Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yes, Virginia, there is magic, a wonderful glow that wraps, encompasses all. Perhaps Santa Claus. Perhaps Easter Bunny. Always, always miracles. On October 2 Evan Henry joined this world weighing in at 7lbs 15oz & red, yes, red hair. My dear friend Julie just sent me that terrific news. I couldn’t get on my knees fast enough. To feel that blood, that joy, that togetherness. I’m so thankful. So overwhelmed again! Noah. Amanda. Thank you – thank you so very much! Julie wasn’t able to see Evan Henry yet but both Eric & Noah said he’s perfect. No surprises here.

Reading of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike – pain of those families knowing your son is starving self to death for a cause that may have escaped their logic. (Actually the families were profoundly supportive – pained, but behind them). Such a profound sacrifice. So beautiful you can almost reach in & touch that love. That suffering. That where man became so much more. Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee, Michael Devine.

The radio is playing “Imagine”. John’s birthday the 9th. 7 days from Evan Henry’s. “The dream we dream together; reality.” Right now my heart is bursting. I feel I could cure. My tears elixir. I’m not moving from this position. To live within rapture.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Yesterday a friend reminded me of a few forgotten exercises. I did last night. Felt amazing. I’m at the point where fat is almost nonexistent. Bone, muscle. Flesh. A tent. Canopy of. I want to strip away not only physical waste, fat, but spiritual – creative-intellectual. None of this surprising. Life is in a constant state of flux. Constant movement. Americans crave comfort. Comfort foods. Think of the foods that comfort you. Feel good. Odd. Whatever. I’m in the midst of three tremendous books, well two. One is about a huge hero of mine – Thomas Merton. Decent bio but not much about Merton here. Enough to hear his voice. Tap. Focus. Move into that light. He had a humongous house. The treasures. Delight. Reading Women In Love. That’s taking back seat. But taking the whole back seat. Main focus Ten Men Dead. I strongly recommend. Starts with history of hunger strikes. Act of dying at “enemy’s” door. Quite profound. Chilling. Bravery. Loyalty. Brother/sisterhood beyond words. So thankful I found it. The fact that it’s here – good sign. Too much finger pointing. Too much we’re repressed. How can you hold down the truly free? Ten men stopped eating to their deaths for a handful of issues. Twenty some years ago. Imagine. I would love to ask Einstein what percent do we use of our brain. What percent of soul? Red-winged blackbirds jabbered on & on this morning. I have not forgotten how it feels to hug. I will never forget how to love. I like this path. Love these shoes & this coffee? Actually does a good job. This morning inside writing first: “Friday I’m in Love” then Nazareth’s “Love Hurts”. Frankly a mind blowing perfect version is done by Townes Van Zandt. If you haven’t heard it – do without pause. & his songs are so profound. So perfect. Right now Velvet Underground. Need to take a shower but I just can’t move Just can’t. Won’t.

“I was wondering (here it comes says you), that out of the goodness of all yer hearts you couldn’t get me one miserly book & try to leave it in: The poems of Ethna Carberry – Cissy. That’s really all I want. Last request at they say. Some ask for cigarettes. Others for blindfolds. Yer man asks for poetry”. Bobby Sands.

so alone still Alive

distance traffic
grass crickets

Noah prepares
son to rise
my father’s


Monday, October 29, 2007


Monday another month. Fog settles dawn. Dampness rests about the collar. Breath. Went to library to write, return books. As I sign in, “Go to security suite”. Long story short my mail has been monitored. Asked what was I doing. I reply: “I write. I read. I exist.” “Yeah, not too good with writing poetry” – “Yeah,” I sigh. Everyone’s a critic – but that’s cool. Bottom line. “Don’t talk smack”. “I don’t” He knew. He’s read everything. I have no secrets. No “real” problems. I admit to every possible questionable action. To tell you the truth – we were both confused. All my letters were there from the past week. My only concern was I hope no one was worried. Concerned I hadn’t written. Earlier asked if I had any tickets. “No”. I think we understood each other. Stood, shook hands. Dropped of my letters at mail box. Went back to library. “Can I get on the computer?” “Sure”
Re-wrote some poems. Amused I write poetry. Strange. I guess I take my words for granted. So much a part of me. My walk. My eyes. Fingertips. After writing I got into the stacks. Found Ten Men Dead: The story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike. How cool is that? Emily Dickinson. Grabbed current “GQ”. Read a few bits & pieces. Jack White. Being in the wrong time. I don’t get that. Then everything fell together. The reality. Prison. Joel said everyone’s in one. Yeah. Bobby Sands. Huge difference. I’m in their world. A huge difference from where I came from. A different time. Place. I explain a bit of the blog to the officer. I don’t write of the day to day because so much is dumb. Gossip. Madness & fits. I prefer the silence of this morning of yesterday. I can’t write of the terrors. The horrible certainties. The reality is simple. We/I broke the law. We are here. Locked up. No shock. There are rules. Yes, some seem gray. Some are pure common sense or? I want this behind me. To get it behind me I need to go thru it. I’ve explained my pain - Noah, Amanda. Their family. My family. My friends – dear, dear, fuckin amazing friends. My father. I don’t care what we eat – sure I love peanut butter. I don’t care if they read my mail. Check my body. Clothes. I don’t care about tv or what’s new in the yard. I walk. Talk. Live honestly. Respect my diction. Love my cadence. I’m an outsider. Not better than others. One of the inmates. I do get bothered by inmate fits & guard’s bad days. But again I’m a 50 year old man. Lived a tremendous life. This my pond. My monastery. Joe warned of hard time coming. I pray this was it & frankly this wasn’t hard. Finished lunch. Talked to a buddy about his life. Explained this blog & what happened earlier. “Basically your blog is an outlet for rage.”
“No, I have no rage. No real rage. Sadness maybe.” I want to take advantage of this time. Whether to understand or just be. One thing - I’m so conscious of my actions. What I project. What I accept. Reject. Knowing any rage that may exist is directed at myself. I digress. This is a different time. A different place.

Received a wonderful letter from Stacy. Always an inspiration. Always a wonder. She was wearing a thin white sweater she found in a box on the sidewalk. I felt a moment of jealousy. To be in NYC & to find something wonderful on the street. In my visits I’ve found a hat, scarf, brown leather briefcase in which Gene silkscreened a target & a great chrome chain that Jacob took home. My jealousy moves into pleasant. My Stacy. Said she read the blog before she wrote. That is the intention of the blog. To let you all know all is good & some poetry here & there. Nothing more & hopefully good. Stacy informs of terrific work schedule & mapping out poets. I’m so proud of her. Always good news. I’m grateful all is well out there. Perhaps a grandson. I’m grateful for all your support.
Good words.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


“If one can endure pain, one can live without suffering”

“If you’re gonna cry, cry because of all the good times we had, And all the laughs, and all the fun shit we did, and cry because those memories make you happy”

“It takes a brave man to walk away, to care so much that he doesn’t care about anything else, to be willing to obey what he feels inside, to be willing to suffer the consequences of living for himself." The conversation is about Paul Gauguin. He goes on…

“Every time I stand before his work it makes me cry, and I cry because I’m proud of him and happy for him and because I admire him.”

I’m proud to say I’ve encountered a few him & hers in that regard. No question about that. My Friend Leonard is a wonderful, amazing, gut wrenching, good luck if you get thru it without biting a hole in your mouth book by James Frey.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Sobbing in prison. Not just bizarre but quite ridiculous. I don’t mean crying. I mean the storm. The whole fuckin storm. Starts with a gentle tug & then the gates are thrown open & then the fall. Never a jump. Just a major dissent. Some painters do it for me - some poetry – a kiss – with out a doubt, death.

Evan’s been following me all day. Seems like he needs to talk. I’m scared. So very scared. It’s not fear of pain, frankly it’s the opposite. I walked outside late (for us) last night around 7:30. The moon was out full. Could not be missed. Could not be forgotten. Will be remembered and I thought where’s Noah, Colette, Jacob, Amanda, Kelly, Stacy, wonderful legions of friends, family, lovers. & I stopped & stared as if I were a glass unattended under a faucet on full blast. I couldn’t breathe. Evan. This life. This amazing fuckin life. I bow I fall I surrender. My father, John, who struggles so bravely without failure. I’m sure the word struggle neither defines or is a word he would accept. A brilliant soldier. No fear on the front lines & my mother, unfailing partner. Scared & probably angry though resolved. & my sister Pat, who along with her husband, is taking up the slack. I’m packed fill with emotion, concern & love for those I can’t touch, & those dried up bastards who judge & see punishment as some redemptive device. I’m tired of that bullshit. Playing some game. This world treds a razor fine line of joy & devastation of love & hate of black white of true universal truths. & America wants a perfect lawn care system. Build a better garage door & lock up those who spit into the wind. The wind ceaseless. The wind blind in direction. As I write justice. In my cell writing just reading My Friend Leonard (brilliant). Needed to catch a breath. Babbling to you of man’s insanity & Slim comes rushing in. The clouds have opened & nature has taken upper hand.

I don’t cry for myself. I sob for release. For those without. Those within. Those gone. Those soon to join. Those left behind. Those in between. For justice. For humanity. For the light to be left on. For prairie grass to take over mid-America. For Henry Ford to have never become or moronic George Bush. For silent. For hope. For Prayers. For rain. For another second to begin again. My tears are of life to tell me to go on. To retreat. My tears never of defeat. Of strength. My father taught me - to cry is to live – and Alex reminded tears allow your poisons to leave. Your sobs remind you that we are human & sad but true, when it’s over it’s over. There are no dress rehearsals so fuck your weeds & hug your child. Whisper in lover’s ear & have no fear. There is more, much more, than meets the eye, The heart. The soul.


Thursday, October 18, 2007


“Man struggles with his unborn needs & fulfillment. New unfoldings struggles up in torment in him, as buds struggle forth from the midst of a plant. Any man of real individuality tries to know & to understand what is happening, even in himself, as he goes along. This struggle for verbal consciousness should not be left out in art. It is a very great part of life. It is not superimposition of a theory. It is the passionate struggle into conscious being.”

“We are now in a period of crisis. Every man how is acutely active is acutely wrestling with his own soul. The people that can bring forth the new passion, the new idea, this people will endure. Those others, that fix themselves in the old idea, will perish with the new life strangled unborn within them. Men must speak out to one another.”

- Forward of Women In Love by D.H. Lawrence. 1920.

Though I do understand his use of man, I feel the need to underline – man & woman. A wonderful writer.

Went out to the yard after lunch. Workers were chipping up pallets in a maintenance garage. The whole yard smelled of pine. So delicious. Went right back to being a kid & helping my dad & his crew clear up work sites. Always smell of fresh cut 2 x 4’s, coffee & dark sweat. So much of us are determined by the power/memory of scent. I was right there 14-15 years old struggling being a part of that house. Those houses. Cut pine – scent of wood-my father. Always so big. Now today. I realized once again how huge he figured in my life. Didn’t always see eye to eye – but I’m his son. No question. His challenge to me – “G.M. will never hire a poet” & my reply “I’ll never drive”. Still without a license & poetry my constant. Perhaps I needed that challenge. Though for years & years I resented poetry – the responsibility. The vision. Fuck – the vision quest. Blessed.

A huge thank you to Richard Hell – I owe you big time.

Well it looks certain our mail is being monitored. We’ll keep you up to date.

Keep the faith. Share the faith.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


My friend died over the weekend. It was totally unexpected. They think it was a heart attack while she slept. Not sure how I feel.

We worked together. She was my only confidant.

We were all summoned to the conference room and then we were told. A few shrieks. All faces of disbelief & then silence. What to say? Who to say it to? What do we do now?
Go home – no. Go back to work? That seems cold. Sit here in silence? Don’t want to. So some start in with the clichĂ© sayings about dying peacefully. etc etc etc. I hate that stuff. To me it sounds phony and insincere. If you don’t know what to say just don’t say anything at all. So I go back into my office. I call my sister to tell her.

I feel bad because last week I jokingly said to a manager that she was making my friend sick and working her to death. I hope no one remembers me saying that. It isn’t the first time I have made a reference to some one dying and then they did.

The work day continued. People pretty much kept to themselves. When there was interaction everyone was extremely nice to teach other. No one was talking about it.

There will not be a funeral. Family choice. I don’t mind funerals. Been going to them since the day I was born. Big Irish funerals where it ends up being a big happy party.
A great get-together to celebrate a life. Funerals are for the living. I am a little disappointed that we can’t say a formal good bye but everyone grieves in their own way.

I know my last words to her were “Go home. You don’t need all this stress today. Go get some rest.”

She did go home and is getting rest.

Bye Marilyn. It was great spending time with you here. I’ll talk to you later when I get home.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Someone made comment regarding “Frustrated poet” then stared at me. “Not I! I’m frustrated as an American, as a prisoner, but poet, NEVER”. Poetry is here, there & everything in between. Yeah when a line or fragment arrives unannounced I need to chastise & beg to keep quiet & remind when I have paper. Rarely prepared. I was an outsider out “there”. In here same identification more. Aloof – very distant. Never confused. Just “is that how you want to be perceived?”
Like the guards here, most I understand. Just walking talking – blah blah. These are the “snore” rules. Then there’s someone & you go like –something is different – you’re actually responding to my words. Wait, Oh God! You’re listening & now you’re responding? Holy Mary why in Zeus’s name do you work here? You want your child, grandchildren, neighbors knowing you monitor men’s showers, strip down their rooms looking for cookies? How many ass cracks have you checked out? That’s my extent of confusion. Otherwise I’m in a mixmaster of boredom. At least paint, when it dries, changes. Want to thank Stacy S. for wonderful care package! Thanks. & Richard Hell for a surprise book.. Thanks! Can’t wait. Thanks for all the wonderful letters – Mom & Dad, Noah, Jonathan, Richard, Julie, Zack, Matt, James & Kelly.

Letters are great. A number of reasons, 1) you took out a part of your day to think of me of us. 2) you’re practicing a lost art – so Victorian – so this my quiet time. 3) it’s also a vitamin. Here’s a multiple – of thought, love, humor, news. Never worry about what to say. A postcard is perfect. See, I got nothing but time & frankly if I’m behind it’s because I’m out of stamps. No other reason. Letters become sacred. I used to run up first – tear it open like chocolate. Now I savor. Never first one up. Sometimes it’s a yes, sometimes nothing. Then I got out to walk. Think. Wonder what you have to say. Then come back in, tidy a small area, pop the tape , stick my nose within (for the longest time I was convinced everyone used perfume. Frank told me “No John. That’s how the outside smells”.) Pull paper out. Fondle the pages. Watch your words. Remember last time we spoke. Conjure your voice so you can read to me. & I sit back & sigh. It’s very private. When I want to show off (which is mean spirited) I read them in the yard. I read them, no you. You can only read when we’re alone & then I unknot the rope to my boat, jump in and float the rest of the night.

Couple of guys went to the hole for fighting in their cell. 5 minutes ago 2 guys were at it because they wanted the dryer. It’s better being an outsider. I do extend for some. Wrote a letter for a buddy to his mother. Talk a few down for impending depression. There is no punishment. You have isolation. Some education. Some guys love the hole cause they have their own cell – so it looks like tax payers are being taken for a ride. I think I might work on prison reform issues when I get out. There needs to be clarity – streamlining- not just from prisoner’s perspective but I’m sure from the prisons. I should have warned you I have a huge capacity for chaos – for aggression – for insanity. I should have pointed that out a while back. The reason I do now is because of my current celly. Most guys never, never quiet. So I guess he is wound tight. So logically if I’m so mellow with him & the various experiences on the outs. Yes I’m guilty. Rarely am I shocked. Disillusioned - yes. Sad – certainly. Do I spend at least 1-2 hrs a day total laughing? Without a doubt.

I miss music. Slim insists on playing the oldies. So now I live in bathroom decorated by John Wayne Gacy with nonstop James Taylor, Abba & America. In small doses ok – Large – remember Clockwork Orange. I found blue grass once. He freaked & classical reminds him of the ends of tv shows. Great – now B.T.O. Thank God I have solid memories of George’s father “Serenity Now!”

What do you know! Went to get my B.P. meds & Slim left & I have the radio for ten minutes. Yep. I’m 49. Remember the glass is never ½ full or empty – it’s cracked.

Thru all “this” this prison stuff, I have to admit this country has huge problems within prison & horrid conditions still exist. But I truly believe like every issue that affects our life, both good & bad, we really need to discuss & come to an understanding. What can we – we the voters- we the family – the families of victims – of criminals. Out of sight out of mind solves nothing. I see bitterness every day & I find it sickening. Yes, some have & take account for nothing & that’s a huge problem. This system creates a bitterness, a confusion & I think you like. I know where that leads -2nd 3rd 4th offense. First of all, explain why teenagers are in here – 16-17-18. Come on! We need to think. Stop reacting. Pro-active. Maybe now affordable healthcare, movement away from Iraq police action, prison reform, education. I’m in no ivory tower. I’m ground level in one of Wisconsin’s prisons.

Vote & thanks again for all your support/letters/gifts.

Now playing –Elliott Smith. See the difference?


Monday, October 15, 2007


In realizing that yesterday was Center Street Days I remember with fondness meeting up with Noah. Few steps from his apartment. “Hey” Noah smiles slyly & proceeds to headbutt me. “Oh, it’s one of those days”. Noah was buzzed. Ran to liquor store – not to leave him alone. The night was amazing but with such a tense emotional time we ran into Evan’s first love. Within 10 minutes I lost Noah only to find him moments later about to be arrested. He was (later paid ticket) but it was only yesterday that I realized we were both arrested within a month. He’s having a son. I’ve been in prison. Strange turn of events. He stayed within God’s law. I wandered wrong side of the tracks . Man’s law. “we know what’s best”. There’s not a moment that I’m not thankful our roles weren’t reversed. I’m reminded daily of so many interpretations of prison. Of dealing with it.

A man a few years younger spends every night shedding tears – banging his head against the wall. He’s not the first. I’ve never shed tears for myself. Beat myself up – sure – no question. But pity – never. Anger. Then the realization “what did you expect – think?”
My tears are exclusive. Evan. Noah. My whimpers for the voids I’ve created. Those whimpers become poems, pleas, prayers. My friends are angry – hurt-confused- but survivors. Not all directed at me – those insane actions – but man’s law – society’s indifference. It’s all fun & games ‘til someone loses an eye. The judicial system: one pair of pants & hands of Shiva (the Hindu God with so many arms).

The kid who had his head bashed in with the cribbage board had sold his celly’s rug cause his celly was stealing from him. Apparently he was stabbed in Green Bay. I can think of a thousand truisms. Sunday a day of rest, my mind rush hour traffic. I’m moved to another village in Mexico. One which receives most of the news from the front. I continue to be the unlawful monk. Trappist raccoon & I do admit my judgment has been flawed.


Sidebar: As you might remember/know a wet cell - toilet sink=wet, get it? Well amongst inmates you place a piece of paper in the window. Flag. Sign of respect, courtesy. Cops hate, can’t monitor. Well with all my heart issues I’ve been opened, stripped, poked & prodded more than imagined. Hence no issue with body & varied functions. Slim convinced me to use “flag” today. So there I am abiding by con’s rules. In mid-evacuation cell door flies open. GI Joe rips out paper.
Oh well, such is life. Prison. Wide river.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Got news an inmate beat his celly with a cribbage board. News travels too fast & I don’t need to spread gossip. I bring it up for you to check out. It’s a reality check. You never know who sits beside you. He came downstairs bloody, said to the C.O. I think I killed my celly. Please say a prayer.

Walking thru the yard an alright C.O. rides by on his bike. I say “Good evening” he says, “Hi, John”. To be called by your first name is a distinction of honor. I make an effort to always get first names of every guy I meet. & I mean who I want to know. Every one has a nickname, which is cool, I get it. Some nicknames are true. Some hype. First name so personal. So civilized.

If prison could be narrated I’d elect Slim. He’s a feisty guy – a physical resemblance to Charlie Manson. But frankly, without a doubt, we’d be friends on the outs. Without a doubt he’s eccentric. Feeding the ants, banging his hand on the table – a very, very loud speaker with a heart of gold. No one, I mean no one, fucks with him. He’s honorable. Constantly he’s filling me in on things – what that guy’s about – how he owes him a soup or 2. When I told him that my mail that I send out has been opened, he told me that can happen. When I told another friend he chastised me – no one no one should know your business. Everyone is a possible snitch. I don’t send out ‘bad” things – letters, poems, you know, but I send out big packets. I wish I knew the law in this regard.

Slim introduced me to his celly James, an amazing spade player. We just lost a few games & he’s always like – don’t worry – it’s alright. Real mellow. Hated playing cards in County Jail. So much bravado & I was just learning. I think I got me a partner.

Well things change in a moment. Slim is now my celly. My last moved to another unit. I turned to Slim “you & me”. It’s cool. He works on art – I write. Radio in background. Grandboy on the way. My father fighting to stay around. & the world keeps revolving. In mine I ask for a few kind thoughts. Some prayers. A better today & a tomorrow of dreams. For all of us. A better world.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


There was no referee. There is no referee.
I’m in an empty room in an empty house. No one can hear me. Electric clock furnace & sometimes water in the pipes. Those who know me – know me. Understand that is a different question. Like all events I’m sure this one is timed though does everything happen for a purpose? Obviously certain events lead to certain results. We are governed with in a certain logic. Step outside & all willy-nilly. Every day is the same though everything is different.

Breakfast 6:30 Count 7:30 Lunch 11:00 Count 12:25 Count 4:45 Dinner 5:00
Final count at 9:45.

Within all that events such as school, programs, library, rec, canteen & misc. more. Rest of the day free. Well sort of. Speak. Routine can be good. I wake @ 6:00 work out @ 8:00-9:30/10:00 Shower lunch walk read/sleep dinner walk & talk – library every day write listen to cds there are few books to check out. Now this is I won’t make it to min because of program needs. In max, little, very little movement. Around you always wraps tension. Insane sitting with you back in the cell. No matter how much you relax you never really relax. There are people here you want to hurt & people who want to hurt you. It’s not a secret. I personally believe some of the reasons why guys are here are excessive – fighting, drinking, I’ve seen child support.

Back when I lived in Galena, we’d all go out to a friend’s house 5 miles out of town. Beautiful old farmhouse all funky and left to be. Within range an old insane asylum & poor house. Yep, locked up because you couldn’t pay your bills. That was back in the late 1800’s. Has this country even understood Darwin? Any way, my point was my empty room in my empty house. It’s where I live in here. You are those squirrels in my attic. I talk to you when I leave peanuts. Need some more newspapers?

At lunch & early today talking with some buddies, making plans for getting together on the outs. I’m so into it. Introduce fellow travelers with those who couldn’t come with. No doubt about it I’m in. We’re spread out. I look like first out – but I will keep in touch. & some of you out there can help me plan. Make cakes! We owe it to each other. We come in alone & leave alone. It’s what’s done between. Are we planning robberies, murders, car jackings – no. It’s all about survival. Same terms as life. You come in alone. It’s what you do. What you’ve become. Who you are. The difference between want & need. Strip everything to the bone. Basic construction. Structure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Guilty by association.

John wrote about that in a previous entry. I’ve thought about that phrase for a long time. Who do I associate with now? Who have I associated with in the past?
If it is true we are guilty by association then I am guilty of the following right now:

Being old, being young, being a good cook, being a snob, believing in God, hating organized religion, being Catholic, being afraid, being wealthy, being a millionaire, being poor, being on welfare, never cooking, being a civic leader, being in debt, filing bankruptcy, having the absolute best friends, taking friends for granted, having an incredible family, being mad at my family, doing my best, being a slacker, being an underachiever, being an over achiever, being Jewish, being Baptist, not caring, being a stay at home mom, pretending, spending my money foolishly, buying the perfect gift, breaking the law, drinking too much, not taking care of my health, being indifferent, being responsible, being irresponsible, helping out strangers, self sabotage, feeling too deeply, being truthful, playing jokes on people, being a liar, being curious, not ever doing drugs, being a small time drug dealer, being a vegetarian, being faithful, eating too much junk food, being the biggest bitch known to mankind, being an artist, being a sports fan, being cheap, arguing for no reason, being lazy, being judgmental, not caring enough, loving too strongly, fleeing when the going gets tough….etc, etc, etc……………


Tuesday, October 9, 2007


“He’s all upset. Said he’s got the wrong colored clothes. Says he’s paranormal”.
“Are you sure he doesn’t mean paranoid?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“That fuckin old bastard did it again. Drove his fuckin car right into Burger King.” Points to a short older guy ahead, “He’s something else.”
“What?” I ask, “Bacon?” “Listen!”
“He’s got multiple personalities. On popcorn night smashed his head. Blood all over his bed. Popcorn. “Wonder what that tasted like?” “Probably a Bloody Mary.”

In here we have mispronunciation. Misrepresentation. Insanity. Out there – how can you get your cheap ass super hot coffee & fatty fatty breakfast without risking your life? Ah…another weekend.

Strange whether here. Or there. Weekends have their own personality. Character. Let’s rush & do nothing. Except of course if you work weekends. Then your weekends are picked & chosen. Either way it’s laziness & a teaspoon of discipline. Frankly you do nothing. Some have school, jobs, programs. Some just time. All the time in the world & all the time won’t put you back together again. Ah… weekends.

And again if I haven’t already said, mentioned – prison is different in Wisconsin. Very different in Osh Kosh. Osh Kosh is the sex offender prison for this state. And believe me when you hear some of the stories there are no questions why those men are here.

I read a few articles recently about prison & people’s views. Experiences. One was by a kid who was imprisoned in South Korea for smuggling hash in from the Philippines. Interesting story. Just a lot of the same –o. Oh well. Then I read the next month’s issue & in the letter’s section one reader was irritated. Miffed. Whatever. That kid expressed no guilt. Who are we? What are we? Look – the kid made a mistake, got caught, got sick, some amazing stories. Did his time. Well for one, his crime made sense. A huge profit & doing a service for hash heads. He wasn’t smuggling coke or smack or even guns. Oh well. Everyone wants justice. Boy this world must be so enlightened. Like a single bud of joy – perfect. Wake the fuck up you sniveling rat – who are you Carry Nation’s grand nephew? We all want safety & protection & security so let’s lock them all up.

Scooter Libby is freed. I suppose now they would have executed Ezra Pound. Let’s give Oscar Wilde 95 years. Well Virginia Albert Fish ate Santa Claus – now go to fucking bed!

Monday, October 8, 2007


Mist. A light wilty mist. Cleansing. Turning slowly to heavier drops. Rain. Mist. The blazing sun are my favorites. The sun is obvious. Without it only blackness. Pointless. Sun redemptive. Every dawn fresh. Every break sound overcast. A continuing thread thru existence. Ours – theirs – soon to be another’s. The sun. Sons – daughters. The circle unbroken. Why rain? Besides the fact of life as with the sun. The rain is affected by other elements. It’s reactive. Like humans. The sun. Though it sounds cruel , it’s routine. Rain is a lover. Best friend. Sometimes hated enemy when it joins evil forces. Rain interrupted as blessing from heavens. Tears of angels. I prefer a shower. Nature’s bath & the ground our bath mat. To receive & deliver. Out here it seems easier to accept rain. You get wet & you decide if it works or not. Stay or go in. No running. No oh my god, my bagel!

Our first human contact is a medical professional of some extent. Our first washing by the same. Then family. Mother. Father. The lists goes on. Showers, baths meant to cleanse. Scrub away life’s life. Dirt. Grease. Mankind’s gambling. Here there are no baths anywhere. From 5 minutes to whatever. Unless you work you have no grease & unless you trek, no dirt. So showers are for reducing stench. The funk of 2000 men. 200 without windows The funk. So rain. Rain like a spontaneous mother, father, friend, lover.
Now is the time to bathe. So I walk thru mist to rain. Remembering baths of the past. Their notable showers with friends/lovers. A surpise. Evan. Noah. In the kitchen sink. Wedding night. Tripping with friends. Cleaning of drunken buddy. Water. How glorious we get caught up in morning coffee. Where are the goddamn donuts! Life. We’re what 80% water? Linked by that which slides thru. I prefer water to snake- chicken-bean. Water & monkey. Our human way. Perhaps it’s that tiny slice of monkey that leads our crazy way. Some more monkey than water. The rain is perfect for thoughts. First like the lone ducks that soar above only 3 of us. Soon joined by a 4th. Seems to be the #’s that dictate my life.

In the silence interrupted by traffic in the distance & scuffing of boots behind, I drift. Rowboat without oars. Sail boat. Cheesecloth sails. I drift. You should join. Focus on your open palms. Trace the creases with your eyes. Fill the gulleys with water & slowly touch your toe into your river & drift – drift. No donuts.

Huey Long died Sept 10, 1935
Hamida Djandoubi (Tunisian immigrant) last person to be executed by the guillotine in France.


Sunday, October 7, 2007


Over five years ago in that rear view window they call the past, Sundays day of rest. I’d wake earliest. Colette, Jacob, Evan, Noah asleep. Perhaps feed the cats. Sometimes the fish. Always a joint. Ritual of comfort. A joint. Head phones & silence. Diamond dust upon the lips of those I love. A lot has transpired in that ½ a decade. But still the ritual is performed. Before this imprisonment I added coffee from a local shop & a walk along the river. Whether Evan slept or Noah, Amanda, or the legions of friends, lovers. I always achieved that morning’s dew. In here it’s nearly as simple. Perhaps a book. A poem. Or long walk on the solitary track. Always at least 5-10 minutes of undisturbed no thought. Today I learned that Luciano Pavarotti died. Wonderful voice & terrific presence. Another landmark lost. I need to listen to a radio today.

I’m plunging into isolation. Talk, shouts, rumbling of feet. Sounds of movement become background noise. I chose to ignore nearly everything. The air is chilled against bare arms, neck. Like silence, it feels good. To find solitude in prison – nearly impossible. But if you really focus your ears like you would your eyes unfocused. All blurs. Distorts. Fight not to understand words. Pretend another language.
Is that a seagull. Semi. Airplane. & wander wander. An unfocused focus. Most are tolerant of silence and those that know me know that when I remove my glasses I’m in my world. A world away. To be solitary is to be ruthless. To remove oneself – a trait of Pisces. It’s that they deal well with both ambiguity & solitude. A trait that carries true with both Kelly & myself.

A fact of history is that Ezra Pound was jailed in an insane asylum (St. Elizabeth’s) after WW II. Later in life in an attempt to explain why he stopped writing he said, “I don’t work anymore. I don’t do anything. I have become illiterate & unread. I simply fall into lethargy… & I contemplate”.
He’s also known for “I did not enter silence. Silence captured me”.
So right. So right on. I fight to stay awake. Though entirely different men under entirely different circumstances, not to mention his brilliant mind, I do understand what Ezra means. You enter a vacuum. Somewhat beautiful. Somewhat is. He had quite a bit more freedom. Friends/family – rules, but there is something to be said. Men love to go to the hole. Remove themselves from the last shreds of humanity. The silence. The silent. Bone crushing roar. Here I can only go so far. I am surrounded. We all know how easy it is to get lost in a crowd.

On a side note, listened to the radio & constructed some cup-ups of Arthur Rimbaud – really nice way to drift a Sunday afternoon.


Friday, October 5, 2007


6:45 am. Just finished breakfast. A friend just got out of the hole( involved in some kind of tobacco smuggling – probably set up). He was from another unit but now he’s in our wing. I have written “about” him in the past. Actually he is the reason I won’t talk with Beasty anymore. Guilty by association. Breakfast talk was about the “evil” of Beasty & his controlling ways. “He’s bored.” “ He needs distractions.” “ It’s a power play.” “ He’s pissed that he gave me the directive to stay away or I’m guilty by association” “& I dumped him”. We tend to invest so much time & energy into what is right or what to do about the simplest thinks because we have no “control”. We attempt to control everything – each other. Remember, I’m in Mexico – free meals, a bed to sleep on. My objective is simple. To be here now. Understand the perimeters of loneliness. To be alone yet full. It’s like when you first ride a bike & everything is cool ‘til you realize it’s working. You’re riding the bike – then you crash. Overthinking. Here guys want to pull you into their drama –their world. That’s real intimate for me. Sometimes too real. Is it because there are no women? the fence? the power that be? I’m working on it. For now my mantra –
“We live as we dream – alone”. Joseph Conrad. The fear that the great hanging over our head, fear. Alone. For whatever reason & I’m sure I’ll babble about it later. But I’m like a pendulum. Swing from one side to the next. (Sidebar: Did you ever see Vincent Price in The Pit & The Pendulem? One of great, I believe, Hammer films? I first saw it when I was 9 in a huge old barn in Catholic summer camp. Scared the shit out of me. After seeing it , me & the rest of the camp walked 2 miles back to our bunkhouse in the pitch black. I also saw Rebel Without A Cause that summer. Amazing.) Either hanging in a group or totally alone. Here both are so easy. I’m learning to shut off my mind. Just like a faucet. I fantasize I can hear the clouds moving. Any way, I told these guys he’s lonely & he’s been locked up too long. One guy said it’s because he’s evil & Christians are always good and never do acts that create violence. I was like. “Right. Heard of the IRA?” “Christians are not the only ones wanting peace” I replied. “Every religion wants peace & harmony.” He didn’t want that – of course “those guys” Point being, relax. Take care of your house.

Have you removed your gutters so you neighbor’s basement isn’t being flooded? Paint your house so property values aren’t dropping? My gift to myself this winter will be Walden. Can’t wait. No pond but I got a wonderful sky. Just lie on my back.

Big John is a drugstore cowboy. Loves downers. Loves chaos. Loves to talk. Nice tats all done by close friends - mostly family friends. Small time criminal finally got caught serving a couple years. His wife (first & only love) died suddenly. Brain aneurism & he flipped out. Loves oxy. Well he lives a few doors down. We’re right across from program 3. (Next step after coming out of the hole). They can only buy basic canteen items – some chips, crackers, stamps & letter writing items. So last night there’s Big down on his knees with a buddy sliding swiss cake rolls over to a guy in program 3. A box goes for 98¢ on canteen. These guys pay 4-5 stamps. An alright profit. If you get caught – could lose canteen & get a month of building confinement. He does it not for profit. He does it to, as he claims “Share the sweet!” Oh, well – something to see.

Saturday I’ll do my exercises. (A routine is mandatory). Shower & hang out. Soon mail. A nap. Perhaps a poem shall visit.

A thank you to James Liddy & Staff @ “The Blue Canary (15)” Published a poem of mine of which I have no recognition writing. I’ll end with it. Blue Canary Press is at
3348 N. Gordon Place, Milwaukee, WI, 53212. Check it out. Good work from solid poets. Thank you.


In sail
Nose follows open windows
the whole way home.
Open yr mouth
press against mine
replace blood
with silence
& death
became a metaphor.

I was a sailor
in a world of trees
became woodsman
in a tea cup carnival.
We lead lives
of quiet
some of us
not so quiet.

Lator Gator.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Some punk punched/beat a Native Elder a few days ago – heard he was a snitch. Heard. Heard he was. Gossip travels here faster than words can follow. Heard he was a snitch. 60 yr some dude & the punk in his 20s. Yeah prison sure. Stupidity without a doubt. Disrespect certainly. Retaliation without a question. 2 dudes just went to the hole. One worked at the training kitchen. 6 pieces of ham & 8 straws crotched. Almost finished his program and then to Min. The other was found with dirty pitcher reeking of hooch. Never rinsed it out before he locked it up. Thought process. Strange thing – knew both guys alright. One did have some issues with honesty. Oh well, frankly the old dude getting his ass kicked bugs the hell out of me. Where were the guys who have some sense of right/wrong – justice – honor. Where are they ever? Is it so hard?

Another wet day. I think I’ll write letters. First to my parents & inquire as to the health of father. Likewise how my mother is holding up. In a few weeks four generations of Tyson will be roaming this country. Ha! Good luck!

Overheard: He’s on the line. Prison is the only thing that’s keeping him alive.

“He goes by Pooh-Pooh”

“Little ole gun got him 2 years. Got out used a gun. Now he’s in county jail facing 90 years”.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


It’s clear prison is packed full of criminals by definition/political ambition/stupidity. & like the outside world, they look, smell, talk & walk oh so similar. So for me the apartment, my neighbor – 404. The time I spent in 404 – smoking-powder-the crazy times. An alright friend who was never without a profound amount of dope. Yeah, where was I? – oh yeah- hypocrisy. I never denied I broke the law or two. Some conscience some un. Always lived an eventful life. Broke some hearts which I really regret. I would like to think I process as a factory – bring in, input raw product, inspiration & out comes my life. My footsteps. Words.Poetry. Love. (God it’s hot here. Must be out there!)

But for all my bitching about hypocrisy there are some incredible guys in here. Not quite welcome wagon but close to it. This is our train – our nation- our little island in the sun. Our movable feast. Within constraints what we make. Of it. Our time. I’m very upfront about mine – “ I’m John – got an internet crime”. “I’m Bob. 20 grams of powder”. “Sam, stabbed the guy who raped my fiancĂ©” & so it goes. What we make of it. Our choice. No one else’s. Talk of childhood- smoking, first love, first crime( one @ 5, stabbing a playmate). Crazy, crazy stories. Sitting in the dayroom or the picnic benches, just like home out on the porches/kitchen table. These guys are always surprised to seem my #.
“First time in prison?” “Yep”. “Don’t look like it”. “Thanks”. It is a compliment. First timers are like drunken deer on first day of hunting season.

So I guess I’m getting to that point that if you can’t understand you’re in prison & your crime. Deemed by the state puts you next door – same cell – with someone who killed. You need to look in that mirror. You need to talk to that person & understand the nature, purpose of this prison. Any prison. With or without bars. I attempt & succeed with that conversation every day. I know I’m alive cause I’m in here & whether I’m in here for this or that crime, I’m here & I have broke the law. & I do seek forgiveness. Acceptance. Love. Frankly I’m freaked out. So many examples of blinding, I mean blazing sun blinding support. My friends in SF who have never ceased as my friends. In Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia, NYC, Baltimore & now all, if not most of you. I thank you. From the top of my heart to the bottom of my soles. Not only do I want to understand – explain-cry-laugh-scream with joy ( my grandson soon to be here). I want to come out of this ahead. Will I be good? – probably not. Will I be a better, wiser, more honest – perhaps a better poet? Well for this once I’ll let all of you decide. Comparison? Well, I don’t know. I guess you’ll have to base it on my word(s) – actions.

There is no doubt in my mind that this sentence was/is extreme. There is no doubt it has and will help politicians to get reelected & nighttime smoother. & There is no doubt there are those with similar crimes with an added smoking gun that is of some concern. I’m here & time flies. As I said & will say time & time again – look over your shoulder – look over your shoulder good. This country who I love & adore has taken a turn that will not truly benefit. Now talk about National Health Care or even affordable health care – getting out of Iraq – an investigation into the ones who have profited greatly. Look at our environment – our dependency on oil. The king is naked & the magician has nothing, nothing up his sleeves. If that’s you Ron K. who is trying to reach me give me your g.d. address.

Over and out. I’m back to sweating & sweating & sweating. I’ll say hey to Steve McQueen.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Sometimes I’m braiding three wild mustang’s tails together into one. Nothing dormant. Kaleidoscope evolution. Noah & his family/music/life one tail – John Ashbury again reciting “To The Harbormaster” at Frank O’Hara’s funeral & James Schulyer interjects “Daylight” –

And when I thought
“Our love might end”
the sun
went right on shining

Allman Brothers rip into heart breaking, soul terrifying, blues shaking “Whipping Post”. Threatens most sublime existence. Inhale fresh cut grass as buddy recounts gutting some bastard who passed out after raping his girlfriend. & they wonder why my blood pressure is high. It’s the drive baby & this mother fuck’n amazing view. The view. The view bleak hold your own hands baby cause we’re all goin’ to die & nothing goin’ to warn us or stop it. But the sun will always rise & plop that big ass down. Shake shake squeeze. Is this a result of prison. Of solitude. “What”. As we interrupt, Albee’s play the point. Who stops in the middle of the day, in the middle of work, middle of coffee, middle of piss statement question big mac sandwich. Well – I don’t know. I stop. My kidney’s work fine & my questions are rarely answered & my statements are questioned & I got no job & the middle of my day is rarely remembered cause when I do remember to remember my head is hitting this state owned pillow & I’m back on the wing again.

If you need two points to compose a line but only one for a circle & if the circle remains unbroken then why should we stop? We don’t stop for nature. We stop upon man. Nature serves every purpose & man subjects. As I listened to the Allman Brothers today on a very clear, hot, wonderful September afternoon all decked out in my state greens, funky ass used headphones attached to my head like some crazed aviator in a 1930’s B&W Marrakesh Express “You are there” film & Whipping Post does it’s thing. I’m back in Waukegan circa 1986 & Colette is as sweet & gorgeous as ever & Evan’s alive & he & Noah are hanging out in the front yard & I’m refinishing some fucked up piece of shit chair I some how believe is “important”. We’re struggling to make ends meet on welfare. Me laying carpet, selling furniture. Trying to figure the American way – but just good ole white trash intellectuals thinking we’re going to make a/the difference & it’s spring & for once I’m not bitching & Marvin Gaye is still alive & that fucking circle is unbroken but dragging & we’re dying but still struggling & now as those guitars moan I can say fuck, what did we do? Why are we here? & figure what in God’s name I sound like some crazied fat man that just ate 4 boxes of Little Debbies. I’m still hungry.

What the hell man – it ain’t the destination baby! It’s the motherfuckin trip. It’s the trip. Our trip & we are those navigators – the drivers – the passengers. The song ends & my armpits glide where normally only friction is & I’m grateful & I’m blessed. Yeah, still broke & stupid & cockeyed & pigeon toed. But I’m here & you’re here so grab those other passagogoes & drive baby drive! I got a brand new baby seat in my car. In our car. My son Noah’s & Amanda’s car. & Colette’s & Richard’s & Pat’s & John’s & Pat’s & Gary’s – all our travelers from all our trips. Yeah even those who have moved on. We’re taking them too. Cause baby it’s what’s always been in front – let’s move.
I’m gone.