I can’t help myself. I think constantly. Words bombard as bats in a barn. Most of the time a distraction appears & I’m off in la-la. Now it’s different. Reading a brilliant book. Romantic Outlaws, Beloved Prisons by Martha Grace Duncan. I mark & remember words, sentences, thoughts, paragraphs for later recall. I can’t now. She just quoted John Brewster’s the use of solitude in prisons. “It has been recommended, both by the practice and precept of holy men, in all ages, sometimes to retire from scenes of public concourse, for the purpose of communing with our own hearts, and meditating on heaven.” Wow! Then Solzhenitsyn –“Rejoice that you are in prison. Here you can think of your soul.” Mind-fucking blown. Early after work I went out in the yard. It’s below zero & I and an older guy who’s jogging are the only ones out. It’s beautiful. Cold enough to breathe deep. Warm enough to feel as if your blood has been replaced by love. The horizon white silent. Awe. ½ hour I wander. When was the last time I ever went walking in freezing weather to enjoy/worship her beauty. Never. I’ve never. Well sober. Sure I’d be in my Li Po mode and wander thru blizzards with a bottle of wine but today I was/am totally naked. I’m sure me exclaiming about the beauty/positive of prison is odd. Sorry but that’s the truth. Strange thing, as a younger man I turned my back on poetry & monastic life. Now look at me. Can we truly run from ourselves. Don’t get me wrong – I adored & adore my life. Raising a family with a wonderful woman. Having the 2 glorious sons never would I change that. Yes, I’m greedy. I will serve on my terms. I dedicate my life to love and poetry. But for awhile it was without written document. Love of a man & woman. My path perhaps a bit winding. This is not a monastery by name but in function, truly. This is not the kind of information for the authorities but even Thomas More claims in A Man for All Seasons “Except it’s keeping me from you, my dears, it’s not so bad.” So then lets ask ourselves what is prison & who is in it? The guards or the cons? You or me? Reality obviously me but here I am – fed, clothed, watched. I have a library, crafts, a computer, typewriter, human contact, a cell. I can stay “here” or I can “leave”. More is so correct. Not all inmates have this kind of “view”. Many burn with anger, injustice, denial. Others, this is better than the outs. It’s an amazingly complex situation. Perhaps romanticize it. Not my intention. I question it. I question everything. But now I have to accept the fact that this is a part of my destiny. Whether to have kept me alive or to “live” thru. To force a separation to prove to myself that “that” only exists on a physical plane. I hear your voices. I feel your lips. I can hear you chew. I like you, are a part of each other’s dream. Dreams. Words as electricity carry impulses. Delivers information. Yes I crave your arms, Your stupid talk. Your complaints. Someone who I was reading (can’t remember) made a comment that when Thomas Merton “left” and lived his monastic life that was harder because he made a choice. As the true “man”, Jean Genet proclaims “ my good, my gentle friend, my cell! My sweet retreat, mine alone. I love you so! If I had to live in all freedom in another city, I would first go to prison to acknowledge my own, those of my race.” Now you getting my drift?
Got some wonderful cards, letters, gifts. Thank you Joel. Such a perfect! Elaine, forever in awe. Julie & Jonathan, you read my thoughts. And Julie, I post my “downs” because I want you all with me. I’d be a liar to say this is a carnival. It’s a circus and sometimes clowns are depressed. With all your love I feel quite selfish. & Kelly without you this “this” would not exist. I think how important words & their meanings mean to me so with total consciousness, I thank you.
This thing I’m writing is in 3 parts. 1st is Strike Hard Old Diamond. 2nd is Killing Time. 3rd not sure of title, perhaps Only Sky? What do you think? The whole pie is called Circumambulate. What a fantastic term, means to circle on foot. A part of a ritual. Something Ginsberg was known to do. Something we prisoners do. Something existence calls for.
I know this is all heavy so I will end with stupidity. At breakfast an inmate said I suffer from gluttony. I think my weight is around 150 now. My body fat ratio is amazingly low. I can count my ribs. I’m happy to tell you the truth. He was pissed because some buddies offered me their food. Yes. I said I’d end with stupid. Since there are no fat singers here’s something I wrote a while back. Later & love.
for the faggots the cons
Genet, our holy patron saint
pluck those brinks & cinders
from our blood-soaked vision
mend broken fingertips
& we shall scatter blossoms.