-awareness. The sentence of life without parole.

Notwithstanding, the punishment being life in prison, reframing my position allowed me to see it as an undeserved gift. Freedom through the chance to find out who I am.

In my search for a quiet place to reflect, I found myself in the chapel of a prison in central California. Instead of finding the “quiet” I thought I needed, I found smiles, laughter, hugs and tears. Things not readily connected to quiet time, and reflection. The simple hug from a stranger, the embrace of a smile were so non-judgmental that for me, the quiet came not from the external, but from the internal.

I began to realize I was still shackled to an audible distortion of childhood trauma. That trauma played upon the subconscious recorder in my mind, like the black noise that appeared on the taped conversations between ex-president Nixon and his trusted aides after Watergate. Yet, they were buried so deep, I didn’t recognize their existence. It created a brief childhood lapse in life’s nursery, distorting my identity.

I spent the first 18 years of my current 24 year incarceration in denial-based emotional dysfunction, and another four embracing the switch in favor of using the intellectual part of my brain instead of the emotional part.

As a child, I did not have the words to describe what I was being instilled with, but I did have its actions. Because long before a child understands words, he or she understands touch. Today, I know everything we think or do begins and ends in our minds. To coin one of my new core beliefs, “know what is at stake.”

So, why did it take 18 years for me to realize what I needed to rehabilitate? The answer is multi-faceted. The denial and trauma is not just in regard to my past crime. It is also “thought” and its subsequent behavioral expressions over my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, that demonstrated I was the deeply troubled, high risk problem, not those around me.

What I learned, a person needs a functional mind in order to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers. Granted, I do not yet have all the right answers, and I never will. However, the answer to my own personally flawed dilemma was to educate myself about the world around me (prison), and the one I could not be a part of.

Most incarcerated people have to rely on prison programs (i.e. self help groups, A.A., N.A., CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Denial Management, etc.) that only cover the symptoms of personal dysfunctions, they do not assist with a person discovering and correcting his, or her, underlying issues.

I was briefly fortunate in having the means to purchase materials needed once understanding the full scope of what I needed. For the incarcerated, prison was never set up for such an introspective journey. Along with this new perspective, I set out to navigate why “prison life” was so maleficent in manner. I began to view it from a secondary vantage point. One that sheds light on something so crippling for most, it undoubtedly gives way to why there is a serious lack of change.

The tragic comedy behind “rehabilitation” are those who come in feeling negative about the opportunity, impugning its bottom line. But the past is prologue.

No longer is the inaccessibility of educational books, therapy, or self-help, a subjugating weight. This “gift” was not given in an instant moment, because these “gifts” are not just an individual concept. It is a collective. A journey guided along by those who treat people like people, whose catch-as-catch-can mentality is no less kindled by the transparency of their own journeys. The Gift is many things to many people. For some, they are just now reaching out because this Gift – being the bridge between people, as I now understand, a rejected opportunity to give it is a loft opportunity to receive it.

 

Rudy J. Murphy, Solano State Prison

“As The Father”

Opens with Lord Fremont observing his son Young Warley from a distance. His son seems in distress but he does not know why.

Act 1 Scene 1

LORD FREMONT:
Forbear the one who lets emotions heat;
That scorches romance before its ballet.
Who then? Resembling a breathless heartbeat
Has lost the moment of loves attached.

The closeness twixt the mind and soul departs,
In resin from the footprints of a twit.
Whose actions marred the surface of the heart
With word and deed exposed as counterfeit.

When bellies filled from bowls of Ambrosia
Have soured from the milkweed dusted souse,
Find love hath bitten both like a cobra,
Embrace comfort in what each hath lost.

To love another is to lose thyself,
But find within the true meaning of wealth.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

Ya cruzando la frontera todo queda arreglado.
Primero me regresan muerto que yo vivir a tu lado.
La vida es muy corta asi que no jueguen con ella.
No nos hagamos desentendidos que el destino lo pone en ella.
A nosotros lo mexicanos nos mada la suerte dentro de una botella.

 

“Responsibilidad Y Naturaleza”  (“Responsibility and Nature”)

Todos la temenos, pocos practicamos la responsabilidad
De cuidar nuestra madre naturaleza
Mas todas las cualidades que temenos como la bella habilidad
De ser fuerte y de gozar de una buena Fortaleza.

Padre yarquitecto de la creacion
Donde a quedado tu pueblo que es nuestra generacion
Ellos han fabricado bastante contaminacion
Ahora mismo estan pasando hombre y destruccion

Por causa humanas hay eventos irresponsables
No te preocupes la humanidad es irrasonable
Trabajan major las hormigas y no se cuelgan tantos cables
Porque nosotros los humanos temenos cerebros desechables.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

“Ingrata humanidad” (“Ungrateful Humanity”)

Tal vez tu piensas que la tierra es una fiesta
Donde tu eres el invitado elegante.
Dejame decirte que es la Fiest mal organizada
Pues todos corremos hacia ambos lados y es decepcionante.

Corremos a divertirnos ynos olvidamos de nuestra salud
Nos refusamos a seguir recomendaciones
A la semana estas en vacaciones en ataud
Y salimos y a culpar a otros por nuestras acciones.

Porque eres tan buena gente y te preocupas por llenar los panteones
Eres mal agradegicdo y a tu familia les rompes los corazones.
No te preocupes en este munde se han muerto millones
Acuerdate lo que hizo Hitler con la esterilizacion.

Solo ocupo tres meses, yse puso en accion
Pero acuerdate que Estados Unidos tiro una bomba en Japon.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

“Accion Concientisada” (“Conscientious Action”)

Las acciones siempre tienen reacciones
Algunos se molestan pues rompe corazones
Pero cuando eres de accio dejas todo de Corazon
No importa si quedas abandonado como perro en prision
Para morir donde quiera es buena ya sean en un callejo.
Amigos de Shakespeare donan una caja de carton
Para recordar un estudiante tuyo que anduvo en accion.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

“Emociones Dificiles” (“Difficult Emotions”)

Trabajar no deja tiempo para la tristeza
Mas la ocupaciones aleja la agresividad
No hay espacio para la tentacion
No dejes vacio llena todo lo que puedes, asi
No quedara tiempo para los emociones toxicas
Porque soy lo que soy, Dios no creo basura, fuimos
Echos para ser admirables. No dejes que el mundo te
Mire como un miserable.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

Letra para el mundo (Letter to the world)

Para el mundo:

Querido mundo, te escribe desde la prision para saludarte y darle gracias por todo lo que me brindas, y mando saludos a la Flora y Fauna. Prosigo a lo siguiente:

Quiero pedirte disculpos por todos esos lidered mundiales idiotas y mediocres, y Tambien de parte de los bonberos de todas las naciones tremendous imbeciles. Incluyendo los guardias nacionales y militarizadas, disculpalos por favor te lo pide. Se sirven del poder.

Bueno mundo quiero que sepas que hice muy poco por ti pero me sigo tragando tu aire y el agua que produces todos los dias. Hago eso definitivamente, soy un mediocre.

Mundo, un solo error hice y me condenaron como todo un verdadero peligroso. Nadie pregunto que si pasa algo conmigo. Quiero decirte que el dia que abandone esta prision, plantare arboles por donde quiera que pase para recompensar el dano de otros.

Tambien to comunico que todos esas ambientalistas que salen defendiendote en la television son hipocritas, cuando hacen juntos para hablar de ti. Llegan en aviones, barcas y limosina con tanto bioxido de carbono como nunca, y todos llevan cantidades de botellas plastico llenas de agua, y producen bastante radiacion para sus bombas nucleares.

Tambien te pido disculpes por todos los incendios y derrames de petroleo y de la basura que hay en el oceano. Mundo, soy un desgraciado por todo lo que te hice. Hare lo possible por abandoner (leave) este lugar para hacer la diferencia con humildad.

Mundo, tengo la esperanza que la pandemia del COVID-19 mate todos los irresponsible que no cumplen con las reglas, y si crees que yo soy toxico liquidame pronto. Tambien pienso que la pandemia es una limpieza para ti, mundo. Tanto extres (stress) te das cuenta mundo como el lider mundial te desafia. Todos son iguales, se sirven del poder para danar a los mas vulnerable. Hasta hace y predicen casi como profetas sobre la pandemia del coronavirus. Somos fragiles y Buenos para destruir.

En el future tengo esperanzas que tu, mundo, te hagas tu propia proceso, limpiandote y desintegrando todo lo que este encima de ti, porque to proceso no falla, y todos sabemos que no ocupas la humanidad para limpiarte.

Les hago saber al mundo y a ti – dejenos de invader los lugares donde no nos corresponde. Dejemos espacio para la flora y la fauna, ydejar de tene animals en cautivo.

Tambien le mando un mensaje al Governador de California, todo su gabinete, y su Sistema de prisiones. Tengo casi 4 anos prisionero y me siento como un tremedo inioto porque durantes esos anos no he podido agarrar educacio de nada. Yo quiero mejorarme para ser alguien. Lo unico que me ofrecieron fue el limpiar pisos.

Senor governador, quiero educacion y entrenamient y ayuda para mejorar y cambiar – y no pongas excusas de la pandemia, necesito algo para enfrentarme a mi amigo el mundo.

Si tu Sistema no puede darme eso porque miraro la oportunidad de dinero conmigo, pongame a prueba para obtener una oportunidad ydemonstrar lo contrario.

Admiro a una person que cambia y no a una que a sido Bueno siempre.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

“Paula Victoria”

Paula Victoria un panal de abejas te engendro
Eres tan dulce mi hija mia que Dios te bendicio

Paula Victoria la inseminacion artificial funciono
Cuando tu naciste eras Hermosa y el perrito
Chihuahua de murio.

Paula Victoria cuando tu llegaste la Familia
Se manifesto, pero tu abula estaba anojada
Y con los ojos retorcidas quedo.

 

Mauro Ramos, Ironwood State Prison

“Ring Around the Corona Virus”

Cuando estamos Buenos y sanos no queremos el hospital.
Todos dicen que soy muy fuerte solo a las debiles el coronavirus le va dar.
Que descracio de personas con un nivel alto que van a fallar.
Cuando peirden sus familiars pronto se quieren justificar.

La pandemia del corona virus no respeta nivel de Sociedad
El coronavirus trae estilo para trabajar
Les come todo por dentro y su plato favorito es sopita pulmonar
Y su trago favorito es un mojito calientito y se llama falta de respirar

El coronavirus esta cualquier lugar
Varios famosos le han compuest canciones y lo hicieron popular
No es por gusto que le component estoy Seguro que les mato un familiar
Hermanos dense animo yo estoy con ustedes y los vamos a derrotar.

Dicen que Batman y Superman a New York fueron a vacacionar.
El tal coco los miro sin mascara; a lost res dias no podian respirar.
La noticiera le llego a la Organizacion mundial de lo salud y les hizo reaccionar
Los pusieron en cuarantena porque esa batalla ellos no puden pelear.

Los doctors especializades son los unicos que lo van a ganar.

 

Darius Goodie, Deule Vocational Institute

My legacy to be of honor
Make it last before I’m a goner
Like to make a better life
For me my kids and wife
Make it right day and night
I only see you in my sight
Legacy of love to last forever
To carry my heart with you wherever.

 

Crony Nguyen, High Desert State Prison

“Rock”

Comprised from dirt,
that was confined together

Underprivileged,
I was structured under pressure.

Chipped at, stepped on,
thrown in water to drown.

Always silenced,
I was never to make a sound.

Creation of life,
I was never take into account.

Overlooked, mistaken,
love was never an amount.

 

I am stressed solid,
so you can stand on

You break me down
To form your structures strong.

You relied on me
to provide your shelter,

To keep you safe
in the most horrific weather.

You keep me underfoot
to make yourself feel superior.

You do everything to mask
that you are inferior.

You beast,
this world is made for you.

You can’t even control
the one thing, that’s you.

Maybe one day
you will understand.

Appreciate what’s under your feet,
And you’ll become human.

 

James Kevin Scales, Mule Creek State Prison

“Incarceration”

Trail of tears             Sent away far from home
Life without                 A maelstrom of emotion
Immigration                That abyss inside of you
No light    No hope
Doors closed              I chuckle at what they’ve said to me
But sighed deeply             Adventure unfolds

Weep not for me, for I am dead.
But weep for thee, who will never see home again.

 

Pharaoh Brooks, Solano State Prison

“Band of Brothers Speech”

Can we still continue to love…
Even though Trump hates us, Republicans
And Democrats debate us, while we figure out
Who is the fakest.

Can we still continue to love…
And forgive White American, while they continue
To bury us, no remorse or empathy eventually
Builds walls and barriers, increased hate on set
Dates and areas, protest against protest and an
Attempt to trivialize traumatic terrorists.

Can we still continue to love…
While being treated worse than human, while
Being treated as the worst humans, while being
Harassed by Karens as a nuisance, while tragedy
And disaster continue to ruin,

Can we still continue to love…
While the evolution of mankind goes backwards,
The hate of the leaders is backed by words,
Back to back the innocent get killed, and
The police’s comeback was worse – no charges filed.

Can we still continue to love…
When you tell me it’s wrong to stand up and fight,
When wrong is right if you’re white, not
To mention you limit my rights, and rig the
System to hinder my type, speaking for the
Present, future, and hindsight

Can we still continue to love…
Of course we can and will as we continue to get killed,
Murdered, misused, abused, lose, snooze, and still put in
A noose, what else are we going to do, it’s in our
Nature, given to us by the Creator.

As we continue to love…
White people ask “What are we supposed to be afraid of?”
The lies I was told, were made up. I used to hold
On to hate, but I gave up.

As we continue to love…
The racist man has a granddaughter the color of sand, he
Looks into her eyes and holds her hand, he realizes
His heart starts to expand, love wasn’t part of the
Plan, but nevertheless it crept in.

As we continue to love…
Cowardice hours adjust, the home of the brave
Lives up to her name, the KKK and police are
No longer one IN the same, the people force
Senators to change, minorities to majority
Exchange, so the powers that be take heed
To discrimination claims.

So they were forced to love.

 

Sam Kazzouh, San Quentin State Prison

Wisdom is a bald majestic eagle
Wisdom is high as Mount Everest and deep as Mariana Trench
Wisdom is a prevailing sun in a nuclear war cloud
Wisdom is the rock called the pyramids
Wisdom is the tranquil water in a violent stream.

 

Kelon Williams, Deule Vocational Institute

“Love/Emptiness=? (The Unknown)”

I’ve seen you smile,
Notice even more, every time you cry.
Watched you as you laughed,
The hide the sorrow in your sigh.

When you hold onto the warmth.
Living a moment amongst your breath.
As if to release an exhale,
Is to expose a secret being kept.

For even in the darkest caves
You shine with the luminaries
While the shame and truth you carry
Can never scare me

Rest your eyes, in my eye
And know the voice of peace.
Wrap yourself in the comfort
Of the words I speak.

I see you, I hear you
I know you, I am here!!!

Knock, knock.

 

Shon Williams, Deule Vocational Institute

Roses are red, some violets are brown
Call home using the telephone
But, to cheer up, use affirmations
Such as —— love Shon.

Nevertheless, compassion’s my quest
I have little sugar I must confess.

 

Shon Williams, Deule Vocational Institute

“Success through a Positive Attitude”

Covid-19, the first serious pandemic
They say it came from China
I however think it didn’t
Instead man made to destroy America.

This may seem to be a negative attitude
But, believe me, Blacks view D. Trump as rude
Consequently, as president he’s been removed
Today, many despite covid-19 have a positive attitude

I question my imprisonment as no mistake
Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake
15 years with 85 percent
God straightening my attitude 100%

There’s possibility that I may be free
I’m ready to earn my doctorate in psychiatry.

 

Jesse Origel, Ironwood State Prison

“To Wear or Not To Wear – That is the question”

To wear a mask, this is how I describe you!

As follows: You are a beautiful human. A baker’s dozen of roses, that’s twelve plus one.

A newly discovered planet that sheds light on everyone.

Air conditioning on a hot day.

You’re a wish come true on your birthday.

You’re a rainbow after the storm.

You are an extraordinary human being far from norm.

You’re golden lilies in pools of silver

You are a legacy that lasts forever.

To NOT wear a mask, this is how I describe you.

As follows: I dare say thou

Artless rough-hewn apple-john

Thou bawdy pox-marked bugbear

Thou rank cray-brained flax-wench

Thou impish skunk-breath tadpole

Thou vain urchin-snouted scut

Thou spongy toad-spotted skainsmate

Thou frothy flap-mouthed harpy

Thou fool-born folly-fallen foot licker

Thou craven rotten-tongue death token

THOU INFECTIOUS EARTH-VEXING LOUT & that is being nice.

Wear a mask.

You can be on that side  if you do.

 

Lajont Hutchins, Solano State Prison

I’m fighting for World Peace
Because we all need to live
When I fight for me I fight for you
I feel like we’ve come so far but still so far to go
To help me in this fight, I will use my voice, my abilities to reach people,
And my platforms, also my allies.
What I want the world to see is we’re all made matter, so we all matter.
What I want my friends to know is that I’m a great friend and a great man.
What I want to feel is a sense of peace.

 

Ronell “Rauch” Draper, San Quentin State Prison

Beneath the layers of pain
I’ve seen that haters have fueled my gains.

 

Ronell “Rauch” Draper, San Quentin State Prison

“Being Immortal”

The immortal beings who go on never leaving
The members like heavenly beings, creatures
Moving about as if thru portals
Reigniting love’s dying embers.

What is it? The problem can’t be fixed, and ends beautiful relationships.
Is the truth so much less valued than what is proven false in current Real?
I hope it can be corrected with a new creation
And $ no longer dictates all deals no matter how it makes us feel.

Doing the work, putting forward effort and why
It seems to be so empty of an existence, a useless chase
So, still I’m fighting not to quit it all and say goodbye
Begin it all brand new with a strong base.

To say, it’s clear, what’s needed for our world to heal and move ahead.
Would be pointless to share since so few are willing to hear and of them fewer seem to care.

 

Ronell “Rauch” Draper, San Quentin State Prison

“The Hard 19”

Without warning out of nowhere, it dropped
Didn’t they hear, didn’t we care, yet we dared
We could see it, we could hear it, we could stop it.
Misled, heart broked, suff’ring, dreaded, uncared.

We withdrew into our corners
We viewed the pain in devices like mirrors
We built up protective borders
We feared seeing what covid 19 was the bearer.

Could love be the truth, heal the world, past proof
Couldn’t we all give it a try and see
Could it be worse than life, without a clue
Couldn’t we choose what we know we won’t lose.

Without seeing it we force and we shove
The one thing we can achieve and that’s love.

Ronde Crissinger, Mule Creek State Prison

“Dearest Dad”

In body, I experienced the pain
Each day I had to wake to you again
Your love I felt between the times of tears
The times of peace that hid behind the fears
To Bacchus you devoted most of your time
Revels that left us far behind

Your echoes thru my mind are fewer now
It’s no surprise to me exactly how
I’ve traveled further than your lessons taught
It seems, to me, that now it’s all for naught
The ego leads me when I let it go
The Now, the Past has brought me here to know

The veil is thin and deep within I seek
The love for you my spirit often speaks
I welcome you on this most awesome night
Forgiving all that is within my right
I claim success this night in every way
Let’s start this year by loving every day.

Blessed be!

 

Kelon Williams, Deule Vocational Institution

“Letter to Self”

Dearest Kelon,

I have been considering what to write and how to write it, yet as I sat and thought about it the more confused I became. When in actuality, Kelon, I need to just tell you how amazing you are.

So many times I know you wish you could have someone list your ways of appreciation, which is why I’m writing this to you.

The way you’re able to weave words into imagery of mental sight is amazing. Giving hugs without hugging a person. Kelon, you can see things that make sense, like why building forts in the living room is so much better than the bedroom. Seriously though, I know you’re not a kid anymore and to some it may not be cool to utilize their imagination as an adult.

Well, who cares about that, I don’t! I care about the way you have met the creative challenge of becoming a character in multiple plays and give them their own individual life. Through your vocal abilities, the physical movement of your body and the inner confidence, you used to do it.

I do admire you for that. And even though it is a little hard for me to say it, I want you to know that I love you man, for all that you’ve been doing, and who you have become, the authentic you.

Love, Kelon.

 

James Kor, Deule Vocational Institution

“Kor’s Fish Story”

In the spring of 1996 I took my sister and three nephews on what was to be my last fishing trip. In the preceding week I had gone on a road trip to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay area and had decided to return via the Coast Highway. I chose the coastal route back not merely because of how beautiful it is, but also to spend a few days fishing at various points along the way. By the time I made it as far back north as Santa Cruz I was thinking about going out on a charter boat to catch salmon. I was also then close enough to invite my sister Kristi, another fishing fanatic, and her three boys, Jesse, Joey, and Robert, ages 19, 12, and 4 respectively.

The day before the trip I spent the day catching and releasing mackerel off the Santa Cruz pier. By mid-afternoon the party boats were returning from the sea nd I paid attention to one of the in particular. When its passengers had disembarked I walked to where it was docked and noticed it was owned by Dtagnaro and Sons. One of the boat’s crew was spraying the boat clean so I introduced myself and found out I was talking to Dino Stagnaro, the grandson of the company founder. He confirmed that it was salmon the boat was currently going after so I told him I wanted to pay for a spot for myself, in advance, and also give him a fifty dollar tip in advance to reserve extra spots on the boat if my sister and her boys could make it.

As soon as my sister and the kids arrived I advised everyone to take one of the Dramamine tablets I had purchased to ensure against seasickness on the boat. My nephew Jesse and his girlfriend decided they were grown up enough not to need such a precaution. Both of them became ill within the first 45 minutes out on the ocean and felt so bad neither of them fished at all. The rest were fine, even though 4 year old Robert did not fish either. My sister, her 12 year old, Joey and myself combined to catch the first fish, the last fish, the biggest fish, and the most fish. Because we had paid for 6 spots on the boat the law allowed our party to take two fish per person. We did not limit out but, instead, got eight fish, with my nephew Joey catching an eighteen pounder. Kristi did the best, catching four.

We made sure to hold Robert up so he could share in the excitement when we were landing several of the fish. We did the same when fate smiled on us and brought both dolphins and whales within easy viewing distance. We had a blast. Jesse and his girlfriend Sydney? Not so much. In fact, in retrospect, I can see I was quite the horse’s ass to make the point they should have listened to me about taking the Dramamine. The way I did it was by biting the whole anchovy baits in two, swallowing them and chasing that brand of sushi with big chugs of Jack Daniels whiskey straight from the bottle, and right in front of them. They were not amused.

On our way from the boat to our cars that afternoon we came upon a father and his son and daughter as they had waited for us. The father complimented us on how well we had done and then he asked if we might spare a fish as they had not caught any at all. Obvious to me today, a quarter of a century later there couldn’t have been much going through my mind other than that I was in too much of a hurry to be bothered. What an idiot I was and what an opportunity I lost and now regret, very much. I did not even afford them the time to think about it, said “no” and kept on walking.

We look back to cast new light upon old mistakes and see them through older, wiser eyes. I have no children but, on many other occasions, have tried to teach my sister’s children good. That day of the salmon fishing trip I made a mistake sine I had been given an excellent opportunity to teach them, and that man’s boy and girl, a real good lesson. Reward comes through the giving itself, and I can personally attest to this truth having done it before.  This same good message of the blessing of giving lies within Portia’s magnificent plea in The Merchant of Venice,”  by Shakespeare, when she speaks of “the quality of mercy… It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

In the context of this fishing story all of us present that day could have been blessed had I the wisdom to have seen what I should have. So here is what I would do and say if, by some magic, we could turn back time to give me a redo: following the father’s request I would smile at him and his children and take a long moment to choose my words properly. I would have lined all eight of our salmon next to each other. Then I would kneel down and talk to the man’s kids loud enough so that my nephews, sister, and Sydney could also hear me. I would tell those kids that I too had been out fishing before and not caught any fish. I would try to engage them by asking them whether or not they thought it was pretty great to have been able to see whales and dolphins so close to the boat. I would promise them that if they came back on future trips they would catch fish. I would ask them to remember what was happening right now so that one day maybe they would be able to pass the fish on to another family who did not catch any fish. I would not offer them the biggest fish because that was my nephew’s prize. I would not offer them the smallest fish. I would tell them I did catch the second largest of the salmon and we would be very proud and feel very good if they would accept it.

 

Kelon Williams, Deule Vocational Institution

“My Favorite Color”

If this was a question that was posed to me when I was in primary school it would be rather easy for me to write. Having to choose now is a lot more complicated.

The one thing I have been sure about, is that all colors are the best being what they are the best at. There is a melody from colors within the symphony of life that can never be recreated. The hope is to only keep the rhythm.

As a child, the blue richness of the sky was the gateway for my imagination, as I laid upon the grass at “Coco Reef” after playing soccer with my cousins and friends.

Time progressed and age came upon me accompanied by the miseries of life. Roughly around the age of 12, I developed an adoration for the color purple. Having read in the bible how the color was used to adorn valuable things as well as reading other stories that depicted people of royalty in color. I desired a life and history that was better than the one I experienced.

Plus whenever I stood in front of a mirror (preferably the one on the hallway outside my room) and saw my image, I wanted, no, I needed to believe that the boy staring back at me was special.

I painted my bedroom lavender. When it came time for me to get a suit fr my confirmation, I choose one that was deep dark purple in shade. Which I also ended up wearing to my eight grade graduation dance. Yet, the same way reality set in for Cinderella to who she was, the same applied to me.

The realization of how unroyal I was shifted my view. Along with an onslaught of depressive feelings towards corcumstanced and situation, leading me to hate that which I knew. And the world of beauty and color with its amazing song became a place of contempt and mockery.

As the sky turned gray, within the darkness I hid myself. I allowed its shield to loom over me until it began to oppress me.

Hen on a warm August eve, inside the visiting room of the level 3 facility visiting yard, I was in attendance of a self heal group that was helping us prisoners creat praise and worship songs. Well after an intense session of opening the heart and the spirit of Jesus, it was time to go back to our buildings.

As I and the other group of inmates left eh visiting, something amazing happened. As I walked down the ramp, my feet did not touch the ground until I cross the ramps edge and came upon the concrete of the prison yard.

For the real miracle for me was in what I saw. How the green of foliage around me seemed so alive and the yellows resonated life vibrantly. I could feel them harmonizing with my flesh. And I began painting acrylic paintings to duplicate that essence.

I began to incorporate the color pink into my life because it made me feel human;, a piece of humanity. Becoming secure in the human I be.

Hopefully you can grasp the complexity of my aswer as to why I would say all colors are my favorites. Maybe my favorite is one not yet seen, the one the universe has yet to reveal, because its song is more than the universe can bear.

 

Lajont Hutchins, Solano State Prison

“Just For Today”

Through the eyes of a blackman
All I see is struggle, so much to
Overcome, failure is not an
Option. I was never taught hate,
Discrimination or racism! I
Inherited it from society’s lack
Of understanding. I come off
A little aggressive because I’ve
Had to overcome so much so
The aggression is just a form
Of my baggage that I carry,
Because of all life’s short comings.
Nd yet I still fon’t find
Hate in my heart towards any
Human being because of their race,
Religion, or lifestyle. I don’t
Trust much but I love all. So
I guess to sum up what I’m
Trying to say is it takes so
Much energy and effort to hate
While it takes almost nothing to
Smile or love so just for
Today tell someone how important
They are and that someone loves
Them or that they have all the
Potential in the world. Tell em
How beautiful they are. Just
For today let’s forget violence,
Hate, and dislikes or disagreements.
Let’s ebrace the sun’s beauty,
The wonderful whispers of the
Ocean and the green of the
Earth. Just for today let’s
Forget flaws and make someone
Smile. Just for today let’s
Love, love life, freedome and
Just the fact that we’re able
To breathe good air. Just for
Today!

There’s plenty other days to hate.

 

Balwinder Tung, Solano State Prison

“What Forgiveness Feels like”

Greatest blessing gotten or given out.
Greatest love achieved or granted.
Exceptional empathy received or shown.
Extra ordinary compassion attained or rewarded.
Best friendship experienced in receiving or giving.
Highest boon obtained or bestowed.
Highest bounty received or rewarded.
Superbest courtesy received or awarded.
Sublimest honor attained or granted.
Celestialest mercy achieved or granted.
Garland studded with valuable gems receive or granted…
And much much more.

 

Sam Kazzouh, San Quentin State Prison

“Landscape”

I was born a warrior.
I lived against the wind.
Now I’m an inmate looking through a window.
All I see is a flying eagle over watch towers.

“Mantra”

Mantra has sweet lips and golden ears.
Her tongue is flourished with honey
And her words are majestic for the holy.
Singing it is like praying with glory.

 

Raiveon “Ray Ray” Woodeon, San Quentin State Prison

“Mercy”

Mercy is a song that never ends.
Mercy is the person who forgive a person’s sins.
Mercy is a song that flows through the wind.
Mercy is a place where love is sent.

“Striving”

I’m from San Bernardino, CA
I’m from the Neighborhood that has no hope.
I’m from a family who sees the world from a different slope.
I’m from a school where teachers never took my notes.
I’m from a city where people think my skin color is jokes.
I’m from a planet where hatred, love, pain and misery soaks.
And where I’m going is where there are no ending roads.

“Covid19 Vs Ray Ray, part 2”

COVID-19: I’m sure you heard the news RayRay? The news how your whole family got covid hahaha. The best part is your dad is getting no better.

RAYRAY: Covid19, she’s so evil and powerful. I can’t beat her, she got the best of me. She got to my family, my mom, dad, sister, niece, and nephew. I couldn’t protect them. I am in here worthless to them, at least let me suffer with them. I try to call people to talk to, but no answer. Please pick up the phone.

God? Please don’t let my dad die, if he dies I lose myself. We all made a sacrifice, you made a sacrifice. No please don’t let my dad be that sacrifice.

I know that I am an inmate, a number, a criminal of crime that I did, my sins, now my family is paying for my sins. I know some of you out there maybe reading this and thing “serves you right.” You’re right, I deserve to die, but not my family. I’m telling you people that are out there reading this, to let you know, I am human, I’m not a number, I’m not a monster. I have feelings, I cry. I make mistakes and I have sympathy. If this is my last breath on this earth, I want to go out with a peaceful mind.

 

 

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