As human beings we’re always trying to leave our mark. It’s embedded in us to leave remnants of who we are, what we’ve done, what we believed.
From the Pyramids to the Projects to the Prisons, man seeks to resurrect his language, visions, feelings. This specific thought settled upon me one day as I was reading the writing on the walls in my prison cell. I’ve been in cells with more graffiti than a New York subway station. I’ve also read some really profound statements. That may be what inspired this writing.
I’m in a cell where someone was on a Jesus crusade. There’s 10 different scriptures written all around the cell. Some beautiful ones too:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life to which you were also called.”
And just above that someone else had wrote “No Mercy”.
In the last 2 and 1/2 months I’ve been in 5 cells. Over 15 years I couldn’t count how many different cells I’ve been in nor recount all that I’ve read from the walls. But, it has been a moving compilation. Some of the things I’ve read have stirred me down to my soul.
When I returned to Seg August 9, 2011 and was placed in the most restrictive housing with only a pair of socks, boxers and sheets (not a single thing else) all I could do was sit on my steel bunk and look around. There I saw a gut-wrenching paragraph scribbled on the wall:
“Only the strong survive. Welcome to hell. You can cry, scream, pray- they don’t give a fuck. Just do what I did- smile and make it fro day to day.”
And it sat deep with me as I soaked up the screams, kicks and bangs to the door. It was a reminder to the seriousness of the prison Industrial Complex.
Though some of the things I’ve read have ranged from babble to insane to poetic, I give these inscriptions as much respect as any philosophy or novel book; if not more, because these words weren’t written from fiction, rather real life. I preview this penitentiary walk through these inscriptions. I preview the hope (“Jesus Saves”) and the despair (“I wake up in the morning and I ask myself – is life worth living, should I blast myself.”- Tupac “Changes”). I need to remember that the stakes are high and that these people are playing for keeps. Therefore, there remain things to fight and overcome.
May this poem say the rest of what this writing intended to.