Tuesday, May 26, 2009


In my struggle – my investigation, my path, as all of ours, flips & curves & bounces with such an intense energy. That perhaps, I think, am I really needed here. Life moves forward with or without us. As I first stated, my struggle, so of course I need to be here. Just spent the past 2 ½ hours walking the yard. Inmates come & go. A conversation seemly without direction but moves sometimes. (most times for me). Smooth. A perfect line. From our crimes to drug of choice to mother, father, brother, sister to fucking death. Nothing, I repeat, is off limits. Sure some guys can’t talk openly about. Let’s say the details of that rape-molestation-battery. So they either move on or remain silent. I hope I will remember these treks. Today Kelly sent a package of info for me – from Hank III, my father’s obit, a website of paintings & an email from Kathleen. She edits the zine, The Worst, devoted to death. It’s impact on us, the survivors. I read about in MRR. Seems great. Very nice email. She’s got lots of poems. Wants prose. I think, yuck. So I put on the radio. Figured I’d write to you. Kelly didn’t know I was named after my father. Dave said that I “always spoke with pride about him”. In group you learn to listen to others tell you how you come across. Who you are or better yet, what you are saying. When I saw Evan in his bed I knew he was dead. Feet from his body, I knew. No comparisons. No it was like his body without him. Evan had left. I was alone with that fact. My first thought was join him & then I heard Noah. My battle began & I continued to neglect Noah. If I wasn’t a father then my son didn’t die & if I wallowed in self pity & destruction, who could tell me I was wrong? I knew I was John. Somewhere, somehow. So many many people broke apart with Evan’s passing. Some healed. Some didn’t. Now I can see what I did in an unhealthy way. & I hear “there is no wrong way to grieve”. I respond, “prison”. They reply “You’re still alive”. In my insanity some how I managed to remove myself without continuing to hurt others. This past 2 ½ years without Noah? I will do everything I can to repair. Without question. I am alive. 3 years without Evan kicks me every second of every moment. It is only in my last breath that that will be resolved. Again, what of Noah? Does Colette carry this? Do you carry this? For your brother, your father? Sister – mother- friend – lover? & how would I know. Obviously we can’t spend our waking hours grieving. We still have this life. We do get thru the day but how? And at what expense? Prison gives me the luxury of collapse. Somewhat limited support, but the support is amazing. With my father’s passing not only did my boss, the psychologist & social worker connect with me. By that I mean, real, deep fulfilling conversations where we related. Where were together. In that pain. Those lives. Our lives. None of us can escape that reality of death. To escape that pain associated with the loss of a loved one is simple – don’t love. I asked my nephew Andrew if it was a mistake to have raised Evan & Noah in such a way for them to have loved, adored each other to that extent that now is leaving Noah lost. Andrew thought I was insane to ever think of that. A few nights ago, in a dream, I was arguing with a fellow inmate about Einstein’s theory of relativity. That is based on the amount of pain one endures must be balanced with pleasure – love. That is the theory. Perhaps that was an odd dream but what I’ve learned & still am learning from the deaths of Evan , James, Reed & my father, or to be in that moment. Just be. No thought. Whatever moment. The mind/body seems to know what to do. I tried to stuff the pain of my father’s departure & I got anxiety attacks. I tried to self-destruct with Evan’s & all I got was more trouble. Reed’s, I was actually glad to be in prison. James, I wept. For me they are different though the same. Always degrees. Always exhaustion. Alice Notley is the most terrific poet. A supreme goddess. Her poems, her voice, her being as an artist for me, is the total summation of breath taking. & this woman has survived. Has taken that pain & transformed. When I think of Alice, my mother, my sisters, brothers, Noah. Colette, Jacob, Anna, Jimmy, Emily TimB, my nephews, Colette’s brothers & sisters, Kelly Richard Hell, Matt & Chrisanne, the lives they lead. The lives that have passed between, that’s the key for me. There will always be those moments. Those sad tributes. Those wonders. After Evan’s passing a lot of us either got his tattoos or variations of. My therapist at the time was concerned that I/we wouldn’t be moving on. I disagree & actually the psychologist here reminded me, “there is no wrong way to grieve”. “prison”. “You’re alive”. My regret thru all this is of course Noah. My walking away is so wrong. I knew then & I know now. I disconnected. I am reconnecting. The luxury of prison has given me that distance. That silence. Just now thru writing this I have sobbed & my eyes are swollen & stained. I just stood for count . Not one man will comment or harass. I can truly be alone here. To sort. To prepare for release. Another round. So I don’t know if I want or could write prose for Kathleen. I prefer poetry. All this. I feel I communicated better in this poem I wrote for Evan Henry:

on a Sunday

grief becomes

wild dog

you’ve just
handed me
a 2
x 4

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