It’s 5:40 right now, and I can’t sleep. My head’s sort of all over the place. Melissa, Rik, and I went in for the last two days, and I’d have to say the trip was a success. Guitar Dan Lesperance went with us on this trip, too, but took a spill on that nasty Seward ice, and spent a good portion of our first day’s visit in the hospital getting x-rays. Too bad he couldn’t make it in with us, but his health is the most important thing. I truly hope he’s feeling better…
I came home to the news that John Olmsted passed away this morning. Melissa and I were very lucky to spend a little time with him on our visit to California, and it’s obvious that he’s going to be missed by folks in his community.
As a bit of an exercise to sort of treat these demons running around in my head, robbing me of sleep, I just sort of sat at my computer and wrote. Not in any form, or about any particular portion of this most recent experience, but just letting it flow, I guess.
Here’s the result….:
It’s been a stark few days.
Strength. It’s a perspective. And perspective shapes everything.
This trip into Spring Creek was a good one. At times, soothing, challenging, harsh, and real.
The more I try to explain my reasons for being there, the less I actually have any idea. I can’t really explain it. Is it for me? For them?
Am I just banking some good karma for later?
It’s a musical flashlight. I know it’s dark in there. And I know that flashing that light around is bound to reveal some wicked creatures, but amongst the black spiders there are children. Children without lights themselves. Scared and cold, with clueless dreams and tales as the main things to keep them warm.
I find myself having unorthodox conversations. About time.
See, perspective means that time is different to me than it is to you then it is to them. Of course, it’s precious. And it’s a wicked bitch when you’re just waiting for a moment. Sitting at that same table. Hands in the same place. More coffee in that stagnant mug. Dealing with the days. Biding your time.
See, my time is the same. Our clocks match up. Our calandars depict symetrical daily patterns, but he’s in a box. Waiting. Xbox and cards. Snoring and corndogs. Icky touches.
A horribly sqealing door to the gym. Cuts through the air, demanding that you take notice every time it’s used.
The beach is covered in snow, and the Alaskan tans will be paining before long.
The glacier is close, and hovering. The mountains couldn’t care any less. The trees up high are held fast to the most precarious edges, and althought the mountain is slanted, the trees all reach for the same direction. A tree’s only got one shot to plant it’s roots, and the hillside tree that gets too big is hurtling towards the inevitable tumble.
How many trees did he see? How many winds did he stop to hear? To feel…
Man. That sun and that water. That touched daughter. That cycle.
The amount of obvious mental deficiency is staggering. Dangerous? Sure, but you’re fooling yourself if you think that they’re the only ones that can hurt you. And after all, why would they?
I talked with a man about walking with murderers. Told him I’d punched in the face. Does that make me a puncher? Does that mean I’m bound to punch again. Should all who come near me shrink in fear and be ready to parry my inevitable blow?
Sure. Like that will help…
It’s only a few gates, and a very nice lady at the front desk. We saw some Johovah’s Witness affiliated men go in, too. I’d like to think that what they do and what we do are different, but when you break it down, we’re sort of after the exact same thing.
But I don’t preach too much. I strive for short, poignent remarks. And realness. I’ve been thinking of Spoon, and thank him for my new perspective on an old notion. My biggest gift is my presence, and my willingness to be REAL.
My guitar’s just a flashlight in a dark place.
The politics are more evident. He boycotted our visit to teach the warden a lesson. To show that he was unhappy with his lack of input. He was not missed, and the only one that recieved punishment. He was left behind, but by his own choice. The warden’s heart wasn’t broken.
I guess the greater the confines, the more important the lines and borders we create and cling to. A man’s got to hold on to something, right?
It’s a tough place for leaders. Most don’t want to draw too much attention to themselves. But they do look good with their sunglasses dangling, and their fashion accessories MP3s.
See, I can talk about trick niggas, hash dealas, bitches and hos on my dick, ice dripping off my collar, feel me right, don’t sweat the light, too.
But I choose not to.
I strive for the find of what needs to come out of me. I’ll package it later, pack the elevator with boses and stands on a cart that says in worn out stencil…. “education.”
You need to be a part of “education” to have access to the computer, or the teacher, or the visiting music group. You’ve got to get patted down when you leave the library. You can’t own a CD, and the guards don’t know how to use the metal detector.
The notion of a jolly warden doesn’t sit well with the “I’ve seen Shawshank” crowd, but it sits well with me. As Big Mike would say, “he’s PRO-HUMAN BEING.” That sums it up well. His job is largely budgetary, and holding that invisible line.
Prison is punishment incarnate. Whatever you want gets dangled in front of you daily. Wealth? Please. Fairness? please.
Did you know that they can only order things from one catalog. Monopolies are bad. This one is the worst. They do have jobs, sweeping the gym, washing the forks, doing all the dirty work for next to nothing, and a 10 dollar pair of shoes costs 150 in shipping. No joke. Short and curlies, and they make riches off of perfecting the squeeze.
But these guys ain’t saints. They’ve got the right to make bad decisions, and I have yet to meet an incarcerated mourner. It’s amazing what a man can put up with when he’s got no other choice.
Watchtower. We watch YOU!!!
There was one woman that didn’t have a smiley heart. She goes out and smokes a lot. She must, or we just happened to catch her out there 4 of the 6 times we were at the front door. Didn’t mind scolding us for a photo, even though that’s not what she’s there for.
I don’t tell people how to clap at my shows. Not my concern…
19 days now. I’ve spent portions of 19 entirely different days of my charmed life spending time with inmates. I’m still eager to do more, but am starting to realize my limits. I’m not interested in these guys coming to stay on my couch based on a relationship developed in such a strange reality.
Dude’s got to find their own flashlight, but I’m starting to understand, for real this time, that some of them won’t ever get it together, and there has to be an alternative.
It’s also obvious to me that one day, one of these fellows will be at a show, and I’ll get to introduce him to my friends, and my life outside of the prison work. I’m anxious about that. Wanting to keep the flame lit, but to myself. I’m actually ashamed of my nature to protect myself and forgo the unconditional love.
I’m not as open as it might appear, but again, that’s perspective. To some, maybe I’ve done enough, but it’s my deficiencies that are defining to me now.
Here, presently 4:51 in the morning, and agian, I can’t sleep.
This is MY therapy. My unwinding. My hope looking for what to call itself. My displayed cliche. My non-prison issue shoes, that started leaking yesterday. I’ll shed them, probably send them under the Earth, to slowly rot with other consumer discards. And my new shoe will someday be old.
I find myself wondering what type of prisoner I’d be. Which corner I’d have sat in today, which little click or group I’d be drawn to, or which ravens would come to perch on my shoulder. How would I speak? And who to? I heard the word Nigger so many times these last two days it actually lost some of it’s weight with me. I hate the word, but that which you face daily becomes routine, and hate, by nature, can not be routine. That’s something different. Just a line in the sand.
Would I be a leader? A quiet man just doing my time? Would I reflect on my decisions, or play Xbox for hours every day? I wonder how much they have to give to have that privelidge.
Craig told us that it was a tense time for a while, because Ad Seg was at capacity, and a full hole means no hole for the newly poor mannered. If the threat of punitive measures is no threat at all, chaos creeps into the idle minds, and the testings of the system increase.
but the system is the house, can change the rules, and will keep it’s dominance. So now, there are two holes, and the punishments are as regular as they need be. Again.
I’d probably elect to do the drugs, if they’d let me. I’m weak that way. I’d get to some ridiculous high levels of tetris, and brag to my celly as if it was an actual accomplishment, which maybe it is…
I’d try not to fight. I’d strive for friendship. I’d dream of every visitation. I’d try to learn to paint, and I’d relish my one hour a week that I’m allowed to hold a guitar, in that classroom, with other players, who I probably would not want to jam with, and who I’d try to drown out. I’d be reluctant, and maybe give it up all together, because time apart makes the time together so much MORE, and I’d be striving for less, as my mechanism. It elect to be as numb as I could be…
I wouldn’t take up Jesus. I’d be a Jesus. Those a Jehovah’s are good for some, so I’ll respect them, but their truth seems SO misguided to me. So unreal. Faker than fake.
If it were true all the time, then why do “christians” hate so much, and so hard? Why would they care about others’ beliefs? What’s it to them?
I’ll tell you. It’s safety in numbers, and the more folks that buy into your horseshit, the easier it is for you to buy. That many people can’t be wrong, right?
Universal truth isn’t true universally.
I love the holy that truly preach love and tolerance, but the supposedly holy that find relief of their sexual frustration in little boys, layered up with an endless stream of the same sad story, the THOUSANDS of abused covered up for the good of the church. It’s NOT holy. It’s wicked, and even worse because it’s in your face, dishonest. This man gets to absolve ME? Please.
fuck the church. The truly kind hearted exist within and without. The book is just a guide, it’s not a ticket.
So no. I wouldn’t go to chapel to pray, but I would go to sit with myself and be quiet. to be with other men that are there to be with themselves, quiet.
You’d have to take advantage of the random sanctuary. Marty’s hat. Spoons mama goose. A folder of words. Actually letting politics roll off my back. A new….
So I still don’t know, I guess. The most honest answer I can give when asked why I do it is: because I can. I can. I can be a light. I can share my time, and my presence. I can be real. I can play a little music, and remind the men that they’re men. I offer to help, not by doing anything, but by caring enough to try.
A lot of these guys will be getting out, and spilling back into my society. I want them to be accountable, and to man up. Decide to stay out of prison, and follow through.
I want society to take an honest look at what they think of the system. Not the Shawshank system, and not the MSNBC locked up, but to look into the heart of a man that has to revisit his crime daily, and look other criminals in the face, daily.
the mountains are so striking. Actually unbelievable, but the mods are equally harsh and still. The contrast actually seems to take on a mocking form. It laughs at us. At them.
The fact that such a huge portion of the population has an intimate knowledge of the system, contrasting with the huge portion of the population that has no fucking idea. Not because they don’t know, but they don’t bother to wonder.Their mind is made up, without any trial.
That’s the other part of what we do. We speak to society on the prisoner’s behalf. Our lives are voluntarily related to prison. That gives us a bit of credibility. We offer our ideas to our peers. Our experience. Our drained and tired ramblings.
We offer to the men…