Saturday, January 24, 2009

Poetry by Devon Terrell

Hell´s Waiting Room 
By Devon Terrell

Gave up my promises
You took my song
I have no voice left
Gave up my home
Who has 4gotten me
Where have they gone
Future hard 2 see
The past is all I own

2 men housed N a box
1 bottom bunk and 1 on top
The only thing they agree upon
Is 2 not get along
Silence comes from concrete
Pillow only 1 that knows me
The mind begs spirit 4 peace
We pray YAH will soon release

Where have my children gone
Babies full grown
Picture take place
Of me not being there every day
Days turn N2 years
Years stare death in the face
State of Illinois
Don´t forgive young man mistakes

Drink water from a corroded sink
Eat meals that don´t nourish me
Shower only 3 days a week
1 eye open is how I sleep
4got how a woman´s touch feels
Or her sweet words that can truly heal
Can be killed by guard or resident
Hell´s waiting room is where I live.

Devon Terrell #R70180
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434

Hello World, Thanks for allowing this inner-city kid from the south side of Chicago to share his thoughts and emotions on what it means to be a man, father, son and brother navigating through life while enduring the oppression, discrimination, segregation and stereotyping that come with incarceration. I hope you will see a human and not an animal, a mature adult and not the immature kid that brought me here, and I hope you'll see a productive and promising future and not a DOC number condemned to a lifetime of punishment for a bad choice in a bad moment during my youth. Peace and blessings to you all. Love, Devon K. Terrell Sr.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Who is You? - Part 2

January 1st, 2009 4:06 AM

My official New Years Day plan was supposed to involve some combination of the following: sleeping in, football, spreading with my neighbors, finishing part two of this entry and some letters, and glorying in the champagne waterfall afterglow of my teams' inevitable victories. (or eating some crow, depending on the outcome). You will note the definite absence of being shaken down at half past three in the sodding ante-meridian. Nevertheless, I was awoken to the curiously tuning "fork-esque" clanging of a metal baton meeting my door, which is the penal equivalent of dropping a mirror whilst having a black cat cross your path as you stand underneath a ladder. Harbinger of bad tidings, in other words..."something wicked this way comes," etc., ect. It was a relatively painless little shakedown, puny compared to its brethren of months past; little more than a "hey, we haven't forgotten about the stuff you posted on your website lately" sort of thing. No one else was hit, which is about par for the course. I even managed to get a few zingers as they trashed my canton, which isn't always an easy thing to do when you are buck naked. This one lardass was scrambling around underneath my bunk looking for...whatever it is they think people hide under their bunks and I quipped that he had better hurry up before Gregory Peck showed up with a harpoon. He didn't get it, but the sergeant did, and he busted out laughing. He was even kind enough to facilitate the English to Redneck translation to him for me. Kids, the word for today is: SARCHASM, which is defined as the immense gulf between the person making a witty comment and the people who don't freaking get it. Anyways, it's a little past 4:00AM, which is a terrible time for palaver, so here's the completion of my little survey.

21) What is your favorite color?

22) If you could do any job, what would it be, and why?
Hmm, if I could do it all over again, I think that I would gather all of the accoutrements of my silly, wasteful little life and sell them off. I would use this money to buy a cheap Jeep, something with as few electrical parts as possible (I can fumble my way though the purely mechanical portions of an engine, but I am more iffy on the electrical ones). I would pack some durable clothes in an old GI bag, grab my guitar, and head south of the border. I would travel around, doing odd jobs to survive, and writing about what I saw. I would try to make the translation from observer to witness, wherever I went. I would buy a straw vaquero hat and let my beard grow out and not care what anyone thought about the gavacho loco that was haunting their town. I would eat mangos off the trees in Michoacan, jaliscos fresh from the sea in Veracruz. I would speak little and always be polite and attentive, and poor, but clean. I would roam for years, staying in a town just long enough for people to get comfortable with my presence, and then I would be gone. I would be a sponge, looking for life, the real stuff of life that does not come off an assembly line in China or that can be found in a mall. If real life can ever truly be expressed on paper in its undiluted purity, I would try to seize it, to trap it, to harness it.

When I finished with Mexico, I would keep going south, seeing the beaches of Central America, the jungles and the cities of Columbia, Venezuela, and Brazil; the rivers of the Amazon Basin. Eventually, I would reach Argentina, the end of the line, and I would reflect on my travels. I would then either post the entire journal online for free or burn it, depending on what I felt humanity was worthy of. I guess this is somewhat comparable to what I am trying to do now, except the muses suck here and I am most certainly not paying homage to the lesser gods of wanderlust.

Silly dreams, perhaps. I just don't think I would like myself much if I stopped having them. It wouldn't be Hell, if you were able to forget what you have lost.

23) Describe life in as few words as possible:
You had to be there. Even better: "Rinse and Repeat"

24) Define Love:
I think this has been attempted by much greater minds than myself, and I am not sure anyone has ever really gotten it right. For me, it is always the small stuff that flies under the radar. Like how no matter how mad her and I were at each other, our feet always found each others in bed. I have cold hands; I always have. I don't feel them, but I know that they are frigid to other people. She would sometimes take them in hers in an attempt to grant me some of her warmth. I am sure this was not very comfortable for her, but she did it anyways. Have you sonnets and your epics; for me, words will always fail. Love is something to be understood, not defined.

25) Do you have any tattoos?
Yes, one. I have the last stanza of a death poem from one of Saigo Takamori's bodyguards, which runs down my spine, in Japanese it translates to "Everything which has a beginning, has an ending."

26) Do you have any pet peeves?
Oh Boy. I don't think that I have enough paper to answer this one. My major one: People who write me interesting introductory letters, but disappear after I write them back. I mean, why write in the bloody first place? Why get my hopes up? LF, Dr.JM, MT? Any comments on this? I know I can be pretty obnoxious, but I have a hard time believing that I am capable of scaring someone away in just one letter. I am not that skilled.

27) Do you like your handwriting?
Gods, no. It looks vaguely reminiscent of what would happen if you took an ancient form of Sanskrit and ran it through a cuisinart. I practically have to send out my own version of the Rosetta Stone so that people can decipher it. My old, late typewriter helped with this somewhat, though even in life it was unhappy. It was a Korean P.O.S., and apparently was very unsatisfied with its life in America, because it tried to commit suicide at least once a month, which of course necessitated my having to perform emergency surgery. I always had to resist laughing maniacally and screaming, "It's ALIVE!" whenever I did this, as my neighbors think that I am quite crazy enough without that shite.

28) What is your favorite lunch meat?
Turkey, I guess. Mmm turkey. (Insert Homer-esque drooling noises.)

29) Do you use sarcasm?
Me? Never!

30) What is the first thing you notice about people?
Eyes, then hands.

31) Where would you like to vacation?
At this point, I would holiday in the middle of a volcano wearing a gasoline bathing suit if it got me out of Polunsky.

32) What was the last thing you ate?
I skipped breakfast again, so I guess dinner yesterday was some species of culinary abortion consisting of chili-mac and noodles. Convict soylent green. At least its not Vita-Pro. (Google "Texas + VitaPro," for a real life horror story. Synthetic protein pellets which cause boils, diarrhea, and, oh yeah, cancer? Welcome to Texas)

Texas Judge Federal Acquits VitaPro Defendants

33) What are you listening to right now?

34) Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
State Senator John Whitmire. (Lol, Ba-zing!)

35) What was the last movie you watched?
Hmm...I think the last movie I saw before my arrest was Hotel Rwanda. I would have enjoyed it better in English, I think. They did a sorry job of translating it into Spanish, and the guys voice they used for Don Cheadle sounded like a parrot on speed.

36) What books are you currently reading?
Sangharakshita's "Wisdom Beyond Words" and John Polkinghorne's "The Faith of A Physicist."

37) Who is your favorite editorialist?
Well, I've never once disagreed with anything that Leonard Pitts Jr. has ever written, and I think that it is a crime that in Houston he is relegated to the Entertainment section. I like Maureen Down as well, and all the rest of my leftard friends...whom I hope will forgive me when I say that my favorite editorialist is probably George Will. Though I do not always agree with him, he is more often right than wrong. Like the late William F. Buckley, when you do find yourself at odds with George, you better check your facts, because he has most certainly checked his. At least he is honest.

38) Who is your favorite Poet?
T.S. Eliot, I guess. Rumi is really good, too, if you find the right translation.

39) Is there anything that makes you really, really mad on a daily basis?
I take this question to mean events which are beyond the casual nuisances of daily life; so no, not really. No, I lie. There is one thing, though it isn't really every day. Five days a week, I get a copy of the USA today. Next to my Sudoku, they print a picture of missing children. I don't want to look. I try not to look. I always do, though. I am often consumed by a cold, all encompassing, "I-want-to-punch-God-square-in-his-face-and-rain-fire-down-on-the-planet" type of anger. Sometimes I cannot tear myself away for a good half hour, just messed up on some fundamental level I don't even notice most of the day. I wonder if any of the degenerate pedophiles I live with are responsible for any of these names, and once that thought gets in there, I just can't talk to anyone for awhile. Silly, I know. But that stuff messes with me pretty hard. I can't forget their names and faces, sometimes, which makes it really painful when I see their last names repeated. (Like the three missing Brown girls, of Fort Worth, Texas, missing since June 8th. Sawyer. Grayson. Canon WTF is wrong with this country?)

40) If you could be anyone, at any time in history, who would you be?
Me, about 15-years ago.

Well there were more, but I got sick of this about twenty questions ago, so I am throwing in the towel. It is my sincerest wish that 2009 > 2008 for all of you. If you will permit me to get all preachy for a moment, let me say that I know we are going through some tough times as a nation currently. It is very easy to fall into fear-based thought patterns, I know. Just try to remember that there will never be a better time than right now to do something positive for yourself and others. You never know when a single word will start a revolution. My challenge to each of you is to find a cause this year, and volunteer some time each month. Let's fix this mess. Happy New Year!

A few end of the year notes:

If you would like to see an excellent end of the year summary of the Death Penalty in the US, TCADP has provided some good facts HERE.

If you live in Texas, you need to read this, because this blood is on your hands, too.

It is one of my projects in 2009 to translate into Spanish, but until I manage to find the time, my friend Gilmar has an interesting MySpace page for those of you who prefer to read in Spanish. It can be found at: (Link no longer available)

Finally, these guys said it better: (Link no longer available)

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.