Friday, April 24, 2009

Art and Poetry by Eddie D. Howard Jr.

This poem was originally a rap that I made for a young lady that contacted me , just saying thank you because I helped her little brother get on the right track with his life. HE was a part of this program my facility holds that allows me to talk to youth.  She expressed to me that she’s a lesbian and that people, without even knowing her, would judge and discriminate against her.  So I wrote something for her.  Just to let her know she wasn’t alone…

By Eddie D. Howard Jr.

Made this for you, only for you, got at me out the blue
Made me feel like a king, and I didn’t even know you, but I want to
Get to know, and everything about you, cause the same love is
What you chose to, due to the feelings you have inside
And I respect that, cause you told the truth 
and didn’t lie or disguise who you were, so much love – 
And I got a case that’s hotter than a heater 
but I won’t budge, an ex-thug
But I had to keep it real though 
and let you know just how I feel though – 
So hey girl, what’s real though, I mean really real though, 
I mean damn is you down though – 
Cause my feelings inside won’t change though, 
but I wanna earn your trust though – 
- Just me and you though – 
And my word and loyalty is all I got though – 
- Much love - 

This is a poem I made for anybody that has had a relationship ruined because they had to do time in prison.  Or couldn’t find love because they were locked up, because as you know rarely or if ever does someone take time to get to know someone that is behind bars.  They can judge us but never let them bring you down or kill your joy on the inside.

Another Place, Another Time
By Eddie D. Howard Jr.

Another place, another time I don’t know what to do, 
feels like I’m lost inside when I’m stuck on you
But it feels good to me, but I never think of no one else, 
when I’m all alone girl, there’s no one else
Time moves so slow; when I’m not around girl, 
and feeling down, I wonder, do you think of me?
This is a love letter sent out to you girl 
P.S. you’ll never find another love
Another place,, another time, time, time
Girl you know you would be mine, mine miiiine – 
And don’t you know I love yoooou
Right now we just not ready, but I hope you ready soon – 

Another place, another time!

Eddie D. Howard Jr. 129850
Pendleton Correctional Facility 24-4A HCH
4490 West Reformatory Road
Pendleton, IN 46046

Friday, April 17, 2009

Take Four

April 17th 2009 4.15am

Ah, this poor, poor entry. Thrice have I laid pennies upon its lifeless eyes, though I have never given up on reviction. I originally wrote it in mid-January, and it was intercepted by the Gestapo, or whatever you want to call the people who do such things here at the Gulag Polunsky. (That was sort of an ugly mixed metaphor there…I suppose I should have said the KGB to go with the gulag comment…go easy on me, this is my first attempt at writing in months.) When I lived on C-Pod, the shower in my section was schizophrenic, and would cycle warm/cold-hot/cold every half minute or so. Between curses, sighs and shrieks, I sometimes imagined that there existed a room, deep, deep underground wherein scores of grey, stunted gnomes hammered at forges and turned huge rusty valves as an attempt to explain the situation. I could certainly come up with a more logical set of reasons for the insanely maddening water supply problem, but this seemed more fun. Same with the mail. In reality, I am sure that is just some frumpy, tired looking scion of Livingston who tsk-tsk’s her way through my prose and finds them unworthy to taste the free air. (I have an editor! Wow, I’m bigtime now. When do I get my movie deal and my cute starlet wife who will leave me after six months of marriage?) This individual probably even feels she is doing the Right Thing, and thanks American Jesus for the “gift of discernment.” I am sort of used to this by now. That is why I type everything with carbon paper. (Watch them ban carbon paper now.) So, I sent the second copy out on Feb 10th, redated, not redacted. Steeeerike two! “Curious,” thought I. “That has only happened once before.” I sent the last copy off on the first week of March, and it would seem that this, too, has fallen into a black hole. Curiouser and curiouser. I have not gone very much out of my way to bash TDC in any of my entries. I spit the truth, as the homies would say, and there is hardly any need for exaggeration of hyperbole. I possess the blessing of having an opponent who is both prideful and imbecilic, a truly wonderful mixture ripe for derision and parody. The entry in question had very little in the way of negative commentary; indeed, I simply described the ordeal of undertaking a psychological evaluation. The evidence, however, suggests there was something objectionable in the telling. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what that might be.

I must be a closet masochist because here is attempt number four. I have only the most basic of notes from my previous work, which I will supply. I could attempt to rewrite this whole thing as if it were early January, but I don’t really think it is possible to recreate an authentic version of the past, without a tiny fragment of the present sneaking in to give the while think new angles. All history is, revisionist. So, step with me into the past…

Somewhere above me, a cheap halogen light is pulsing. It hurts my eyes to look at it, so I don’t. My vision is all grainy and sort of monochrome, as if I were viewing life through the lens of the
Zapruder film. My attention shifts to the two ominous human-shaped shadows which begin to loom over me, their details washed into obscurity from the backlighting. The shade on the right, the make, I think, reaches into his black, fake leather medicine bag and removes a sharpie marker, and proceeds to draw what feels like a continuous line across my forehead, around my ears, back to center making a sort of equator around my skull.

“Hacksaw,” the voice commands, and I see light glinting off something metallic, the way light suddenly blinds you as you wait for traffic to pass before crossing at an intersection/ The metal smells of copper pennies and, for some reason, cotton candy. Slowly, the teeth bite into my skin and my ears detect an odd sound, sort of like two stones being rubbed together. This is finally followed by a wet sucking noise, and suddenly the top of my head is sitting on the table in front of me. Does my hair really look like that? I wonder. I really need to learn to cut more evenly…

“Well?” says the figure to my left, the female.

Damnit,” breathes the doctor-analog. “You were right, Damn thing’s smaller than an apple.” He grudgingly reaches into his wallet and produces a bill, and before he hands it to her I see the face of Ben Franklin smile back at me, giving me the finger. The female flashes the doctor a “why-do-you-ever-doubt-me” sort of look, and stuffs the bill into her pocket. The two step away for a moment, which causes my vision to blur. When they return, they are both holding metal probes.

Hmm, well let’s see what we’ve got here under the old hood, so to speak.”

My leg starts dancing a jig, suddenly.

“Nope.. not the grey
noodly-looking thingy…try that brown bit, eh?”

I start to sing “Blue Moon” and have the passing thought that it is pretty messed up that what doctors do is called “practice.”

“Nope,…hey, you think if I fiddle around with that little pink bit I can get him to switch to falsetto?”

“Five bucks says you can't.”


ok, maybe it didn’t go down quite like all of that. I really did recently meet with a psychologist and his assistant and the meeting was pretty intense, though no lobotomies were performed. The evaluation lasted all day, and was sort of pleasant, in a DeSadian sort of way. I am not sure how many tests and questions I answered but when it was all said and done, I felt like my head had been run through a meat processor.

I never had any sort of psych evaluation during my trial. All of the nifty little psychological terms you have heard bandied about in the news all stem from the sewer spigot that the mouth of my ADA. None of these were based on anything other than his opinion, a product of his art. Of course, in our beloved country, people can say pretty much whatever they want, and most everyone will believe them, if they say it with enough conviction. That is what happens when a nation of people converts into a flock of sheep. My own trial attorney
didn’t bother with psychology, claiming he didn’t need to worry about that aspect of the situation. In reality, it was really about the money, as it seems to always be with attorneys. Any evaluation would have come out of his retainer. (This is the same reason I didn’t have a mitigation specialist or a second chair attorney, which are both considered necessary for a fair trial, by the way. Of course, I didn’t know that until AFTER I was convicted and began teaching myself the law. Why did I wait until after the trial to learn the law? Because the Fort Bend County Jail closed the Law Library, barring me any access to sources of information which would have allowed me to see what a snake lawyers can be. There is nothing uncommon about this. Fairness in the modern American courtroom is little more than an illusion)

Since my arrival in Livingston, I have been fighting to get some sort of mental health care, but since I am unwilling to cut on myself or others, they are not interesting in hearing from me. My State writ attorney finally did the right thing and arranged a meeting between myself and a psychologist based out of Houston, whom I shall refer to as Dr. H out of respect for his privacy.

It was altogether an odd day. I assumed that I would be meeting this doctor in the visitation room, talking via the normal means of telephone through glass. Living in ad
seg separates you from the world – that is the point. The people who think up such places consider this to be a purely physical chasm, a vital (for them) requirement in modern American prisons. They are not paid to think beyond the more tangible aspects of isolation, and, truthfully, we are a people remarkably adept at ignoring the depths of a pond for the pretty neatness of the surface. Isolation is a cancer, an acid that inevitably eats its way down into your heart. You don’t always notice how deep it has etched its way inside you, which if fortunate, in my mind. If you realized all the time that the bars and steel you hate so much have actually become necessary for you to function, you would lose it even quicker. I got a taste of this when I shown into the small 10 foot by 10 foot “contact” visit room instead of the normal booths. A quick kneel to undo the cuffs through the bean-chute, and I was in an open room with two other human beings. No chasm. No glass. I didn’t know what to do. Do I shake hands? Is that the proper decorum, said the old me, who was so concerned with such things. Do they want to touch me? Do I dare stick my hand out, to hope to feel another persons skin against my own? What if they just look at me, and ask me to sit down? In the end, I sat there looking down at my shoes for a moment, and then chanced it. First the female assistant, who did not hesitate. Cold hand meets warm skin meets…touch Dr. H followed, though he did not stand. I walked around the small fake wood circular table and sat, my leg irons clinking. I sat, and sat, and sat, and couldn’t make my tongue or my brain answer some very direct and simple questions. It is difficult for me to explain this to you, or to myself. Life here…the only time you are face to face with anyone is when they take you to shower, or when they are shaking you down. You come to associate face-to-face contact with violence, with authority, with all manner of negative situations. There is YOU, and there is THEM, and after a while this division becomes permanently hardwired into you. I felt angry, so unbelievably angry, and yet I couldn’t identify the cause or the reason. Just anger. I was finally able to explain some of my difficulties, though I do not think either the doctor or his assistant really understood. This is not really an environment upon which many experiments are conducted, so it really isn’t their fault that they didn’t understand the effects it has had on me. It is a terribly fucked up thing to realize you suddenly have the ability to fly, only to need the safety of the cocoon in order to survive.

The session lasted all day, and it is my intention that one day I will be able to share the findings here, if I ever get them. I am not sure that such a thing will be good for me or not, but I feel it is necessary if I am to live up to my pledge of transparency. Should be an interesting read.

It’s been nearly a week since I met with Dr. H. Since then, I’
ve been feeling very disconnected. I can't write. I can't play chess. I feel like some vital piece of my inner self my aenima has been shown to me in a passing reflection, and it is uglyuglyugly. I am pretty good at beating up on myself and I did engage in a little of this over some of the revelations that I have had the past few nights. Maybe I don’t do this as much as I used to, which gives me some hope, but I doubt I will ever learn to be much of an optimist when it comes to the subject of me or my worth. I have been told by many, many people that I do not always explain myself well. True, true. Sometimes this is sue to a simple lack of ability, though more often it is a product of a certain belief that I have always held: I don’t like to give up the game in one sitting. I never thought there should be handy answer sheets when it comes to people. In this age where everybody tells everybody everything about themselves on Facebook, I guess I prefer the older methods of getting to know someone over time. I think I am guilty, however, of taking this to an extreme. I like to set out some hints, and see who will do the work necessary to understand me. I have identified this as a product of my rather identity-less youth, where I was always very observant to the minutiae of details which people unwittingly broadcast. This was done out of a desire to fit in, or an attempt at emulation. The product, I think, was inevitable: I am very, very good at reading people. I always wanted someone to put the time and effort into me that I put into them. People don’t work like that, though, I’ve come to be comfortable with the simple truth that I will never be as interesting to humanity as humanity if to me. Nevertheless, I still have the habit of dangling the carrot out there, so to speak, instead of just saying what I mean.

…and now back to the present.

I think in the original three versions, I went on to discuss a few additional odd points of the map of my tame (or not so tame) pathologies. I no longer have any of that material, but I don’t suppose it matters. I know m. I guess what is most interesting to me at first glance is that the funk of January has decided to unpack and chill for a while. The resistance to writing that I felt in January has gotten on the juice, and now I can't push around as I used to. I actually quit chess, for good, I think. Even my letters have suffered. I just have had zero desire to touch pencil to paper the last few months. I’
ve rationalized it in all manner of ways, sure. First I said to myself, “Ok. I’m depressed.” For whatever reason, I can sympathise when these words come out of someone else’s mouth, but when I say them, I just want to punch myself. After I had dismissed depressions, I settled on a policy of “MB6 isn’t making any difference, so I may as well not bother” to justify my lack of creativity. It is somewhat true that a large portion of the attention I get is negative, and it is easy to slip into the belief that my life might be a great deal easier if I took this site down. Case in point: some individuals out there have decided it is ever-so-much fun to call up to the unit (anonymously, of course), and pitch the story that I am calling them on a cell phone “right this minute!” You can probably imagine the carnage this produces without my help. They instantly come to hit me, hard. CS/CN has, body armor, the whole bit. Eight times at the point of writing this, though I do not doubt that by the time you read this, that number will be higher. Now, sure, a logical and rational individual might have figured out by this point that these calls are bullshit. I believe they have. It’s just…it’s a letter of carte blanche ok? Permission to do what they want, which is to destroy. They don’t like me very much, and that is enough. It is sort of rewarding to see their looks of utter dejection as they leave my cell bereft of the victory of finding a cell phone or a bazooka. Ah, but they have their revenge, even in this. They didn’t get all duded up for the hoedown to leave with nothing. They confiscated my radio a while back, knowing full well they don’t have any in stock at commissary, and will not until mid to late summer. They took my paint and I was written a ridiculously petty case for possession of said paint. That one stung a bit. My father is getting married May 9th, and I had finished half of a painting as a gift for him and his fiancée Tanya. It was the only thing of value I could offer them, and now that too is deprived of me. Lost some books and clothes and some letters and food. Some legal work.

Click to read the Disciplinary Report Over the Paint

I hope that whichever of you Pro-DP groups is responsible for this is pleased with yourselves. Go home and gather the children about you, that you might regale them with the story of how you, Mistress Justice, personally ruined the week of a nasty convict. I am sure they will love you and stand in utter awe of your exceptional moral superiority. Tell it to your Bible study group, too, in the pious tones of self-satisfaction you undoubtedly feel. You got down on me for a while. Kept me from writing for more than a month. Gold star for you. I guess this is the point where I am supposed to cuss you out, or whatever. Shrug. I killed a mosquito in my cell today. I care as much for your lame antics as I did for the presence of that mosquito. You, quite simply, are not even an annoyance to me. So thanks for the personal evolution. Continue to do your thing. I’m not sure if my writing is a complete and total waste of time and effort on you,
Americaland. It might be. But it sort of pleases me to be a thorn, so I guess I will keep at it. And so I write.

Back to the psych stuff, I also get bored very easily. I really dislike this about myself. I will give my attention to something, and it if does not excite me, I dismiss it quickly. Books, games, classes, whatever. In my previous life, women. A lot of women. I think I’
ve gotten a little better about this tendency, though, in my time here. Due to the still lingering effects of good old GW’s Reign of Error, the recession has pretty much killed of my attempts to finish my Bachelors. So, I rolled with the punches and signed up for a correspondence paralegal course.. it is a very weird and wonderful feeling to be tested again. You have two years to complete the 32 lessons, but since I no longer have a radio, I am on pace to finish in about six months. Maybe sooner. I like being a student again. I wonder why I never had this feeling of wonder before in my classes? I wish I could help some of the other men to feel this way. It would do so many of them so much good, to have a set of goals set before them, and to reach them. What a waste.

In addition to my resistance to boredom, I also tend to react strongly, violently even, if I feel I am being controlled. I will do myself serious damage just to feel there are no marionette lines attached to my arms and legs. Not only am I concerned with these strings being attached to people, but also to ideas, “weaknesses.” Awhile back, I commented that I had fewer hairs on my head than I used to. I said this mainly as an attempt to make light of the situation, something I tend to do often (
vis a vis, my lame opening vignette, where my brain is probed). But, the initial joking thought led to feelings of vanity, on a major scale. You wouldn’t think vanity could exist in prison, but you would be wrong. It gets intensified. There more I begin to check my reflection out in the mirror, the more pissed I got at my own stupid behaviour. I mean, in the Himalayan range of possible sins, vanity really is a puny, pathetic like molehill, is it not? I should be better than this, I thought. So, I did what I felt was my only option, and dropkicked my vanity right in the face and shaved my head. I know I look ridiculous. I do. But I also know I feel less imbued with weakness, in some weird way. Now I don’t have to notice how much hair I have – or don’t have – on my head, and I don’t have to listen to the little voice that tells me I am getting ugly, because I’m already there, baby.

You will forgive my little eccentricities, surely? I don’t think any of you have any concept of what living here does to you. Sometimes my hands start to shake, and I don’t know why. I often have this intense desire to talk to someone, anyone, sometimes myself, even though I generally feel that words are a waste of energy. Such dichotomies disturb me, but this is what I feel. I pace. A lot. Four steps forwards, four back. Rarely, I even get this insane desire to bash my head against the concrete wall, and I don’t know why. A friend sent me an article recently written in the New Yorker (yeah, yeah, I know…just give it a shot, you right-field loving boobs) on the subject of isolation. It made me feel a lot better to know that the insanity I feel sometimes is simply a function of my humanity, not something specific to me. It is interesting to note that so much of the behaviour described in the article is endemic here. It is also interesting to note, in the case of
Dellelo, that he had a television, radio, and access to phones. In other words, inmates in Texas in the 21st century are treated far worse than inmates in the Northeast in the 1960s, rejecting the notion that the South is following the rest of the world towards a more humanitarian future. I have been locked up for 43 months now, and have been in isolation for more than 32 of them. Messed up is, it turns out, perfectly normal. Whew. I will link this article at the end of this entry for you to peruse at your leisure.

Even though I still have yet to see the psych evaluation, the most troubling piece of the Thomas jigsaw puzzle, to me, is my ability to disconnect from things. “Aloof” is how most people from my past life describe me. I’ve always been this way. Even when I was younger, I had a difficult time connecting with people, with trusting them. I don’t know why. I want to know why. All it takes is one simple act of what I perceive to be betrayal, and you are gone from my life. I hate this about myself, but I don’t know what to do about it. This infects everything. Friendships. Religion. Love. People seem to think that I do not feel, but they are wrong. I feel everything. Too much. I get overloaded, and only then do I withdraw. I always have. My real questions is not why I do this, I guess. My real question is: how do you not? Just a casual glance at today’s newspaper shows me countless images of war, murder, rape, genocide, disease crazy religious idiots running amok (“Quantus tremor est futurus, quando judex est venturus, cuncta stricte discussurus”), politicians lying, priests lying, everybody lying, natural disasters, mors certa, vita incerta, commodity traders behaving immorally, and on and on and fucking on. How do you take it? No one ever noticed that I never ate my dinner when I was younger when we watched the news at the table. How can you look at images of jagged footprints made by the bomb-gods, the facades of buildings peeled back like dollhouses, the discarded bodies of children, red everywhere, red red red, while from a minaret, the khoja calls the faithful to evening prayer, and then you disclaim, “Oh, how awful,” and immediately go back to warming up your hippie organic bullshit television dinner? How do you not let it inside you? You perform some sort of emotional legerdemain, and are instantly able to move on with life, still concerned about the bloody office picnic, while I am still trying to figure out the trick, still looking back, like Lots wife. And like her, too, I get obliterated. How do you allow yourself to feel shocked, time and time again, without being eroded down to a nub? Don’t tell me you are shocked by my actions, or by the actions of anyone else, for that matter, because I do not believe you. If you are truly amazed by anything we humans can do to one another by this point, you are an imbecile who lives your life by burying your head in the sand. Look at your world, and stop closing your damned eyes. I never shut mine growing up, never, and I promise you, if you really look, if you really look deep into the pond, the bodies you see chained down and decaying in the muck will drown out your reflection. You will learn to hate the world just as much as I did, and do still when I bother to look at it. Nobody does the one-liner better than Nietzsche. He has done so many good ones to choose from; never mind he was a complete nutter. One of my favourites translates to something like: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” The world is a horrible beast, and I tried to understand it. And it drove me mad. I’m really not that hard to understand, if you are paying attention. Not that hard at all.

I think this entry has gotten away from met put the stick down and handed you more of the carrot than I have ever done, or intended to do. Not sure why I felt it so necessary to suddenly saw straight into the marrow there. So tired, de repente. All bs aside, I am sure that some of the things I say or so have you shaking your heads, I have a rhetorical question for you, which I have asked before, I think. The thought of you really giving it some more thought is something of a salve to me, though. Do you really think you could handle all of this better than I have?

“Those who have put out the peoples eyes, reproach them of their blindness”
John Milton

Click HERE to read an interesting commentary on
death row lawyers getting paid while messing up

Death Penalty by State (as at April 2009)

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
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