Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Cradle to Grave

From Cradle to Grave


The following is a different perspective on what our culture considers to be the prosecution of justice –


I'm sitting in the

corner of my cell,

one dim bulb

barely enough light to see

these scrathings on paper.


It's called death row,

they've just turned down my

latest appeal,

my attorney tells me it's

the last.


It could be anytime,

they'll lay me out

strapped down on that insidious gurney

expecting me to resist

as if i don't know that

there is no escape,

as if i don't have a mind of

my own,

as if i can't see the steady, relentless

drumbeat of naked reality,

as if i don't know death,

as if i can't feel his icy presence,

my cellmate for all these years.


There never has been any


seventeen years now

in a cage,

gnawing confinement,

relentless and unforgiving boredom,

the endless hours,

the frightening moments.


It's like living

inside out,

viscera exposed,

bones and sinew

raw and beaten,

thoroughly beaten.


That's the way it was

for years,

living with an open wound,



I could have wasted them all,

but i put my mind to use,

it was woefully neglected in the streets

where i was taught,

where we were instructed

in our own self demolition,

where the lessons we learned,

that our lives would come to naught,

that we were not deserving of the effort,

where we were prepared for the grave

and the prison.


I've put my brain to use,

I studied,

I've learned to love knowledge,

to embrace it,

to caress my thoughts,

to nourish them,

even within this insufferable



It is forever cold here

where justice has been thoroughly


where  the only illumination comes from



I am not ready, yet

I am ready.


Don't misunderstand

I don't expect to recover,

to be greeted by angels,

to be enlisted in the

devil's army,

once the needle is thrust into my

rebelious arm,

once the poison is forced into my

mortal body

whose only goal is survival,

once the light inside my head is

turned off,

I will make that leap

into the abyss of darkness and

return to that place where only

molecules reside.


I didn't kill that storekeeper, but

he had a reputation,

ruthless, brutal and unforgiving,

he hated us for our color

for our swagger,

for our determination to live.


It doesn't matter what i say,

truth is of no consequence

when justice must be served,

for he was white and I am not,

for it is assumed that i am of

little value,

that was the lesson that

I was expected to learn,

I didn't learn it well.


My guilt or innocence is of

no import,

somebody must be held


they chose me.


I am not bitter,

I gave that up long ago,

far too corrosive.


I have forgiven

all of them although

I can't forget.


This corner of my cell

feels damp and cold,

yet i am comforted by

my thoughts,

I take pleasure in these words

that i scribble with this pen i'm

not supposed to have

lest i take my own life and

deny justice its grand opportunity.


I cradle my days,

savor them,

improve my mind,

nurture it,

I have an insatiable hunger for


even though it has not

served me well.


Soon they will come for me

expecting the worst,

they do not understand that

I am a man,

that I am ready.

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