A Stronger Desire to Live
This is not manual. You know for twenty five years. I felt like I had no role in society. Voice. I was surrounded by incredible people incredible artists. and. We all felt. As though, we would never have the opportunity to be heard. That's why I'm so glad to be a part of this project. So glad that Pin America has made it their mission to share the voices of the voiceless and to ensure that message is heard. This is a wonderful opportunity and I'm very grateful for it. I'm very grateful that I could add whatever I could to make this a success to touch you to offer something that will resonate. With you and with yours and with those people who are still feeling as though they had no voice. Watched pods they narrow. Boil Bay. Toyland spin the wonder when they. MARCI again to by two. Reading on what they do because this high prices deep knows. By need. Fish. So cray. Soul Kinky. To Maros dying your sleep. On the cow. Counting days do the day that you're on your way out on this jury. On the grade on your feet on your knees on your mind all the time on the cloud. Green acres. Of Green. Shakes in the shape dreaming of Home Long-forgotten. Eber was known holding tied to. The nothing you own relatively speaking slow go fast gone. Women Nissen known decisions of lives stone. Bobby that you'll always deep in sand, and as you drown the years you hear the sweeper hands-on the class. All the cow. Counting Days Do. That you're on. The stree-. On the grass. On, your, Pedo you need. The time. Counting. To? The Street on the. On your feet on your knees on your mind time. Burst. Gearing leader as it draws to in in. Just slips away because it's nobody's friend. In the good and curls in the bed. So much of it when it's all that you have class. Counting a dude. That, you're on your way out on the street A. Gray. On your. Knees on your mind all the time. Counting days to. Your. Dog on the street on the grass. On your feed on your knees on your mind, ain't. Time on? A. Jones reading. Flex top Cherry. Formerly cost. Twenty three years on the inside. And I am also an alumni of rehabilitation through the arts are Ta we? My acting career began that painful pass as white me delighted to meet redes- piece. So without further, ADO flattop for Cherry Hill by Paul Bets. To me, was patient while I covered him from the neck down with the sheet. As I began to slowly tremors, mangy mattered hair. Jimmy stated I. Guess they're going to win. When what I asked, he began to talk about his last appeal. Everyone in prison has an issue on appeal without one. You have lawshall. Jimmy's hope was gone. Life means life in Michigan. Only I cheated them. I'm going to die young. He laughed. One somewhat at a loss when confronted with an aspect of reality that we want to now choose to ignore. We generally look away from debt dog along the side of the ball. The privately angered that we had to see death it all. All like anonymous death. Jimmy had about two weeks left in was anything but anonymous. He seemed reconciled to his personal club. I asked if his family had been to see him. It was then. About Cherry Hill. Somewhere near the state prison of southern Michigan, the largest walled prison in the world. Is a mound of earth? Blanket buried for decades on this mound. The truly forgotten. Not only has the tide turned its back on these people, but the families have gotten. Some were men who outlived the families and friends. Some who's heinous acts have separated completely from society. In some so pork families had no alternatives. Jimmy told me these people would soon be friends and neighbors. I was cutting. His hair slowly was not used to touching the living dead. Jimmy smiled. He could tell the story troubled. He asked if I could do him a favor. He wanted flattop haircut when he was young. Before he had real problems, he had a lot of friends. They all had flat tops. It made them feel cool. He was like to be cooled again. I had never given a flat top crew is not all that good? Bob But I said I would try. There was much trial and error and eventually a fairly decent flattop. A took the handheld mirror and showed him the results of my efforts. Man Those guys in Cherry Hill new. Be Real envious. He said he did look good. It was mostly as smile. All the nurses made about Al handsome he wants. It was a certain comradeship that had developed among those of similar faith in the Koran Keagan. Young goodhearted male nurse course Jimmy up and down the hall to stop and talk for a few seconds with bedridden long-term He had gotten to know. Comments. Go Jimmy. They can't be you and lucky. There aren't women on Cherry. Hill they show would be in. Trouble echoed as flat top Jimmy was wheeled down to his room. Put a bed and locked in. Is Dying Memories A. More of the Times of his. You've when he has friends with flat tops and hope. Along side of Bramham movable hat on Cherry Hill lies flat, top Jimmy with his friends forever. This is Casey Gerald. Reading note for if I fade away. Brown out owed three. By Justin Romeo's Monson. This is to remind you that I loved you way back. You. With your sleepless rivers in strings of power lines titans gathered into formations of tender, flesh and luminous pleasures you. Are always moving. Longing we say because desires full of endless distances. An apartment building. Two boys different shades of Brown. San Above acting his father. Prayers to Fisk. Archiving Brown boy with good hair choked by the parentheses of his show deuce broken horse. Pleased on mistake these notes for allergies. These are the breaks. The summer where I learned hunger and absence of pain. Bridgewater that Slag Heap Hoop Morgan and are oak ridden suburbs. Glimmers of future lives Sash Chaba Dixie may be loose change for seventy five cent Kony's. The big home is pushing bags behind the Skate Park. All the white paint peeling off the dividing wall. The chain link fence we tour back between our crack pavement in the fairway. The brown out that melted five days. How dipped my feather-light body in the toilet to keep cold? The water searching me like so many soft lights. The general man was hollow back then, and I did as I do now sketched your patterns into the margins of my ribs. This was before. Meet me at the corner, wash or your turn to go to. The marathon became slang for the lies we believed before the three am streetlights. The palms crowded with Earth tones before I learned logic, and before we should've read hamlet lowered. We know who we are yet. We know not what we may be. Well learn to be in the middle of bright islands and down bags. Those whispered field trees. Pavement begging to kiss my knees. Writing is essential to change. When it comes to social justice, I've always said. Litigation legislation in protest are required to make change in this country. But one thing that's unstated in that is the need for the artist. and. There's always been a need social change for the artist for the writer, the playwright for the sculptor for the poet. The dancer, all those creative outlets are necessary, and I'm concerned because I really don't see the artist's role in this the way it should be in I. Hope is rising up. I remember playing music by by Wynton. Marsalis and after his father died, and you can feel the emotion in the music. We need to have a musicians. We need to have those people who can speak to the soul and spirit in hard of what we're going through, and I'm hoping that we have a national or international memorial. That that gives us a chance to grieve cry to have our our motions expressed, and that's what the artists brings to the table as we go through social change, we've got to have the artists there, and that's every realm of art in I. Look Forward to seeing how this plays out. If I as artists hold on suggests. George slowly in thinks seriously out. Everything. That's implicated all happened. I think. A Lotta stuff gets revealed, but why Brianna Taylor. Doesn't come up in a way that she. Should. You think about why we would have a lot of these same conversations when Freddie Gray Michael Brown Gardner. Why we have the same conversations. The truth is equal Brennan names down. In the names for me a marcus for the weight. Data can state balanced. Carey's they out, Marcus for like dwayne. Do you fear, but likely Assad not. That's not what's happening. Faith for the. Sanctity. Democracy you don't mean. For, the ability for us to go on as a nation because we haven't been able to figure out some fundamental thing, that should be true. Which is? You should not be murdered. Don't an arrest. Period. He should definitely not be mertens joining arrest. It you should never be locked up and I it's. Interesting, because I don't I, don't really know how art speaks to any exhibiting. For me, argues the Dana like really really really. Forces near slow at our down ARSE. Reading Saturn rising. By Larson's. Artists second day. One hundred twenty days. For, making Gail threats tool circles. It was moved to to way one of the typical dislocations of the Koran return to. And like Shah. Squatting on discarded Plastic Buckets Ryan from the docks. Hunkered down over knows hand and constructed artists astrological charts. Noble shipping instant coffee between streams chatter. At a floppy cameras, weighty tone spread over his name's. Did birth seven of Ember Nineteen ninety-two. Eighteen hundred three hours. Sunshine. concentric circles and triangles to form in the yellow light of the desk all. After three nights of work, Nova, put the pencil down and proclaimed. WHO has confidence? Next visited the whole three months. It's not an action. As a hole in the ground. Now, oh? With could be solid as a shelter were close by. Many considered convicts animals. Burrowing tunnels. Graze all. It allows the body to decompose in darkness of south. A hole is also true. Something, you stumbled. Can't. Body orifice. Tual function is often refer a whole. Mouse. Pushy. National. Or medically we call to mind REFU. She was holistic purpose sexual. A retreat were prisoner rotates. Becomes! Many think of being in the hall as being in debt in for an inmate's dozen tail. Because you lose your good chime in your work runs in your job in your status recurring test. You kept artists in low spoon jobs when we make up the difference. NERVA. Already on the cosmic. Think seventh as a black hole which there is no skiing while he prefers to put more emphasis on the event, Tyrrell's. With point to no return. The moments leading up to cross. Artists ran away from home which chew. Didn't will you were on away? That's what you WANNA. Call hiding in the barn typical. Recall into narrow deutz use. An empty horse. North Wall Mexican, food. Is Foster. Parents no longer kept horses. There was nothing in the bond except driving a store implements retracting. An old truck and she. And White you snuck into the house after his foster parents since asleep, we get something to eat. To whole gays in sprint in the cramped. Moldy, small Bill will kind of true. Never Long. Images. In the kitchen table we'll discussing we think about the scars INS choose from cigarette goes is rumored ones given. That was very clear concerning. The policeman in sadder. chillier nature of his Twelfth House in its worship to is full. Can Long periods of isolation. Explaining the wise still left US warmer. Wow. Once she. Artists went to the library with Supernova and pour it over coffee table books on the cosmos, color photographs of Mars and seven. Planets Nova claimed were giving him all his. Nobody was inclined to look for influence from the outward to in. Artists License? Each ours charts out on the table and used a pencil indicate the more efficient positions. Saturn on the ascended in opposition to the sun, several house, ours precisely into two square to both and Hoodoo. Artist himself as Richie Award. She will be imagined nation. Over overhead red hair, green els. toenails black is forbids. With by. In the fire sign of meal, metabolism runs. I and you will switch these. Profusely. Nova Sam was Taurus. He was. A builder of houses a foundation. Was a woman man's bonding. The way he put each day was a simple. It. Each month each year. Decade each, lifetime. And were natal charts. Through. Trick named find will pulse. Only down in the secluded shower. An isolated era area coal-based tall. Array of showers sanction wooden benches. Or offices in breath mall. St- and Brew Me Tess Girls Still Waiting. Move on US while recline Kohl's to our. Children live in a house trade a mile away expression when? Dirt area for one which are very spy and large oak with ropes rings. Start from lower grandch-. Ernst Park bargain pushed teaching. Warren girl. Earned swing. Artists was to hand each garment to an officer as he removed. Officer would then examine the garment and Tuskegee flow. Dr Cokely's late afternoon. The voices were near Berating off the walls like. ECCLES hill light above through cloudy Windy showers. June told in, they were cousins. He took the leading remote in Lal Ventures. Each successive. Tell me were able to see his across. Our. Focus on a rust colored waterson corners stall a raw shock, beetle-shaped facto stretching from the ceiling to a point above the mock. He lived in the field into the barn and suggested they play a game. Stand up on the work. And remove their clothes. He received each garment from them as they removed. Plainclothes clothes droopy facial mouth slightly open on time. Initially mistook the burn scars for to. The officers made a catalogue. HIS TATTOOS! Children's bounced sign. ME. Stepped back. And extended his hands. Find the energy. Levels were very. Fluid curving abstract lines and circles composed black ink and bare skin. Connect a highway interchange, rebrith, golf, or lay, straight or twirl into spirals. Artists step forward and placed his. Flat against their genitals. Left hand on the gory. Is Right on the earth. Energy ranch whose arms shot up and down his I. Batch splash on the work. That's beside. Children's stared straight ahead the whole time. And didn't. Chat! twos are all the peace. Connect, everywhere some other. They are images Zuberi words that will devour his clips once he's Tan. A warm summer night dark rain clouds. Strings of bare bulbs, larger lights, circle the tent, the packed columns of the congregation swaying. As. The. Sheet. Lighten scribbled crossed clamps. We Owe Gospel songs well into its course. The congregation on their feet, clapping, following the pastors lead on stage. Paste round pumping his arms. Microphone, court, Singing, lead and shouting. A. Discount Rainstorms sideswipe. Cool breeze, flaps, chant. Pastor headed down the aisle, learning hands on foreheads pronouncing mighty benedict. As the flux swayed and fell backward on the Sun Ass Artists Sandwich between his parents transfixed. Awesome force being leashed. As, you got closer. Mountains being given to the man's reaching grass. Reddish blue energy sparkle on the ends of upstretched fingers reaching. Are never the same. Honest was released for Martinsville. This'll office gave him the job. Park River Son picking up trash. He was too old, Hustle. Jays were long, but there was no rush. Nolan bother him. Yet time to bring the old heads squatting under the plank boards by the bird, Gobi assemblage, a cup of coffee. Spend a lot of time walking along the river. Pretending to. Is Favored. was, to. Hide in, storage. Where we kept along. It was a separate room in the shed. The size of jails. Scars Burn. Would lock himself in. SIP on the concrete floor. Knowing bothered him. Bar. In the darkness beyond the light. Stars and constellations turned like a carousel wherever. On each day the past. Feel shattered wise. Music. Hello! My name is Nicole Xuan Junior, and I'd like to thank pin America's prison, Writing Justice Program and works of Justice podcast for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this beautiful offering. As a woman writer in Felon, I am grateful to give voice to the literary art created by another woman writer who happens to be incarcerated. I am honored to read this poem about women like the ones who raised me. Women like the ones I love most. I! Hope that I give this piece the honor it deserves. Okay, but that said again. This isn't a whole Xuan junior reading prison eulogies by Yvette M. Lewis Sell. The ones who died never mattered much except in here with stories never end because they're to real. Michelle who her girl until she got out and got her own self killed. Stella, who laugh and laughed until that last hit hit her vain. Water thought a tooth would make him bleed to death with that pats. Heart was really that bad. They! Don't make announcements here, but we always know and every time. I can't kneel down for months after my mouth will move the way it should. Is Not me. Never me. Is Always. My name is Louis. J Brown Marshall. My voice this project because we need to end mass incarceration. Whether it's a play or pawn, a speech, a sermon a book. Whether or not we put our voices in protest on the streets or in social media. We need to do everything we can to shed light on this mass incarceration of individuals tearing apart families in communities. I am a playwright civil rights attorney? I M accustomed log professor in an offer. Every platform fine which I can give my voice to ending massive frustration. I will do so I think it's important for all of us. Do what we can to stop this beast. It's time. Be Laid to rest. Mass incarceration. Must. Paloma newest Chanel Gabriel I'm a poet singer and a health advocate from New York City Brooklyn and it meant a lot to me to be a part of this project one because it was a lot of fun to do, but also mainly because it allowed me to be part of the process of uplifting. The voices of people that allowed get looked the creativity that exists and. Believe that all people have stories to tell stories create. And that that can help them do any space that they're in and no matter their circumstances, their voices art deserves to be heard. Hi My name is Josie Whittlesey. I contributed to this pen. Project because I believe wholeheartedly in the. Benefits of which programs and Having an opportunity for people who are incarcerated to express themselves anytime that I can lend a hand in helping that expression on be more fully realized I'm going to do it. By a short play by Sterling, Thomas. Characters. A early Thirties African American in year ten of a forty five year drug conspiracy sentence drives to live by her own moral code at doesn't trust the system. Kayla mid twenties, Caucasian a recovering drug addict, serving a four month sentence for trafficking illegals naive to the prison. Always sees the good in people and searching for a friend. The guard man late forties, indifferent to the system works for the prison because he couldn't get a job anywhere else and only there to collect a check. said a two man prison oversell during the time of mass incarceration in America. Prologue. Sometime, in the millennial. The lights come up as kyw's his quietly in the cell reading over her legal paperwork, plumbing and wrapping to beat inside her head. kyw Is a stunning woman, was become a hardened prisoner and believes the system is meant to keep all black people captive. She's been handed down a short thirty five year sentence for conspiracy to sail crack cocaine. Her family has deserted her, and she has no one but herself. KYW has been waiting for the United States marshals to pick her up for two months. KYW has made the sell her home in hopes, things will come and pick her up any day to take her to her designated prison. Her hair is pretty fast, and she wears her prison attire. Extra bagging. Her diction is Chris and she is educated. Act One. They say history repeats itself I stayed with sleighs Ben with slaves. Now they just rearranged on the shelf I was birthed into a system designed to fail while the find success. Only time will tell I remember. When I was a young girl, right led us to my mom and dad in jail. You back then that I was up next to sell. A repetitious cycle from generation to generation I guess it's to be expected when you black and living in the most incarcerated nations. A loud buzzing sound. The Guard in Kayla Enter and stand at the front of the cell. Open Cell Eleven Kayla, a frail woman with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Dan's at the door, holding her bed, caught and jailed clothes in her hand. Kai doesn't turn around and Look de keeps nodding your head to her own beat, a loud, buzzing sound and the cell door closes. Looks around disturbed by her atmosphere. I'm, Kayla. Here. I don't care who you are. Don't bother me. I won't bother you. Stay on your side and I'll stay on my side and we won't have no problems. That's your side right there. Make sure your bed is inspection ready by seven am. What does inspection ready me? They'll tell you. This is your first time being locked up ham? What I always want to give me the new one look. I'm not a friend I. don't care about your problems in a damn show. Don't care to get to know you I'm not sure babysitter your prison, mom, cousin or sister understand I'm GonNa tell you these rules one. One time one time only you don't get it. That's on you. Breakfast is at six lunches at nine and dinner at three. We count three times a day. They set up rules, and then they wanNA follow them themselves I. Don't talk to the police so if you do, you might as well get asked the move right now because I don't tolerate switches understand. That day is on Wednesday if you get money and don't expect me to give you anything yonder did nothing for us, but take from people, so don't expect no handouts either. Oh Hell. We go have no, no, no, no. You crying, there ain't no crime in the Cell Dryden. Right now. God Guy. Why can't I would just get someone who can do time? It's hard for me. And you don't think it's hard for me got saying that. To. Get through this. We from my family and friends and my daughter. She needs me. It's my fault. Stop Crying Stop Crying Stop Crying Much time you got. Four months. Four months. I got four months. Trafficking illegals across the border. I don't even know why I did it. I need the money and it seemed like a good opportunity at the time. It's a little extra cash in my pocket to pay my bills and my daughter's school close. I'm here just because I need a little extra money. We all in here for just a little extra money. The kingpin SNITCH and they get less time. They rat on the little people in the prosecutor shows favor What am I supposed to say what I don't know nothing? He didn't tell me nothing. What am I supposed to say? Makeup names? Makeup lives like he did frame my. My own people just a take the heat off of me. He's already home now. Living his life in his happy little house and I'm here left to rot away by a capitalistic system that throws my people in the death chamber. Every time they get the chance with conspiracy. They are the conspiracy. They don't know everything they are not God. They tried to play God, but they are not. The crack laws were made to oppress us to hold down at throw a under the jail cell. They fled the black community with crack than sentence one hundred to one versus cocaine. That's because cocaine is the white man's drug. We can't afford it. It's too expensive, and then they're mad because I went to trial. Isn't that crazy? I get punished for my constitutional right for them to actually do their job and be the burden of proof I get punished. Signing no deal for something I didn't do nope no I'm GONNA do my time? I'M A- do. Lock my body, but they can't came to my mind I'm still free desks. You're locked up and you can't be free. I'm still free. I tried crack once. I didn't like it. Heroin was my drug of choice made me forget about all the bad things happened in my life. Home. Even they're trying to change. The laws now is because it's affecting the white people that is a hell of a drought, and it's everywhere all through the trailer parks in suburbs. That's the only reason they care now because it's their children getting hit with five and ten bits. Oh, now it's the problems now. It's an American epidemic. How much time did they give you? Forty five years. The guard interest in walked by the cell. Lights out. You. Inmates can talk tomorrow. The lights fade out on the sale. Kayla Kai. Lay Down in their bids in silence. Payload begins to cry again. At to. The lights come up on the cell Kayla is sitting in the bed with her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth staring off into space. her-heroin was raw has kept her up all night. Is Eating. Food off of a trae Taylor trade is sitting untouched on the small table. I looked over at Kayla and shakes her head and continues to eat. You're not gonNA eat that. Hungry. You going to have to eat something five on yourself is GonNa get you put in, say. What say Record Gatien? The Shoe Special Housing Unit where they put the crazies in this niches. I'm not crazy and I'm not a SNITCH. On just not hungry. Why are you shaking asleep? Last night almost punched. Do Athletes Somebody within here last night? The way will flopping around like efficient screaming like you had a demon in you. What's wrong with you? The medicine I take me bad nightmares on I'm still withdrawing from heroin. Why do you all do that? Do what that poisoning of Ati I don't understand. If a drug makes you sick, just come off it. What's the point? Don't you? Do Drugs make you feel better not worse? You never did drugs before. No and I never plan on it. Would you were here for drugs right? No, I'm here for conspiracy to sell crack cocaine, and because I wouldn't snitch out my boyfriend's family conspiracy the easiest thing for the feds to get you on because they don't have to prove anything all they gotta do. Get One person and informed or Snitch to say they saw you sell drugs or heard from somebody that you sold them drugs and they can convict. I never touched crack a day in my life. I was scared of it. Daddy was addicted my whole life and what he did to get a never wanted to be him, but growing up where acting from selling dope is the normal way of life is like selling tires and people always the tires. I knew my boyfriend's sold. It didn't think it would affect me. I didn't think I would come to prison for him. Selling Drugs I was in school I wanted better at out of the hood out of the life. But how was I supposed to do that without money to pay for my books or to keep a hoof over my head? It's an oxymoron to be black and try to live the American. Life Out of school educated then you'll get a better to have a better life. You can move into the neighborhood with the police. Don't roam the streets harass and everybody a place where you don't get killed for just walking home from the bus. Stop from a dude up the street or a racist pig cop mad because his daughter likes blackboards. Tried to do right. The opposite of what I witnessed everyday tried to be different and I still ended up in prison. Still fell victim to the game the system. We didn't have money either show why it's different. It's better to be a poor white, poor black in today's society, the system designed for us to fail. I don't know how I'm. GonNa, make it. It's so hard. I can't do this. Come on here. We go again with the tears those to stop the judge from sentenced to prison, you go home and less than one hundred twenty days. How can you cry about that? I would sleep one hundred twenty days a hundred and twenty Dave and a wake-up. But you don't understand. Don't have that kind of time I don't understand. You can see light at the end of the tunnel the light. It's right there for you. If I don't get an appeal or law passes, I will die in this place. And you WanNa talk about time you stand in the courtroom here a judge. Tell you forty five years for something you did it, do he? Says will stay your black and your life. Does it matter so do this town and make the best of another black person off the street. One less crack baby gotta worry about on the streets. Robin, all the good white ladies The prosecutive! That's harmony. The judge all of them in. An academic done railroading you upstate Horta the feds. They all go and have lunch and discuss their menial labs over cocktail inexpensive country club. Not every white person is racist. I'm not racist. I got black friends Mexicans. You're missing the point. I know that everyone is not racist. I'm not racist. I love all people. This country is racist. A systemic oppressive device console the manipulate the minds of its inhabitants. They flash the lifestyles of the rich and famous on TV. Given US false hope that one day we can all be rich, but not if you live in the hood, the only way to get money in the hood is the sell drugs, but in the white school they get the best of everything that make you want to go to school and learn they make the atmosphere conducive to learning. It's deeper than you can imagine. Kayla think. Have you ever asked yourself watch how molesters get less time than drug dealer? Or why they are more minorities in prison, we account for less of the population in America. Oh, I guess not. That's because you never had to. have been in a cell with the woman who let random NC naked photos of our two year old daughter. Do you know how much time she got seven years seven damn years? Don't do five. Get out and live her life while daughter is left to fend for herself in the system. That doesn't give a damn about her. Never looked at it that way. I would never do that to my daughter. I hate people who touch on innocent kids. You can't blame drugs for that. That's just wrong. You cry about four months. You'll be home. Which is daughter doing whatever you want? I'm stuck here. A sleigh to the system, a slaves, a new slave masters degree, working for free living in a cell eating slops, just hoping that one day I'll get some constant survive. My mom used to always say let him have wisdom understand, but they don't understand. They'll never understand how it feels to try and do everything right. The way they want and still end up in a cage. I'm not GonNa, let this time blakely. Matter what I'll do my time how I want to do my time. Okay at the medicine. A, Rich Ryan to get the one I got on the outside, but they told me they don't. Carry that you're so they gave me. The one I would like it. I guess it's okay. I'll just have to do with it. Lord. She has some help. She's coming up blood. It's officer to you me and my job description put a cop out in a medical. She looks fine to me. Tell me, what is your job description not to be wiping up blood, but guard exit. God. I don't know if I can do this. I'm ready to go home. Sorry I don't mean to rub it in your face. Yeah, good the guardless lanes to they don't know it slaves to the system that controlled their livelihood. Every day waking up to counting down the days until they retired. What kind of life is that? Meaningless one with no identity. Maybe his wife left him. I would look at him on. mean an angry. Do you know why they call inmates? Because we are prisoners in prison. No, because we're in an insane asylum, the sidey labels US mentally deranged with social intelligence issues. If we can't follow their man made law. Something must be wrong with US mentally to veer off from the path. That society is laid out service. Huckle to America where there no prisoners prisons, the prisons are called Correctional, institution or reform camps that resemble more like concentration camps. Identity stuff from US label convicts given a new name and Brandon with the number. It's all a part of the game. Try to brainwash. It's a money game to the more image they get the fat of their pockets grow. It's a cooperation, will we? The humans are the stock. The three facts inmates one the one who takes this place as reforming them, but comes friends with the authority. The ones who are oppressing them. To the one who manipulate the system in acts like they want them to act in order to gain rank or position in the prison. And three, the one who completely goes against everything the establishment sands for and gets punished severely for it. Three? And they'll. These prisons are not for reform. They don't WanNa. Help us. They WANNA. Make money off of incubus in bondage. I'm a political prisoner here because I won't conform to what they want me to be. What are you Kayla? What kind of inmate are you? The lights fade out as Kayla. Ponders on questions. Act Three. The lights come up on high in the cell. KAYLA's bunk is empty. kyw wakes up and looks over at the empty bunk. KYW stands up and looks around. KAYLA's uneaten trait is sitting on the desk. kyw takes a bite of the bread. The guard enters. Inmate roll up bed. Whereas, Kayla what happened to Kayla. The one that was here. Oh! She died last night. How. How does he Donnie? I duNno, they said cancer or something like that now roll up this bed. I got another Ma coming. The guard exit. KYW's stench. They're contemplating. Looking up to the sky. A ticking clock is heard. As, the lights fade out on sale eleven. You can get used to anything. To? A. Dreams Dreams. That this. Soon. I. Think twice. This. Is pleased with nuts so wrong long forgotten. Being re. Leave. No. Way, they. Do Grow. A. To any A. Box cures be enough for. A DREAM THAT KANE A. Strong enough. Do Get. Right! To step the. To. God has made. To. Hi My name is Amanda Miller and I'm going to be reading the little prisoner by Robert Town. To fictional piece about a woman, giving birth in prison. And I think it's a topic that could use a lot more attention, so it's my honor to be able to read it for you. Thank you for listening. Okay the little prisoner by Robert mccown. I was one of the luckiest prisoners ever because I donate months in prison, and remember a single second of it. I was spared the hardship in grief most often prison. May sound crazy, but time meant nothing to me. I hadn't been introduced to it yet. Because time doesn't exist in the womb. Yes I was baby number two, zero, nine, three, four four dash zero to seven. I was born in prison. Having been born in prison isn't as bad as it sounds. It's not like. My mother was lying on a steel bunk in a dank cell covered with a standard issued itchy, green, waterproof army blankets, or it's not like correctional officers were standing around with rubber gloves strapped to their elbows, waiting to shake me down for contraband. God forbid bring anything into this world I shouldn't have. Technically I was delivered in a hospital. But my mother was still a prisoner. Being in a hospital didn't relieve her of her oppressors. She had no control. No rights had died during delivery or days after she wouldn't have been able to attend my funeral. This is her story. March, twenty third. Dear Diary I hope you don't mind my calling you diary when you're only a pad of paper, but I've never written to a diary before or Pat of paper and diarrhea sounds more official. It was my counselors idea. I wasn't going to take her advice because she sincerely doesn't care, but when she offered me a free notebook to use, it was enough of an incentive. Earlier my bunk, he said I wish I was pregnant why I said thinking if she says so, she can get a free notebook. I'm slapping her. So I can get a bottom bunk restriction. I did feel like slapping her but I. let it be. I have not only myself to look after now. She's a Ho anyway. She's playing girl and Alpha Unit and one in Echo Unit, and when one finds out about the other, she'll get hers. I'm new at this prison. Stuff have only been here a few weeks, but I've got the basics figured out. Mind your own business and avoid getting sucked into other people's drama, because most of these women are walking tornadoes destroying everything in their paths, leaving behind a trail of broken homes and injured people. My goal is not to become another one of their casualties. Prison is like the board game. Sorry, it's all about making it home without getting bumped off. And I've got two pieces to get home now. I called him today, and after that whole spiel about not getting an abortion, he's changed his mind and wants nothing to do with the baby. I asked him why. He doesn't have a valid reason. Sometimes I question his humanity. I'm not going to stress over it. It'll be his loss. I can't force him to stay. I, saw the prison ob doctor today he saw no reason to remove me from general population, and said Aydin need any prenatal vitamins. Was My first slap in the face with reality. I'm bringing a child into this world from President. I'm doing it alone. May Twelfth. Dear Baby. I'm not calling you diary anymore. It's not as personal. It's like talking to a ball or my punky. Swim calling you baby. I can sense you now inhabiting me. Borrowing from me. What nutrients are available Zapping my energy? It's okay though I wish I could give you more, but I can only give what I have. I'm showing some, but if you didn't know better, you just assume I put on weight from the starchy carb loaded prison diet. I spoke with my unit team today, because my due date is long before my outdate, foster care was the topic of the day. Don't want to deliver you into the hands of the stranger. I'm sure the state would select a wonderful couple. Good people, the type of good people who won't want to hand over the adorable baby. They've nurtured all those months to a stranger. An ex con. I wouldn't blame them. It's a two sided coin. You never dream of this type of situation. Until you're in it, who would think that anywhere? In the world especially America, it would be considered humane to separate a baby from its mother against her will immediately after birth. Their excuse. I was in possession of cocaine. This is their justification to separate mother and child. I could understand if I was a cartel member, responsible bringing large quantities into the country or a major trafficker, moving pounds or onces from state to state into the communities, but I was a petty dealer and user only looking to support my own habit. I was just a plain tax paying American citizen with a drug problem. Punishment is the only acceptable answer, a casualty of war, a war as senseless at Phnom a war on drugs. I am a POW. July thirteenth. Dear baby inside me. I decided that baby was too general a term so I'm now calling you baby inside me. It's more intimate. I keep thinking. They're going to come to me and say you've been humiliated enough. Surely you've learned your lesson after all you're pregnant. Giving birth is sacred. It's what continues our race. It would be disgraceful to punish a pregnant woman for such petty offense the sides. It was only a little cocaine. Not, totally sure, but if you're a boy, you'll be Andrew or Paul and if you're a girl, you'll behavior Kaley. I've been watching the call out cheap for medical appointment but nothing. I'm beginning to wonder if they've forgotten us. Good night, my love. September tenth. Dear Haley. Can you believe I spent my entire second trimester without a checkup? One, trip to the warden at mainline settled that. have also got good news. I talked to my mother into taking you, so I don't have to fight the state to get you back from foster care. It's such a relief, but also I. Worry because my mother's an alcoholic. And again she raised me and I'm still here I'd rather you be with her than strangers? At least I know she'll be delighted to give you back and we'll always have something in common having been nurtured into this world by the same woman. Will. Be Sisters of sorts. was scares me. The most is that you won't WanNa. Be around me when I come home. That you'll be so attached to my mother that you won't want to come with me. I'll be the stranger. I didn't want to see with. My only solace is you'll be too young to remember any of it, and since I believe, everything happens for a reason. I know that when all is said and done this prison experience will have made me a better person. Allowing me the opportunity to appreciate the things in life, people take for granted daily, thus enriching the quality of my life. The time will come for us to part, and the days will be long and the nights dark, but you'll be the guiding light at the end of the tunnel. Could Night Sunshine. November twenty six. Dear Haley. Today's Thanksgiving. I knew I was going into Labor before it actually happened. I had been having minor irregular contractions all that weekend. I knew you were coming, but I was trying to hold out as long as possible because I didn't want you to leave me. On Sunday night I had a dream that I gave birth to you in my bunk quietly. Only my bunk, he knew. We were passing you back and forth from top bunk to bottom. You're laughing and playing. We hit you during count and fed you. Reese's peanut butter cups. At. Daybreak my bunk. He helped me stuff you back inside of me for the day. And I burst you again at night. Strange dream, indeed. If only it were possible. I went to sit call that Monday morning. They walked me to rnd dressed me and cuffed me at the hospital. When the doctor told me I was definitely in Labor I started crying. I was losing you and I was totally helpless to do anything about it. The epidurals only covered the physical pain. At least they uncuffed my hands after shackling me to the bed. Shackled to the bed, during delivery I later found this to be a mistake, but I was grateful for it because it offered the CEO's guarding me enough comfort respect my privacy by leaving the room during birth when they weren't supposed to. I stayed in the hospital with you for two days shackled to the bed the entire time. I was shackled, pulled and watched during bathroom, use and showers. I barely slopped. I didn't want to lose a single night with you. You're the prettiest baby I have ever seen. I still can't believe your mind. However, it doesn't feel so. Giving you up was the most difficult thing I've ever done. It was like saying goodbye before having a chance to say hi. They wouldn't even let me see my mother. The nurse came and took you to her. I ended up having to hand over to a stranger anyhow. I was taken back to the prison and dressed in. The only relief was being unshackled. A never been shackled for so long time ever. Could still feel the phantom shackles hours after they'd been removed. My mother brought you to visit me at the prison one last time before travelling the five hundred miles home. I laid in bed for a long time. And cried and slept, cried and slept. It felt so light without you. Devoid of substance I was nearly floating. Dr Pressed me to consider antidepressants as though the cure could be found in a pill. How about letting me go home? That's the cure. My Mother's journal stops there. This is Nicole Chalon junior reading ravenous by Caroline Ashby. Always run toward the sound of shouting metal, crunching and glass shattering. My mom would wonder aloud where she went wrong in my rearing, she thought one day she would find me in a body bag or worse missing. I'd be lost. My bones lonely bleached by the unyielding sun. I hate hospitals, morgues and funeral homes, although my activity speaks differently. I am the first to arrive. Mom requested only my company. During her final days, she utilized the quiet gift. The feared in me while I watched her last breath in the post. Stop in her neck. Life was clear and sharp death uncovered without discrimination. In the year after she blew with the wind and floated and sunk. In her most private rivers. I attended six weeks. We are all aware of the charade. The cans on the shelf or straightened in hopes it will change the flavor of the contents. I yearn for the day. My pulse would stop and I could be. With my mom. What I didn't see happening. A purpose oldest organization in the kitchen. Products kept an uncapped more flavor to the unsalted and a stronger desire. To live. My name is Adam Faulkner I'm a poet in an educator and I'm honored to be reading the Brilliant Grace Notes by poet Matthew Mendoza. Chose to stand for this writer because I believe that the racial caste system that is mass incarceration in this country presents probably the greatest threat to American democracy, today. And I believe in creativity in education is practices of freedom in that everyone regardless of circumstance. But especially, those whose voices are being systematically silenced has a vital story to tell. and. I feel called to the work of amplifying those stories in whatever small ways I can, so it is an absolute honor, an honor to share this poem Matthew Thank you for the opportunity in. Thank you for your work. And when I read it I should say. That in this moment of hysteria. In Corona virus uncertainty where we're all swinging back and forth between slight normalcy in fear Doom, where we're all scared, anxious and worried about the people we love Matthews Poem Stopped Me Dead in my tracks. At a moment where everyone I know, love some of us for the first time are faced with real questions. Of their own mortality. Their own freedom. Matthew slows. The world down reminds us to take a breath. He offers us an owed to the beauty of the natural world, the mundane the ritual, the jumbled prayer of forgiveness and gratitude, and the importance, good guide, the importance of grace of goodness of finding ways to pick our heads up. Be Kind to each other in notice the sky again. And again. This is grace notes by Matthew Mendoza. Grace notes. If there is a place of grace, it is not here. The side this season will stream. The water does all the things that water does burble trickle, rush and roar. The moments of our days become lives wearing a smooth. We are not river stones. There is no grace here. This is just water. Just like food is not love and washing your hands of the hearts, stains is just a myth. Forgiveness does not flow like water. It's fall. It's always fall now. Leaves are not hands. Still I read their poems. My fingers drift along the frame of the still leaf. I tell the leaf sometimes you are outgoing. Sometimes you are wary. You find it scary to reveal too much. The trees share decades, but their leaves are short lived. Forgotten moments frozen in an orange fire. I practice forgiveness and gratitude and mumble jumbled prayer. As I set the leaf sale. I follow the last glide of its early journey. Then as I stumble over dirt, beer cans condoms. This becomes a mirror of my own life. The stem like. Make an important rudder. The Leaf drifts past a rock and my leaf circles in the Eddie of a near Miss, a boulder. Becomes a matter of perspective. My own hurt becomes the stream. My pain wearing smooth the lives of people I love. I watched the leaf circle circle sink. I go back to the place. I started and find another leaf, and if this one sinks find another. I know that this dream is not forgiveness, or goodness or grace, but it is. The only water I have. I was just A. BIZ! I. Would be sure. Who should side in crowned? And Week REX is moist. Was Eerie you. Must Be A. Something in. ME. Et is so scary. How important! To. You. Need to know me. But I'm afraid if you know. You might turn we. Just! Is Regardless. Grow was that. Must Be love. Hum You See. The. Is. All of this. Last. Touched by. Is What lead. You. For so low. Your friend even. For. This is. That it. Try To. Feel what you feel you. Dare down and destroy. Love. We May. Stole the cans. What is. was. A. Robbie I know if we were in person, this is a moment. When perhaps you would invite us to take a breath. Even though this is a podcast recording. I am sitting the top of Manhattan in your sitting in Queens. I. Still want to welcome to lead us through. A closing breath. It's even harder when tears they're right there, but for everyone listening all over the country all over the world. Held together in the same space of art beauty in love and hope. I want us all to breathe in. That hope. That togetherness that unity across division. An altogether. Right now we'll breathe air. In slowly letting out. Full of gratefulness, full of love full of care. Thank you all. Thank you, robby full of listening. For the art. Of Community somebody words. To use in response to this incredible podcasts at our community put together. My name is Kate's Meissner the prison justice, Writing Program director at Penn America and I wanna take just a moment to thank a few people who helped put this together namely first and foremost. The person whose voice you just heard Robbie, pollock, who is the prison injustice writing program manager at Penn America in so thoughtfully? And artfully and beautifully stitch together all of the contributions. From our readers and writers musicians into the incredible listening experience, you heard today. We also have to thank our pen America Prison Writing Committee. Who Judges are awards every year, but a special sub committee helped curate the readings in this program. That includes Gloria J brought Marshall chess neck, Michael Giuliani Grace Carney Katie. Lasley Ryan de Matthews Amanda Miller Crystalline. And the are you saw on the slide show if you were watching with sourced from a couple of organizations, artists that connection rehabilitation through the arts and the confined. Of course, we would be remiss not to say a very loud and proud. Thank you to haymarket books for partnering with us on this podcast and to you for listening and lending your ears at a time. When people are calling for us to listen, and as doing at says to to use as a moment to slow it down, so we can really see what we're contending with and listen to the voice of of of other artists, and in this case, artists most directly impacted by. The justice system. And I'll end on saying if you're looking for places to get involved in translating this emotion into advocacy. I, it's all over the Internet certainly. But also temperature check newsletter, which focuses on Kobe nineteen impact on incarcerated people, but also expands beyond that to look more holistically the. In history were in, there are always action steps and advocacy efforts that you can participate in at the end of those newsletters that can be found at Penn Dot Org. Works Justice. In conversation hold each other up. That also like to thank our summer, interns broke mcilvaine and tally off for their tremendous effort, transcribing incubating the artwork seen in this listening event. And to Kenya, Emmanuel and Hamilton Berry for sharing their music with us throughout this listening experience Dole, prison, educators, teaching artists who go behind the wall and share, love and art. Thank you all and thank you for listening.