Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 12

by "Old School"

Young Man,

I know this rude but I don’t want to tell you my name. I don’t like to write it no how in kites cause lots of them get read by the laws and then they put it in they files. You can just call me Old School. That been my name forever cuz I been old forever.

I been thinking about what to write you since I saw you pull up and this young cracka been bugging us to write you and its hard to know what to say. You can’t describe this farm. It is so hateful and so cruel that people always be thinking I spinning game when I try. Isn’t no game young buck. This all you got left in front of you. Truth is I been locked up so long I cant remember no other life no more. It hurt to try.

Truth is ugly. I’m scared. All the time. If that was my punishment then I say they doin it right. I ain't proud of what I did but if the police had done they job then it wouldna been up to me to solve that problem. I ain’t sayin that some people just need killin but the police knew that man was doin wrong on the street and they just sat back and did nothin. So now I’m here for doin what any parent would have done but I don’t know what happen to my courage. It all gone. Every damn day I’m scared. I ain’t been to recreation in 7 or 8 years. It be filthy with germ out there and when you come out yo house the laws can go in-there and do heaven knows what. Maybe put cameras and microphones in yo house. Sometimes they will crawl in the pipe chase and talk in the vents like they is a demon and try to set people off. I seen it many time. I only shower one time a month if then. I don’t like livin like this but that water get me sick it infected with somethin. Sometime they take my towel when I in there so I just drip and then catch a cold or leave me in there for more than an hour. They know my knees is bad so I have to sit on they moldy floors and I ends up dirtier than I was when I went in. They do this cuz they know I ain’t gonna do nothin to them. I’m too old for games and violence and they know that. You will see for yourself young buck.

I had me lots of friends once. Out in the world people liked me and they sent me letters thankin me for what I done and sayin they gonna take care of me forever. You gots to try to hang on to yo friend and family as long as you can because they all gonna go one day and then you be like me. This place is bad but it worse when you ain’t got no bread for toothpaste or soap or food to replace they food. I used to have me lots of friends back with us on the Row but they most dead now. They done killed more than 350 mens in my time here. 350 young man. You can’t know what that is like so I wont even try to tell you. My memory not as good as it once was but I still recall most of them. Most were my friends. Some were hard men but they was made harder by this place and only 3 of them was what I would call evil. All the rest coulda done fine in prison and then get released. I don’t feel nothin when I think of they names. I can’t feel nothin no more about much anything, cept to feel scared all the time.

Cuz there ain’t no gettin out. One of my last friends was Rocky. He went bad there at the end not comin out his house and not even wantin to see his kids. They gave him a life sentence but nobody know where he at. His family can’t find him and nobody here no where he at. It like he got buried already. Even if you get a life sentence you ain’t getting out. Ain’t no parole for us. Even if they was you think anybody gonna be waitin for you at them gates? You walk out alone and the world done changed and you get on a bus and go where? Ain’t no world left for you out there.

I don’t know what advice to give you young man. They is going to make you a monster it happens to most. Monster or crazy like me. Or dead. Lots of different types of crazy back here but only one kind of dead. Those is yo choices. I should have killed myself when they move us over to Polunsky. We knewed it was bad the way they clamped down on the chains so we couldn’t feel our hands and how they make us go neckid everywhere. Now I too scared.

I don’t know if God is real no more or what he gonna do to me if I kill myself. They always say that a sin in church but they never seen this place and now there ain’t no real churchman to ask. The preachas here is all white and ain’t gonna waste no time on no old nigga like me cept to tell me to change my ways like I can do it all so easy like. Maybe they right. I’m too scared to find out and too scared to stay living.

Watch they food. You see what look like gasoline floatin on a water puddle on top of them green beans? That some kind of poison. Every time I eat they vegetables I get tired and like I ain’t got no cares. That make it easy to push you around get you to fall in line. They want you like a sheep. That why they feed you breakfast at 3 in the mornin and slam them doors all night so you can’t get no rest. We used to work here on the Row. That the last time I slept good cause I’m the kind of man that likes to put my hands to use. I been workin since I was 12 and my hands is still good and strong and don’t shake none. I worked in the garment factory on Ellis Unit in the old days. I was so good with them clippers that when I see an officer with a shirt or pants that was too big I would fix them for free and it looked like they shirt was made just for them. They would sometimes buy me some food and thank me for real like we was just two people for real people not in prison. That was the last time any of these laws ever smile at me or look at me like I was more than some run down nigga. These days ain’t no work. They always say in that we can get clemency but how that work when they ain’t no programs or church and when you alone in a box all day? Ain’t nobody ever explain that.

I wish I could give you some good words young man. I’m too old and rusty for that. I know some of you is tryin to better yourself but it just don’t matter none now. Ain’t no better or worse. They all want all of us dead and that is what they gonna get. All I can tell you is that the razor blades is dull but they sharp Enough. I wish I had the courage but maybe you is stronger than me. I’m sorry.

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Art by Jeremy Tucker

Jeremy Tucker 1922918
Ellis Unit
1697 FM 980
Huntsville, TX 77343

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Poetry by Barry Woods

So I Could Live Free

My ode to Mother Pollard and Hugo “Yogi” Parnell. 

By Barry Woods

They walked a country mile so I could be free. 

With blisters and sores covering their feets they walked so I could live free. 

With their heads held high they marched on with pride so I could live free.

They sacrificed their lives, their beautiful Black skin, for equality they died, 

The lynchings, burnings, bombings, beatings, dog bites and shootings

They walked on with pride, 

For at the end of the road is where Equality and Justice resides, 

They walked so I could live free. 

They walked so I could be free and, in their walking,, they instilled a strength in me, 

A sense of pride, self-love and determination that won’t allow me to rest my tired feets so we can all live free. 

My feet is tired, but my soul is rested.

Barry Woods D30424
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7500 A-4-126
Crescent City, CA 95532-7000

Avid reader and chess player presently working toward a high school diploma. Discovered writing and the power of words and would like to share my thoughts with the world. I am a healthy inspired person who believes that I have the ability to change my disposition and add positively to the world and help improve mankind. I have been incarcerated since 1989, on my journey through life I have learnt to look beyond my unpleasant disposition and at what I can do for a better future for myself and society and voice is a powerful tool when we put truth behind ours. I am inspired to write to show the world what a man can do when he finds himself. I would enjoy sharing thoughts with the outside world as I continue with my growth and rehabilitation in preparation for my freedom. Feel free to share your words with me as I am unable to receive Email. You will have to use Snail Mail if you’re interested with sharing your thoughts with me and reading mine. I thank you for allowing me to share this platform with you and I extend my gratitude and I hope that you enjoy these pieces. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 11

by Juan Martin Garcia #999360

Hello New Boot,

I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Juan. I am from Houston, Texas and have been locked up on this case since I was 18 years old. I am now 30, an old man by the standards of this place. How time flies, I wasn’t going to send you anything at first, but I talked to the vato that is organizing this, so I am hoping and praying that you will take a minute to listen to me and understand what I am writing to you.

You are going to learn about pain here, the kind you never knew existed. I am a Daddy of three monsters, some of the biggest monsters ever born, so I am glad that I am locked up. J I am just pulling your leg, of course. I have been away from them for so long. I can’t lie, it really does hurt to be apart from them but all make our choices and our mistakes when we are young, and now I have to see my daughters and my son call some other mother-&#$*#$#er Daddy. It’s not just us that pays. Everyone pays with you, and the fact that you see this is proof that you aren’t the cold-blooded killer that the outside world says of you. People can sentence another to die only if they think he isn’t human, so the only thing a prosecutor ever has to do is make you a dog.
No, dogs get national campaigns to save them from the pound. They just have to make you into something that can be killed free of guilt. That’s all.

They don’t want to hear about the hells of your childhood, the rough life you had and it makes me so mad that I never tried to get help, maybe I would still be out there, who knows. Well friend I don’t have any right to tell you exactly how to live, but maybe I can help you from making some of the same foolish mistakes that I did. Maybe you can then tell them to someone out there in the world. Some people here are going to tell you lies just to see how you act. First, trust your own. Then you can watch and see which people are respected by all the races. There aren’t many, but they do exist. I remember when I got here a homeboy from the world helped me out "Johnnie Bernal" he sent me five soups that day which was Wednesday June 21st, 2000 and I was told very few things about how to act. I just sat back and looked at how each day was and just made each day go the way I wanted it to go because yeah we do have a choice on how each day goes here. It’s just you and that cell, all day. Nobody to tell you shit really but you got to fill in the blanks you know what I’m saying? You are going to have to deal with the officials mess a lot of the time but that is prison. Some of them will test you to see if you are what the courts say you are. They think they tough and they want to see who is tougher. You have to think about whether you care what these people think about you or do I care about what my kids think. Sometimes I get mad at them treating me like this and I just want to fix the problem myself but then I put myself to think why should I give them what they want, they get to go home at the end of the day, that’s if nothing happens to them, but you see this place is all I will ever know so I got to make it mine somehow. You can’t do that if you are fighting all the time . It will always be theirs.

So I just try to keep to myself so I don’t make any mistakes that I will have to pay for but I do make known that I am not someone to mess with because if you don’t these animals will always take kindness for weakness and you will get hurt. If you do something all they will say is that you are a killer and can never change but they never explain the ten things that lead up to what you did. They just want to show that you should be in here even if you is innocent of the crime you were convicted for. It doesn’t matter to some of these people. They have parties when some of us get killed at bars and at apartments. When you leave to go to Huntsville to get killed, they line up out back by the loading dock and smile at you as you take your last walk like it’s a parade.

These people give you food that would make your dog talk back to you but when people come here to check upon things we eat ok with real meat and sometimes cake. Many of us don’t get no money from no one so we have to eat just what they give us. You just have to try to make do ok, I didn’t always have to eat this way but used to have a lady I called my "Baby Blue Eyes" that took care of me until she died. Most people will write for a few and then burn off but you see it hurts them too much to see anyone like this. Then again there are also people here who don’t give a fuck and just want to take all they can from people so they mess up our reputations for everyone. It only takes one or two to paint us all with a single brush you know?

So use your head and don’t sleep walk because if you do they will take all you got. If you don’t try to change you wasted your chance at this new life. Take the time to see how much more life can be if you just be your own man and don’t listen to others that just want to see you pulled down to their level. They think that they are better than you but believe me I know it’s that they are not sure with their selves and because they have never taken a look at who they really are.

You have to find some reason to be good. I use the Good Lord for this but yeah I sometimes think that he has left me to die and to put up with the games in this world but it’s because I’m not listening to my heart because the one that walks with the Lord knows that he does not use voices to talk to us but the heart. I am not trying to make myself seem like one of the guys that tries to preach in the dayroom they are trying to convince God to save them and maybe get one of the guards to write a letter of clemency. I do have a really bad mouth at times :) and really watch what I say. So the bible is a tool to help us learn how to use Gods love and advice and not to misunderstand. So I have tried to use it all of my life to get my mother and may he rest my dad to love me for who I am and not for the person that they wish I would have became but it seems like all I ever did was just waste my time and get hurt, and if you know and really understand what I am saying you will know that maybe we just have to keep trying even when it seems like there’s no point.

Well I hope that you were able to understand what l was trying to say, yeah I may have made you laugh by what I said or how I said it but this letter is to show you that I am human and I do make mistakes in life some that I will have to die with for the rest of my life. Some I hope never to relive.

You may think about ending your appeals and that is up to you. I did try to do this in 2008 and still want to but I can’t take seeing women cry which my sisters did. I will never cry again but that doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt or feel pain but it is not right for me to make others feel pain for my decisions. So think about them for a change.

So take care and keep in mind that life is what you make of it and it will only work if you never give up on making it work.

Take care,

Bear & Heart on Fabric by Juan Garcia

Juan can be written to:

Juan Garcia #999360
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77350

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 10

by Big Rob

Part 9 can be seen here

Dear Young Man,

After being here for only 6 1/2 years I was given an execution date and on this day a new guy came in he was put in the cage next to me and to my surprise he was only 18. You look to be about the same age. Though everyone looks young to me now. When I saw you, I thought to myself how can a life so young end this way? What type of person would sentence someone so young to be murdered? You have your whole life ahead of you and for some reason it can now be cut short. As I continued to think reality hit in a matter of days I will meet my maker so what could I do with the precious time I have left? I decided to write you, just as I did that other young man, and then I got my things in order. I will be buried a few lots away from my lovely mother. Easy to think about at my age, but almost impossible for someone so young. What could be going through your mind at a time like this?

Whatever it is, it can’t be easy for someone so young, when life just seems different. Maybe some people are adults at 18, but I wasn’t and I don’t think many here were either. Some of us take a really long time to mature. I remember when I got here a few guys talked to me "the ropes" and I want to do some of that with you. I could sense that other young man was afraid, way back in ‘03, and I bet you are too. I told him that we must live in order to die its the process of life. As I talked to him, I told him being here is not all about him, and it’s not all about you neither. You got family and friends and supporters and it’s your job to let them know that you are alright and to give them strength. You have to explain to them the appeal process through each stage, so it don’t seem like voodoo, even if it is. Make sure everyone understands that you now have to try to live life to the fullest with what you got. You are going to need help or you will live worse than a mangy dog. Most important, you need to grow closer to the Lord and always know with God all things are possible.

Stay close to your lawyers and ask questions and keep copies of all your letters. They may be fighting for you, but they ain’t always on your side, dig? No matter how small your questions is, ask them. Learn as much of the law as you can and don’t depend totally on others. Most lawyers are in this for the money but you got to be in this for your life.

Don’t let the stress of this place get the better of you. If you are not careful it will suck you in and you will become an animal, totally split apart. Being apart means that you will think the most important things are commissary, recreation, jack books etc. You become lost so stay on top of yourself mentally and physically with these few words of wisdom I hope that you will be able to maintain. But most importantly I pray that you get some action and will get the chance to earn your redemption in this life and to pass on the wisdom that each day of living has to offer.

With Respect,
Big Rob

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Friday, September 17, 2010

Letter to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 9

by David Renteria #999460

Part 8 can be seen here

Dear X,

How are you doing señor? My name is David S. Renteria, you can just call me David. Understand you just got here to Death Row or as it is euphemistically referred to as “The Row”. I will have been here seven years come this November (2010) and in that time I’ve experienced, and witnessed events that never in my life I ever thought I would. There are those here who have upwards of three times that time and many who have just about the same or less. As you are new here and perhaps your first time in prison (as I was), I wish to share with you a part of my encounter here in the hopes that maybe it will serve you as you navigate through this chapter in your life. Please, I do not presume to dictate to you what you should do nor do I deem myself a sage, guru or “know-it-all” in all matters Death Row or what have you. Just a simple man who desires to help a brother in need – that is all. So, with all due respect…

Now, as you go through your time here, you will see that there exists a somewhat diversity of mindsets, points of view, backgrounds/walks of like and yes – moralities in this environment. This includes now only the inmates here (or “offenders” as the nomenclature set forth by the Texas penal system) but also the staff with whom we interact with on a daily basis. But my focus will be on this side of the locked doors for they will be the ones you will “reside” with 24/7. I am sure that many will offer you their advice, as I am, and out of all that, you will find bits and pieces of information that may be of use to you. I caution you to always look to the source of the information received because unfortunately there are quite a bit of individuals whose maturity is found wanting and as such, their input or example may only add to the burden(s) already upon you. Believe me señor, you’ll have enough on your plate already than to be adding more to your grief. And so, with humility I impart upon you the one piece of counsel that I feel will be of utmost necessity in this environment.

I opened my letter to you with “how are you doing?” In a world of civility, respect of being and where an individual is seen as a human being, this question may be rhetorical at times. “Fine, how are you?” or “Good, thank you for asking”, are perhaps the standard fare to this question. But in here, these replies cannot be given in such a cursory manner. Death Row is a world of degradation, oppression and subjugation. Forgive me if I sound a bit morose. My intention is to make you aware of what we are up against here not to dishearten you to a point of despondency but so that you can readily face the elements head on and not be easily ambushed by them. How is that done?

My friend, there exists certain fundamentals that will help you weather the storm. Things such as faith, hope, courage, integrity and above all – PEACE. As I have made mention to those I have had the privilege to speak with, you must envision yourself on an island, all alone save the natural surroundings that accompany a deserted island. Will you be able to stand? And, you know what? In essence, in physicality, you are on an island here. We are devoid of any human contact and with very limited interaction with others. We are in a climate of extreme sensory deprivation and at other times, sensory overload (although this may be as a result of the extreme deprivation). On an island, you only have with you what have you brought. There is potential to cultivate and further develop in a positive manner those attributes/skills that will help you see this experience thought the end (whatever that may be) with a degree of dignity and worth. You will meet with a number who have the attitude, “Why? If I’m gonna doe anyhow, why bother?” I’ll tell you why my friend, because it is the base and natural instinct of ALL living organisms to survive, to keep on even when faced with dire circumstances! As hackneyed and as trite as it may sound – Dum Spiro, Spero – While I breathe, I hope! There is no equivocation to that statement; it is self-explanatory, simple and one by which I live by. It’s not over until it’s over señor and until then, what’s going to determine your quality of life and your state of being is how you meet each and every day. Every time you are able to wake from sleep, open your eyes and get up from your bunk (bed) is another opportunity. An opportunity to make this day a little better then the previous; an opportunity to further develop – an idea, a drawing, vocabulary – anything – that you started before; an opportunity to make emphatic changes in your life :-) I’m a big movie buff and a movie I liked very much was Groundhog Day with Bill Murray (you may note references peppered throughout this letter of movies). Well, anyway, along the plot lines, Murray’s character gets stuck in some sort of anomaly where everyday he keeps waking up to the same calendar day – Groundhog Day. Well, yes in the beginning, he gives in to his impish impulses and goes about creating all sorts of havoc knowing full well there would be no “apparent” consequences of his behavior. But, as the repetitive days wear on, he quickly grows tired of the calamities he brings about for they soon bring a sense a vacuum; a feeling of unfulfillment arises. So what does he do? He starts to go through his days initiating acts of kindness and benevolence slowly but surely noting that days like these fill the emptiness he feels until finally he wakes up to the next calendar day thus making a progression in his life in more ways than one. And so it is, or can be rather, with your days here. While external factors can or may influence your being, you ultimately hold the key to how it will affect you. How is that done?

At the risk of proselytizing – so be it - a key component is going to be in how and/or what kind of relationship you maintain with God, yourself, your family and loved ones. I will venture however, that the most significant of all these, and essential, will be your friendship with God and eventually, yourself. Family and friends unfortunately may dissipate with time (and this many times is a case of “reaping what is sown” – but that is another discourse) but never the less, even in the best of circumstances it is the day-to-day events that will call upon your spiritual reserve and constitution as a Son of God. When you have that peace that comes as a result of daily obeisance to our Heavenly Father you will be fortified to withstand the winds of uncertainty; the drowning waters of self-doubt. I come here before you my friend, to give witness to the fact that His presence makes a notable and unmistaken difference in your life. Does this mean that because you maintain a path toward God that you will no longer experience the ills of this place? That all will be peachy-keen, rose gardens and every day filled with rainbows? No, that I cannot day nor will I promise/. Ironically enough, it may feel as though all evil comes descended upon you at times. The difference is going to be in this: you will now have the tools, armor, skills and most certainly, protection to face these tribulations in your day-to-day life; to come out as virtually unscathed as possible. You will “not be given more than you can handle”. That is a promise by Him that makes all things possible and nothing is impossible for Him. You will not be alone. Once you establish this open channel with God and walk with him, it is then that you can confidently dig your heels in to confront with courage all that comes your way; it is in this you will definitely avow – DUM SPIRO, SPERO!!

I share all this with you señor because of what I seen people go through here. There are those whose reliance on a game of chess, dominoes and especially Dungeons & Dragons is what defines their existence. I saw a person so distressed by the fact that no one played D & D in our section that you could literally see the torment on his face. There are others whose happiness is directly seasonal, e.g football; (as is the case right now September 2010), basketball, etc. How can anyone put so much stock on something so fleeting, so trivial, so finite? No sir, you were meant for something greater, something in a class all on its own. Peace of mind has no price, and its only counter balance is utter chaos which you will have if you do not get to setting things right in your life.

Every man dies, not every man truly lives. And it is how we meet that end that makes a difference. Always remember that what we do in life, echoes in Eternity. We never know what is going to happen tomorrow; yesterday is past and out of our influence. So, what do we do now, here, today? That is a decision you must determinate as I do every day. I hope that you do so as a son of God, a man of virtue so that when you are asked, “How are you doing?” in this place, you can assuredly reply, “I’m doing good!!” Despite where we are at, despite the routine abasements – despite it all, you can rely on the fact:


David Renteria #999460

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poetry by Amber Fayfox Kim

January Sunrise
by Amber Fayefox Kim

My breath clouds the chilly winter air in the indigo world that exists in that precious moment just before the sun breaks the horizon. I can feel icy tentacles of cold invading my toes, fingers, and drafty jacket. A sliver of ocher sunlight stains the icicles on the razor wire red, a macabre prophecy for any foolish enough to approach. Clouds and snowdrifts dress themselves in oranges, violets, and indescribable greens in anticipation of the storm which is certain to come before nightfall. Eventually that great sphere of flame clears the horizon and forces me to turn away from the sight. Blueish afterimages burned into my retina the only thing not blurred by my tears. I try to blink them away and find the crystals frozen to my eyelashes. Plucking them with numb fingers brings pain, and clears my head. I resume walking the quarter mile circle that is the perimeter of my current cage with one last glance at the now empty horizon.

Amber Fayefox Kim 315649 (please note that mail must be addressed to "Bryan Kim")
P.O. Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272-0777

Amber is a thirty year old transwoman serving life without the possibility of parole in Washington State. She is an activist, witch, student, writer, and not about to let some middling prison walls stand in the way of her dreams.To learn more about Amber, please check out her blog:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2009/2010 Texas Death Row Religious Landscape Survey

(Admin note: This entry has been delayed for several weeks due to "technical difficulties". I apologise for the delay)

Unlike nearly every other entry on this website, today’s offering is not my fault. Well, mostly not my fault. Like the vast majority of mankind’s triumphs and train wrecks, the blame for this rests solely on the shoulders of a woman. A little over a year ago, I was having a very pleasant visit with a lady friend. The topics of conversation ranged from the mundane to the esoteric, and since my friend is a highly religious individual (Tina – I know, I know, sorry; read “person of deep faith”), the topic of religious beliefs eventually came up. She was a bit horrified to learn that – unlike the prisons she has ministered to back East – Texas Death Row inmates are allowed no access to religious services, and rarely, (if ever) see a chaplain. In frustration, she finally belted out, “Well, then, what do the men believe in?” I gave her a fairly general response, based on pieces of overheard conversations or personal testimonies: mostly Protestants, with some smattering of Catholics and Muslims; varying strengths of conviction, depending upon how close each man was to being exterminated by the State; selective amnesia over most portions of their holy documents, save for the portions which release them from fear or help them deal with life in this carceral nightmare, etc, etc. The visit soon ended, but the question stuck with me, because, in truth, my answer was little better than a cheap approximation or cynical quip. True, some men here do wear their team’s colors on their sleeves, proclaiming at high volume the rightness of their ideological selections (we have more than a handful of “touched by the spirit” day-room ministers here, let me tell you). We all know the type, and I suspect that the percentage of such people in my world is roughly equivalent to that of your own (except here, you cant change the channel). But even if I appreciated the cheap pathos of such displays (I do not), it hardly seems fair that I hyper-generalized everyone here into categories consisting of religious sheep calmly baa-ing their way into oblivion, or dogmatic wolves honing their credibility enhancing displays. In short, I had given a stupid and flippant response to a genuine question and I regretted it. I didn’t have an accurate answer, so, like I said, the question stuck with me.

So, how to answer it? It can be a somewhat delicate operation, asking personal questions in prison. Some are merely suspicious; some take it as an invasion of their privacy. Still, it seemed to me at the time that if I went about it in the right way, certain questions could be asked which would not result in me getting speared, an experience I could rather do without, thank you. I admit, the more I thought about it, the more the little OCD gremlins in my head got worked up into a lather. The summa of about a week of planning was my “2009 Death Row Religious Landscape Survey”, version 1.0, which I began to inflict upon my neighbors over several days in May of 2009, to much fanfare and brief applause.

Ok, no applause, because version 1.0 was an abysmal failure. The reasons for this were entirely my own: I had never undertaken the development of a survey before, and my enthusiasm far outpaced my knowledge and abilities. I stopped administering version 1.0 after only five men, far short of the thirty I had initially set as my goal. Without wasting too much time on unnecessary details, several of the key fatal errors included: giving the survey at high volume while standing on the DAYROOMS to men in nearby cells (a failure not only based on the difficulty of properly communicating the questions and responses, but also dealing with the refusal of some of the men to answer truthfully to questions which might affect their tough-guy images), a great deal of unintentional ambiguity in the questions themselves (which, I later learned after doing some research, was giving my personal, scornful views of some faiths an opportunity to affect the responses, a concept known as “fluidity”, which even works on a sub or unconscious level in the mind of the pollster), and, worst of all, no way to compare the responses of the men with similar answers to people in the freeworld. Without this comparison, my poll lacked a means for any of you to approach it, or to give the answers some context. As I said, version 1.0 was an unmitigated mess.

At least failures have the good grace to show us the path forward. I quickly set out to make version 2.0 both interesting and methodologically correct. To start with, I consulted one of the largest and most respected polling organizations in the country, the Pew Research Center. My friend Eric was able to download and then mail me the results of a massive religion study completed in 2008, called the “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.” You can see the original Pew survey HERE.

Here, I had a much more developed framework for reformulating my own survey. Many of my original sixteen questions (twelve, to be specific) were already included in the Pew study, in some form or fashion. I studied this survey extensively, and then used what I had learned to create a final list of fifty-three questions which I felt would go a long way towards illustrating exactly what the condemned think, apropos the god hypothesis. I decided to make many of my own questions mirror very closely those in the Pew study, so that I could then compare and contrast the views. (There are obvious reasons for wanting to see what similarities and disparities exist between these two groups, but I also had another hypothesis I wanted to test, which I will go into later). Some questions, however, are unique to my survey, especially those pertaining to shifting theological and ontological beliefs as one’s execution date draws near. As you can probably imagine, many of the original Pew questions simple do not apply to individuals living under isolation conditions, and these questions were discarded. (For example, questions revolving around church attendance or the state of our purchasing power have no importance in this context.) In any case, had I made the survey any longer, I doubt I could have forced anyone to participate. All in all, I think I reached a happy Goldilocks medium which is both elucidative and concise.

In the Pew study, there is a nifty little section on methodology, which I read with great gusto, but which turned out to be basically worthless to me. Weighty terms like “Deming algorithms” sound kind of cool (if you are a dork), but are rather worthless when I am having to smuggle my survey from my cell to the dayrooms. What I mean to say is, there is the perfect way of doing something, and then the best way presently available, and I think it would be obvious which direction I was forced to go most of the time. In the end, I decided not to poll anyone from the internal dayrooms; instead, I conducted the entire survey one-on-one in the OUTSIDE REC CAGES which we have access to twice a week. This is the only time in our lives when we are allowed any sort of opportunity to socialize. You are still separated from the other inmate by iron bars and steel mesh, but at least you don’t have to shout at each other to be heard, and there is some small sense of privacy. Getting the guys alone vastly improved the quality of the responses. In the dayrooms, the men had given me fairly boilerplate answers, but outside, they were very enthusiastic about the survey. Like most people, these convicts most want to be heard when they are afraid or confused. I was, and am, impressed with the candor of many, and humbled by the willingness of everyone to participate.

One methodological error that I was never able to correct, however, was a lack of “random” polling. I only had access to the men on A-Pod for this study, so I was limited to roughly 60 individuals. In the end, after refusals, I was able to poll exactly fifty men. I had hoped to reach one hundred, but a long expected cell-migration never materialized, and it simply became too difficult to reach more men than I had already spoken to. Indeed, it took me just over nine months to get that many, and the guards were clearly on to me. Still, fifty represents about one sixth the current Texas Death Row population, so it is a significant sample, by any measure. Honestly, I don’t think a lack of random polling really matters that much, because this is a targeted survey of Death Row inmates, but I wanted to be clear about how I organized this. I was very fortunate to be able to reach the men on Death Watch, with execution dates imminent. To my knowledge, there is absolutely nothing comparable to my survey in existence anywhere, so, errors aside, I think some of you will find it interesting.

As to how well I covered up my own opinions about organized religion, I definitely focused on my poker face during version 2.0. I do not feel that the men felt pressured to answer one way or another. Though I am not shy about commenting about such things online, few people here are aware of my skeptical views, and, as I said, I was always very cognizant of asking the questions free of inflection or emotion. I also asked some final questions about the actual survey itself (which are not included) to test this, and I think I can say with a strong degree of certainty that nearly all of these men would be immensely surprised to learn of my agnostic-deist-Buddhist-secular humanist tendencies. (…WTF do you call that, anyways? Until I can invent a better term, just add me officially to the roles of the CHURCH OF THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER.) In short, I truly believe that the responses are close or exact barometers to what these men really believe. (Or, rather, what they believe they believe…)

Two more short points before I give you the link to the survey: first, I want to thank Kent and Tanya Whitaker for taking the raw data and digitizing it. If the final product impresses you for its aesthetic qualities, it is they who deserve the praise for this, not me. My survey was a rat’s nest of graph paper, and they turned it into something damned impressive. Thanks for humoring me on this, and on all of my other silly little projects.

Secondly, the price: unlike all of my other writings, I am charging USD$5.00 for a digital download of my survey. My reasons are varied: first of all, I spent over two hundred hours on this project, and while I am firmly in the camp who casts a disapproving eye on inmates attempting to make a buck, I don’t think my earning 2 cents an hour is really going to bother anyone. Second, I have been trying to collect funds for my next semester of college correspondence courses for a while now, with only minor success. My goals are very modest in this respect: if I can sell two hundred copies, I will be able to afford another six hours of courses. While I am perfectly aware of how simple it would be to hack me on this, I am hoping you will be honest, and help me pursue the noble goal of educating myself. If you want multiple copies, well, just pay for them and skip your Starbucks tomorrow, please. I also intend to take Kent and Tanya out to dinner for the work they did, and I probably owe the guys at the Apple store’s Genius Bar in Sugarland a round of drinks, too.

Ok, without further ado, HERE you can purchase my study. It will be in PDF format. My intention is to touch on a few of these graphs now, and then slowly talk more about all of them in the future. I also would like to hear your comments/thoughts on why some trends seem to be taking place. Each graph contains quite a bit of information, which should provide some fodder for some good discussions.

So, lets dive right in: below, you will find four sample questions, viewable in PDF format.

GRAPH 1 What was your religious affiliation at the time of your conviction?

GRAPH 2 What is your present religious affiliation if any?

GRAPH 7 Should churches and other houses of worship keep out of political matters or should they express their views on day-to-day social and political questions?

GRAPH 8 Evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on Earth….

What was your religious affiliation at the time of your conviction? - Graph 1

The first and second graphs actually go together, and are amongst the most simple of all the questions. They are important, however, as they lay a framework for understanding all that follows. In the first, we are given a positioning of belief at the time of conviction, i.e., just before the men arrived on Death Row. You will notice a heavy tilting towards Protestant Christianity, particularly of the Baptist variety (this is Texas, after all). Catholics make a strong showing, primarily amongst the Latinos. (A later question explores the relationship of race to religious preference.) This question can be compared to Q16 in the Pew Survey, to see how representative Death Row is as a microcosm of the U.S. The numbers for Protestants in the U.S., for example, hovers around 51.3%, while in my survey they check in at 56%. Catholics polled at 24% in both surveys, so we can see that - at least in some categories – the religious beliefs of Texas Death Row inmates closely mirror those of the general public. (Note: when reading all the graphs, statistics for main categories are pushed to left side of the columns, such as for Mormons or Muslims. If a category has many subgroups, the figures for these subgroups are pushed to the right side of each column, as in for the Methodists or Agnostics. Keep in mind that these subgroups statistics are a part of the main category's numbers.)

What is your present religious affiliation, if any? – Graph 2

Graph 2 presents the religious preferences of the men at the time of the survey, and the disparities between the first and second graphs clearly show the effects of a death sentence on religious faith. As you can see, a series of massive shifts has taken place. Faced with the ultimate punishment, and forced to live under atrocious LIVING CONDITIONS, standard religious positions seem to fare very poorly. Mortal dancer seems to breed introspection, which in turn causes more rigidly dogmatic positions to crumble. As you can see, Protestant Christianity, in particular, suffers from a mass exodus, a trend which is mirrored in the country at large, but clearly accelerated in my study. It would seem that the road to Damascus is, indeed, a two-way street. Certain denominations (such as the Church of Christ, Episcopalians, and the Lutherans) disappear completely from the poll, and these fields are removed from future graphs. Baptist Christianity suffers a major decline, and the reasons for this probably need some special explanation. I suspect that the SBC’s continued (and very vocal) support for state-sanctioned murder has some effect here, as local churches refuse to stand up for the interests of inmate believers. The fact that every single hate letter I have ever heard of was written by a self-professed evangelical certainly influences the beliefs of some of the men in a negative way. Finally all of the chaplains here seem to be Baptists, and - even though I've not even seen one in 18 months – I remember that the last time one came to my cell, it was only to scream about redemption and hellfire, which is enough to make anyone start asking about the Buddha.

To prove that external support/fellowship does have an effect on the men, I give you the case of the Quakers. There were no Quakers in the first graph, but we see that field added in Graph 2, running at 4%. This is due to the fact that the Quakers actively assist several men here, and often come up to the unit to minister to more. People respond to kindness in my world, too, and this effect is quantitatively expressed here.

By and large, these cast-offs from the isles of Christ seem not to have turned their backs on God. You can see how the ranks of certain other faiths were strengthened, such as the Orthodox Christians (two of which were Greek Orthodox, one Eastern Orthodox) and the Buddhists (one of whom seemed to follow some mixture of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism; the two others subscribed to Theravada Buddhism). The Muslims also increased, due in part to a strong African American movement present in most prisons. All of the Muslims in this poll were followers of the Nation of Islam.

Several less conventional faiths also did very well, such as the Wiccans and those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”. These are listed together under the main category of “Other Faiths”, and I do not mean to marginalize them by calling them “Other”; I simply did not know how to classify their very diverse beliefs. There is a Pagan in this group as well, and his responses were particularly interesting, as I was pretty ignorant of the “activities” of the Norse pantheon, pre-survey. That said, his responses were devilishly difficult to fit into my categories; in fact, I had to make some additional column choices, just for him.

By far, however, the category which benefited the most from Christianity's decline was the one I have labeled as the “Unaffiliated”. This trend was mirrored in the Pew Study as well as the “Rise of the Nones”, which was an oft-discussed and debated and fretted over phenomenon in certain circles. This category includes atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, Deists, pantheists (of most stripes but particularly of the Spinoza type), and, most of all, those who simply prefer not to be associated with titles or churches. It would be a mistake to think of the “Nones” as being largely godless, however. Most of them do have faith in something; some of them have systems of belief just as well-developed as the most devout Muslim or Evangelical. They do seem to be more accepting of the beliefs of others, more open to free inquiry, and they all maintained a healthy dislike for religious authority, believing that the clearest way to the Numinous runs not through Mecca, Rome or Pat Robertson, but through themselves. Note that this group almost always polls on the opposing end of the spectrum from the Baptists and Muslims, giving one a snapshot of America in forty years or so.

Should churches and other houses of worship keep out of political matters or should they express their views on day-to-day social and political questions? – Graph 7

This question goes to the heart of just how active churches ought to be in American society. Amongst the Protestants you will detect a trend that seems to run through most of the questions, namely that the Methodists and the Quakers seem to poll in similar ways. Their responses seem to fall under the heading of “liberal” Christianity, and these groups often find themselves in the company of the Buddhists, the “Others”, and the “Nones”. Typically, the Baptists, Pentecostals, and Non-Denominationalists flocked together, especially on social-issues questions. They usually polled in similar fashion to the Muslims and the Mormons. All of these trends are in line with the Pew poll. I did have fewer “Don’t Know” responses in my study, and I am not exactly sure how to explain this. Maybe it is easier to admit ignorance to someone over the phone than in person; perhaps the presence of immediate death forces the men to focus more on some issues; or maybe convicts are just more opinionated than your average citizen (that last one gets my vote). I’d be interested in any theories any of you have on this point.

Evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on Earth… - Graph 8

I particularly enjoyed watching the men mull over the importance of the word “best” in this question. Frankly, I was way off in my expectations on this one. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I am a huge proponent of evolutionary theory. Note, I didn’t say I “believed” in it. Rather, I have studied the evidence, which is incontrovertible, and this is a very different process than simply putting one’s faith in something. If you don’t quite know what you think on this issue, I highly recommend Richard Dawkin’s book “The Greatest Show on Earth” or “Climbing Mount Improbable”.) I really thought I was going to be drowning in a lot of creationist mumbo-jumbo on this one, but I didn’t even need to bring a life preserver. I was really proud of the guys for having done some study on this subject. This one definitely required me to keep my opinions to myself, but I pulled it off. As you can see, a majority of the men preferred the theory of evolution to its alternatives. Compared to the equivalent question in the Pew Study (Q10c), the trends also hew closely to the national model. Evangelical churches, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Muslims tended to fall on the disagree end of the spectrum, while mainline Protestants, Buddhists, the “Others”, and the “Nones” tended to agree. Catholics were all over the map on both surveys, but in the Pew Study the majority leaned in favor of evolution, while in my study, they leaned the other way. I believe the explanation for this is mostly cultural: many of the Catholics in my study were born in countries where the Catholic Church is still very powerful, and where the education systems do not teach Darwin’s theory. This is an interesting question to compare to graph number 24: “Do you think angels and demons are active in the world?” I will touch on this comparison in a later post.

Well let me know what you think of all of this. I know I’m just a loser convict, but I put a lot of work into this project, and I think it answers some questions that nobody has ever even bothered to ask before. I’m actually fairly proud of the final version. Now that I am off Level and back on a regular pod, I have a whole new crop of victims, er, “participants” to pester, so I might try to expand beyond my original fifty responses later this year. It is probably obvious that my main focus here is on how these conditions affect the spiritual lives on the condemned, and what it would mean for a punishment to kill both body and soul (use whatever definition for soul which best floats your boat). My take is, nobody, nobody has the right to make a human being live in such a way that they lose all contact with a god that they have believed in all their lives. Is that happening here? Analyze the results for yourself, and decide.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" He said, "Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.

- Emo Phillips

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poetry by Richard Sean Gross

Light & Time
by Richard Sean Gross

can't see light, so much time
long dark night of the soul
it's not right, so much time
time enough for everything
no more kite, so much time
who can give me a light?

by Richard Sean Gross

they say i dont know what to say
they act like i dont know how to act
they think i don't think
i feel them, but i got this.

by Richard Sean Gross

I, I'm, I'm a, I'm an,
I man, I manage, I'm an age, I'm an agent,
4 change.

A Thing Of Beauty
by Richard Sean Gross

First time in a prison cell
A bare concrete floor and a cinderblock wall
I’m scared, confused, alone with no bail
No lawyer, and no friends at all
There’s a metal toilet and a metal vent
The air is cold and stale

Outside the window, more to the jail
In the concrete courtyard I see a green shoot
Stuck in a crack, a lonely weed
Born of a windblown seed, wall at it’s back
Putting down roots, pushing skyward
It is unloved, unwanted, unneeded, like me
Fighting for life against odds

Determined to grow, thrive in this place
This place of forgotten seeds
This little weed has something to say
“I’m here, I’m alive, get out of my way”
This living beauty doesn’t care it’s in a prison
It found earth, air, and water here
It’s making its way onward, upward

This weed is what I need to see
I have a life to live, stories to tell
I can’t win, I’m guilty as sin, but I’ll grow in this concrete shell
I’m here, I’m alive with a million ideas
I’ll find out what my life is really about
I’ll find a way out.

by Richard Sean Gross

Blind in prison
I cannot see my pen pals
Can’t see the places they describe
Don’t really know where they are
They tell me of experiences I can’t relate to
Limited to last century’s technology
Cloistered in this concrete convent
Never used a cell phone
I want to see the ocean

Prison is blind
They only want your number not your name
Only see your browns not your face
Classified and categorized statistically
Level 3, LIFE, W, M, five-seven
You are a commodity to be shelved
A warehouse of forgotten humanity
I can only describe this to them
My pen pals cannot see it

An essay-poem by Richard Sean Gross

That’s what the menu calls it but it isn’t actually either one
Most certainly not what anyone would call stuffed cabbage
Not what I would label a casserole yet I don’t know what it is
My prison stretches definitions to suit their needs

The menu is full of dishes that sound much better than they taste
Meals that make men go to bed hungry - an unconstitutional punishment
The kind of punishment that turns kids into thieves, then delinquents
Then on through the pipeline to unemployment and incarceration

I worry that someone somewhere thinks the food sounds good
“Oooh, they’re eating Poultry Parmesan and Oriental Poultry Pasta”
“No wonder they keep going back to prison over and over”
“I bet they lay around waiting to be served”

I hear those who say that if people come back to jail, it must be kay
It pains me that people could be so unaware, people who might otherwise care
It’s not that prison is a nice place, it’s that outside’s a rat race
For those who get out it’s hard: No car, no job, no credit card

Everyone who’s leaving says: “This time will be different”
Some say “I won’t do drugs this time” - I believe them
Others say “ I hope I don’t do drugs this time” - I worry
Some are back so fast I should say ‘see ya’ instead of ‘goodbye’

It takes more than jaul to cure addictions
Leaving men hungry doesn’t eliminate want
Incarceration’s isolation exacerbates mental illness
This place isn’t solving the problems that bring people here

Things are not always as they seem
Stuff we’re served ain’t what we ordered
Taxpayers are not well served
Neither at those who eat here

By Richard Sean Gross

A poem to a phoenix rising in Pennsylvania - a place which tries my patience
Blinding white concrete & shiony concertina construct this carceral cathedral
This monument to mass incarceration in it’s twilight
Long delayed & litigated - smaller portions on smaller trays
Costing north of 400 mil. - still not done on arrival
Our most famous resident is Cosby - most guys here are long forgotten
Built for security & isolation not for ease of movement
Waiting at doors opened from afar - nuisance for both staff and resident
Cell lights turned on nocturnally from a distant control
They don’t seem to know just how they want to run it
They’ll figure it out without me - run it without scrutiny
We managed to leave the mice & roaches behind
I’m sure they’re lookin’ for us - I bet they’ll find
This place of no escape

by Richard Sean Gross

Wetzel wanted to close it so bad for so long
Wanted to bury it’s rep, it’s culture, it’s pride
The way it just kind of ran itself
Got rid of protesters, complainers, and troublemakers
It will be different at Phoenix they told us
We will run it like in the mountains they said
Tried to convince us and themselves
Vandalized our meager possessions
As they took us to an unfinished jail
They brought along the same old staff
All their buddies, rats, and bad habits
Bright white concrete and shiny concertina
In the pictures they showed the press
A place is the people who populate it
Things may change but they stay the same
Seven years they planned it’s demise
Yet somehow in some way it did survive
Phoenix has the ghosts of Graterford inside

by Richard Sean Gross

There are people with six figure salaries
Who cough up security protocols
Solving problems that don’t exist
Creating hassles for lower ranks

There are people with 6 figure salaries
Who chisel pennies away from prisoners
Trimming budgets for libraries and programs
Trying to cut as much as they earn

There are people with six figure salaries
Tightening belts for lower officials
While growing fat on tax dollars
Controlling lives of people they don’t see

There are people with 6 figure salaries
Awarding lucrative contracts
To well connected companies
For a free lunch

By Richard Sean Gross

You’ve seen others like it so it shouldn’t be hard to
Picture this car up on blocks in the yard with weeds around
Sixties model rolled off the line shiny new and baby blue
It was cool, fast, im[pulsive - ahead of its time
Alright on the straightaways - loved to hug them curves
Not disciplined for racing - more the awesome party car
It saw some places did some wild stuff outran the cops
Had a pretty good run before it got impounded
Something wrong with it wrecked itself - people got killed
Was a time I knew it needed fixing - wasn’t sure how
The age at which I needed to was not the age at which I could
Now I know I can fix it - finally got the right tools
Will I get the chance the time or will it rust away?
Time is not a friend to an old car sitting idle

Rust takes metal back to dirt
We all end up this way
Ashes ashes we all fall
Maybe I will run again

By Richard Sean Gross

Thought about standing
So they knocked him flat
Face against concrete
When they let him up
On his knees
Said ‘ thank you’
For what?

Blues Alive 
by Richard Sean Gross

Here 3 months without yard
Now only every other day
Record rainfall this year
Cold when it’s not wet
If only a few show up
They take my yard
As if it’s my fault
Finally I get there
Walk for an hour
Feels like
I’m going somewhere
Feel alive

About a Mushroom 
by Richard Sean Gross
A poem about a food I haven't had in 17 years.

In the dark
Anchored in dung
Reaching for the stars
A psychedelic cousin outside the law
This one's a fun guy -ideal dinner guest
Destined for a pizza pie or a creamy soup

by Richard Sean Gross

white plastic spoon
stirring coffee
easily discarded
only used once
gigantic planet
essential to life
destroyed by a plastic spoon
used only once

About A Tree
by Richard Sean Gross

There's this tree at the bend in the road
Been there forever
|t's an Oak or a Birch. I don't really know
Big thick around
The scars make it a beautiful tree
Sturdy old tree
Trouble is, cars hit this tree all the time
Some have died
County wants to chop it down
Safety, they say
Sits right there, can't jump out of the way
This killer tree
Waving its leaves at drunk drivers
Trying its best
A tree of life or a tree of death
Don’t really know
Gotta' kill it before it kills again
Death penalty
A tree don't have no right to life
Gonna' miss it

by Richard Sean Gross

Trump is a czar among mere men
Somehow He won the election
With help from Vladimir Putin
He reminds me of Richard Nixon
Without the foreign policy acumen
He gave a belligerent speech at the UN
Delegates gasped as he vowed destruction
He has very little respect for women
Or America's tradition of immigration
If the people really want a Republican
Why not a Bush, or Pence, or Speaker Ryan?
There'd be less damage to our reputation
And less risk of Armageddon!

by Richard Sean Gross

I know the reason for day and night
but not who invented fluorescent light
I know the reason for snow and rain
but not for memory loss from my brain
I know the reason why animals mate
but not the reason for religious hate
I understand why things are warm or cold
but not why some die young and others old
I know why there are seasons in the year
but not exactly why we are here
I understand memory storage and retrieval
but not why there is good and evil
I know why people lose teeth on meth
but not the reasons for life and death
l know I got fences to mend

but not when the world will end

Me Write Goodly
By Richard Sean Gross

Me write goodly some year.
Me want to spell wrong less.
A story untold, me will find.
A story of fear?
A crime to confess?
Murder most unkind?

To bring to one´s eye, a tear.
To raise their consciousness,
By expressing the angst of my mind.

The prologue, the epilogue, the Captain´s log.
Scattered in my head, wanting to be read.
The play with the protagonist and the clever plot.
Found in a bog?
Is he dead?
Was he shot?

It´s up there somewhere in my mind´s fog.
What the character said, and where that led.
The clue left by the antagonist that connected the dot.

I say funny stuff all the time.
I know how the movie should have ended.
I´ve seen it all, it´s not that hard.
A mountain to climb?
A mountain defended?
By the National Guard?

I can write and make it rhyme.
I will have the viewer´s belief suspended.
I shall be a prolific and witty bard.

People will know I´m clever and wise.
Enjoying a life of wealth and fame.
The awards I win will fit a shelf.
An arrow flies?
A deadly game?
A wicked elf?

My bank account will grow in size.
Everyone will know my name.
Am I getting too far ahead of myself?

A Poetic Editorial
By Richard Sean Gross

This is my fight poem
My shining light poem
My own insights poem.

This is my Death by Incarceration is not right poem
My people lose their sight because money is tight poem
My economic inequality is at its height poem

This is my nuclear war fever fright poem
My students don´t learn to write poem
My streets aren´t safe at night poem

This is my complaints are trite poem
My price of Kite, line of sight, night too bright;
Is it important? Not quite poem

This is my hate is not alright poem
My bigoted speakers excite rioter´s delight poem
My alt-right, crystal night, anti-white, bomb inflight, flash mob incite poem

This is my issues we need to fight poem
This is my poverty plight, might makes right, urban blight, religious right,
Black v white, refugees in flight, gunfight poem.

Ode To A Survivor
By Richard Sean Gross

It must be hard to withstand the pain
Just as hard to keep yourself sane

It must be hard to bear the shame
When someone close was to blame.

It must be hard to deal with the hurt
After someone made you feel like dirt

Hard not to think of suicide
Hurting like you are on the inside

Hard to find an inner peace
When the horror will never cease.

Hard to live with the flashbacks
While they still deny the facts

Hard to love and trust
Though you know you must

Do not let it destroy your mind
An inner strength you will find.

Holy War
By Richard Sean Gross

War machines keep turning
In the Holy Land
Strewn about bodies burning
On the schorched sand
Border lines and blurring
Attacks are planned
Peace they are spurning
Victories are grand
Soldiers rise and are stirring
To make their stand
So many are mourning
Death routine and bland
For PEACE people are yearning
Maybe by GOD´s hand.

Lifer´s Limerick
By Richard Sean Gross

There once was a man at Graterford
Doing life for committing a murd…
I´d rather not say, maybe you heard.

Long ago, a terrible incident occurred 
His public defender was a useless nerd
Mitigating factors ignored and blurred

His death in prison is virtually assured
So probation on the tail is really absurd
How could he report after being interred?

Years of drudgery, he has endured
Flushed away by society, like a turd
Behind the wall like a wingless bird.

A debt to society he has incurred
For all the people he has injured
A life of pleasure must be deferred.

A desire to help others has been stirred
A world in pain needs to be cured
Using all of the power of the word.

Smart Communications/PA DOC
Richard Sean Gross FF9878
SCI Phoenix
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Monday, September 6, 2010

Art and Poetry by Dewan Evans

Story of My Life
By Dewan Evans

its easy to give but harder to survive
when I found my momma wasn't alive
I saw death in her eyes
I had questions to the man in the sky
"story of my life"
why the woman I love break my heart
told me she me she loved me from the start
said I do at the arch
all along she was sabotaging my heart 
sleeping with the enemey
got to be nine months then claimed it was me
put it on God and on her mothers grave
I was blind didn't see her scandalous ways
she even played apart of putting a innocent man away
but here I stand today
'blessed to fight for a better day
even through these rainy days
I still find them sun rays
that keep my heart with faith 
I pray I'm not behind these cold walls till my last day
"story of my life" 
if I could rewind my life 
I wonder would will it be right?
no pain no darkness only sunlight
if i could that wouldn't be real life
I'm from the struggle
where everyday you got to fight
some say they can but could they live 
"the story of my life"....... 

Breonna Taylor
By Dewan Evans

say her name but it want bring her back
this is fact!
like the officers who shot while she slept
tried bribery to cover up the facts
still no arrest
can't understand that?
even the coroner said it was a homicide
how does these officerrs slide?taking a innocent life.
taking a beautiful mother
a daughter of a mother
who forever will have tears in her eyes
pain in her heart that she can't disguise
its no wonder why the world cry
to many innocent lives
taking before our eyes
true its black lives
why shouldn't we matter
everything we endured
why are we still fighting for equal rights
we all bleed the same and die 
at the end of life
why does my skin color
not give me a fair chance at life
that there isn't a cop out 
just the facts of life
just because I'm in the hood
doesn't mean I'm no good!
just because I got charges
doesn't mean that they true
many outside looking in 
but technology 
been giving you a true view
what the minorities have to go through
BREONNA TAYLOR all the others we lost
know the world is riding for you 
sorry that your lives had to be sacrifices
to make this world view
what it has already been going through
may you watch over us in heaven
help us pull through
I grieve for you...know the world riding for you!

Spoken Word Poetry. 
By Dewan Evans

This moment is ours to shine
Through thick and thin
Let’s stick to our guns
Like true hearts should
Don’t let this barrier
Carry us in opposite directions
You in my life, I consider a blessing
My heart been confessing
You keep a smile on me
You got my love progressing
Got me believing
When I doubted my direction
I appreciated your presence
This moment
I hope lasts forever
In reality, I hope we enjoy the weather
I got your back forever
Friends forever
‘til we meet at the crossroads
This moment we hold
Let’s never let go
- Moment -

Stronger 2
Spoken Word Poetry. 
By Dewan Evans

I was weak, barely could stand
No hope to crawl
Paralyzed mentally, my Faith was none
I was losing slow, so weak, I gave up hope
My physical presence, turned worse
Time wasn’t my essence
No doubt I was stressing
Physically infected
Starving, like no digesting
Many would question, my visual presence
Expecting an addict’s confession
Not knowing, my cancer was progressing
I just left a session
Medication was aggressive, couldn’t stop its aggression
I laid with strength, only to dream and pray
Nothing numbed the pain
Medication felt the same
Every day I woke, I prayed
I fought to Believe
I had strength to succeed, live cancer-free 
Despite on the edge, I didn’t jump
Chose to live instead
My prayers and hope became one
I’m so much stronger, from day one
Stronger I’ve become
- Stronger 2 -

P.S. Dedicated to those fighting cancer, as well as those trying to overcome an ill wellbeing. Fight. Never give up. Believe. Have faith in yourself, Angels, God, and prayer!

Spoken Word Poetry. 
By Dewan Evans

I’m a survivalist, survived the Earth’s abyss
Stronger than two fists, blessed with a gift 
Thank God, even though I’m not rich
It’s a task to stay fit
Mentally, physically
Life took a toll on me
So, no, it’s not for free
I’ve been close to the edge
Crying like a baby, with no comfort
Starvin’ to get fed
Times, I wondered: “Am I better off dead?”
Here I stand alive
Witness the struggle and pain in my eyes
Thought I was safe after baptize
Still had to fight to stay alive
Dodge temptation, stay strong, through tribulation
Been a believer, with no hesitation
But many days, many nights, asking
“God, why life so strife?”
Even if you right, you get done outta spite!
I learned to fight
A survivor!

Who Am I
Spoken Word Poetry. 
By Dewan Evans

I’m a competitor, no one can do better
It’s my time to shine
Adapt to any weather
I know haters, wishin’ for my downfall
That keeps me motivated
Prayer is my parachute, God is my bulletproof
My heart bleeds 100-proof
Soldier mentality, father instincts
Lookin’ out for my family
Fake friends need a Grammy
Life is not a race, you can pass me
Stresses of the world
Cause paranoia and insanity
Money and bad decisions
May make you a casualty
Stay focused, stay humble
Even my you tumble
Get up, dust it off
Stay cautious, like you blindfolded
Let this be deeply noted
Who I am as a person, is not my position
You haters keep wishin’
- Who I Am -

Why Judge Me?
Spoken Word Poetry. 
By Dewan Evans

Nobody on Earth is perfect
You have no right to judge me
Only God does above me
You don’t know enough of me
To label me super ugly
Holdin’ a grudge, just because
Calling me guilty, with no proof to light
Check your soul, read a little of “the word”
See who gave forgiveness to all souls
Why judge me? Innocent or guilty, just say
I copped a plea
Still you have no right judging me
Leave that to G.O.D
I’m not living for free
Cherish friends and love ones around me
Far from perfect
But not guilty on a lot of things
For what it’s worth
Judgin’ me as a cursed kid
How you better? We both bleed under skin
Innocent, not guilty, since you judging me
- Why Judge Me? -

P.S. Don’t judge one just ‘cause you can, or because of their position in life and situation. You can be wrong assuming. Don’t judge a book, or a human being, by their cover, or without true facts about who that human being is. We all have a story!

My Sunshine
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry
T.S.D.E. Ink 5

You came into my life
Brought me sunshine
When I rise
I think of you “my sunshine”
My body craves for it
My heart loves it
“My Sunshine”
I love to look in your eyes
You hypnotize
“My Sunshine”
Makes my days better
When I was under the weather
“My Sunshine”
Got me feeling better
I want my sunshine forever
“My Sunshine”

By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry

You had my trust
You had my heart caught up
You had a diamond, in the ruff
You had my true love and care
You were my one and only
You made my heart face its fears
Then you made it fear all over again
Thought it was me and you the end
Now my new journey begins
My heart still suffocated
Will it ever breathe again?
You made my temperature rise
Only to leave me cold in the end.

(From New Legacy 5)

I´m only Human (The Struggle)
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry

I sit behind these steel gates
With a permanent mad face
Surrounded with lost ones with no hope
20 years no escape
20 years of built up anger
Caged with strangers
Plotting revenge on fake friends
Same ones that lied to win!
Placing an innocent man
In the belly of the beast, me!
Decades in, I barely sleep
Never peace, nightmare on Elm street
I keep  a fake smile, laugh just because
If I was see through, recognize God´s love
I still fight the nudge
To do things just because, remind myself of God´s love
Pray my innocence and freedom
Will one day become
If my prayer is never granted
“True” it will be hard to understand it!
I can only take it as God planned it!
Hoping He knows, just ´cause I question
Never was I blind of His blessings,
I´m only human
That´s been fighting to survive, since adolescence
“I´m only human”.

(From New Legacy 5)

Just Yesterday
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry

I thought I felt an angel heaven sent
Thought I could rewind time
Turn all this pain to joy and sunshine
“Just yesterday”
I prayed for a rainy day
“Just yesterday”
A sprinkle landed on my face
Like a tear
Like it felt my agony, my pain
My struggles to this day
¨Just yesterday”
I thought I couldn´t stand
I was blessed with strength of many man
Tho it´s been many bad days
My faith still stands today
Reminiscing on the good times.
“Just Yesterday”
(From New Legacy 5)

By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry

Hold on to what I have
That´s my family, my sanity and faith
Moms resting in peace today
Pops living deceased today
With no thoughts of me today
I´m fighting these days
I miss my kids these days
Wish they knew truth today
How I was lied on, betrayed
By those still scandalous today
Twisted facts to put me away
I hope the sun shine today
So I can feel a sun ray
I wish for wings today
So I can fly away, escaping the pain today
Knowing it’s a better place
Than the cold world we live in today
It takes a nation for change
Every day we rise
We can fight for better days
When you smile today
Remember, it´s a blessing to wake
No hypocrite, still not perfect today
If I go today, I pray I walk through Heaven gates

(From New Legacy 5)

One Day
By Dewan Evans
 Spoken Word Poetry

Don´t leave me on the bridge
My balance may give
Who say? We can´t love, happily ever after
They don´t dream, don´t understand
What our hearts are after
They judge “Dewan”
But I owe them no answer
“Dewan¨ is no cancer, no monster, never perfect
But a heart full of courage
With good in it!
Changed man, for a better life span
Every day, I ask God was this the plan
Cause behind these bars
Stands an innocent man
Many feel like
Outside these bars many abandon
Not hearing the innocent´s sound
Many feel like
I shouldn´t have a helping hand
I´m blessed by angel hands
Those that don´t judge, just cause they can
Those I appreciate
Even the ones that judge full of hate
That gives me fuel to demonstrate
With blessings, I´m stronger every day
Blessed to fight another day
Will I get free, maybe one day

“One Day”

(From New Legacy 5)

By Dewan Evans
 Spoken Word Poetry

I got scars from abuse, betrayal and wars
Many times asking God
Is this what you had in store
I was a young-in scorn
Taught faith, but lost it in the storm
Dreamed big, but my reality was th norm
True I had chances to persevere
Chances to shine
Like stars in the atmosphere
I chose a road that wasn´t clear
A few times you could say it was karma
Other times the devil causing problems
I tried hard to solve ´em
In a world that´s Gotham
Filled with love and pain
Rich and poor, the sick, the sane
Racism which triggers anger to my brain
It´s useless cause we all bleed the same
Die and rest in a grave
Heaven or hell
Wherever our choices dwell us
Live and learn
That´s what life tells us
Watch those trying to set you up for failure
Sound so familiar.

Be That! Dedicated to my son Simieon Dewan Evans
By Dewan Evans
 Spoken Word Poetry

Be that man I couldn´t be
Keep ya guards up
Life can be a bully
Make right choices, so you can go far
Recognize reward from working hard
Don´t let it dictate negative ways
Believe in self and God
“Responsibility” makes you a better man
don´t look near; look far!
Your future is what you make it
Cherish every breath you take
Treat your body like a temple
Recognize what you been through
Be aware of those see through
Baiting you in just to hurt you
Patience is a virtue
Material things can hurt you
Don´t let it turn you
To what many in this world turn to
Be that golden son, that big brother
Cherish time and hugs with your mother
By now, you should´ve discovered
Who you are, where you´re headed
Be that man I dreaded
Don´t make foolish decisions
Be that man that makes a difference

Be That! Is dedicated to Simieon Dewan Evans, my son.
I was only blessed to be a part of your life physically for a short time.
It wasn´t my choice not to be there! Your dad would never abandon you or hurt you in any fashion
I wanted to be a true father, but, that opportunity was stripped from me for something I´m innocent of.
I pray our communication one day will be frequent and you give me your time and open ear, not to lie to you, but for truth.
It´s so much more you need to know, despite me not being there these years.
You and your sister Tyelenne and your mom are with me every day in my prayers.
Be that!  Son, accomplish everything you put your mind to, stay focused.
I send my love and best wishes.
I miss you.

(Your father, Dewan Evans)

New Legacy
By Dewan Evans
 Spoken Word Poetry

A soul saved no discrepancies
I wouldn`t be human, if I was perfect
I made it this far
Had to go through happiness and pain
Many times
Went against the grain
Close to blowing my own brains
Curt cobain
Life took its toll on  young man
That was trying to break the cycle
A younging balling
Wishing to fly like Michael
To the sky, to the heavens
Disappear from earth
Life had a younging stressing
Since I remained
I turned young and restless
Lead to misdirection
Deadly game, like sex with no protection
Grandma told me learn ya lesson
If not they got bars
That will trap you forever
My heart had a personal vendetta
A young one, not knowing no better
A wise one told me, get your soul together
So you can make it
Where happiness is forever
My new legacy begins
Asking God from the heart
Forgive me for all sins
 Ones I thought
The ones I did
Tho I´m trapped in
I pray my innocence and freedom
Will be the end
“New Legacy”

By Dewan Evans
(Dedicated to DM)

You are a beautiful creation
Beautiful wife, beautiful mother
A survivor with a beautiful heart
You inspire strength and hope
To mothers and friends
You hold beauty within
That can be seen from far
You've healed from scars
You're a mother on guard
Teaching your kids to go far
You're beautiful to the world by far
Thank you for being the beautiful person you are

If I Could
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

I would change a lot of things
Take my life out the fast lane
Be stronger with decisions
Analyze my position
Live life like it’s worth living
Keep a settle appetite
Never be shame
Learn from my mistakes the first time around
Make my mother proud, non stressin
Accomplish my goals with aggression
Raise my seeds, my prize possessions
Be a father to the finish
Cherish time and family from the beginning
Work hard so we can live happily
Thank God everyday
For keeping me away from tragedy
If I could
I would try to live life perfect
But no human on earth is
If I could!

Picture This
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

Innocent of the crime
Convicted, unjustified
Represented by a lawyer not classified
Day by day it gets harder to cope
Laugh and joke is a part of the masquerade
Inside I’m trying hard to stay sane
My heart feels the pain
Everyday ends the same
No matter how I change
I pray to get out one day
Truly believe God will make a way
Till then, I’ll pray, build strength each day
Not seeing my family and kids
For 14 years, bring me mo than tears
I’ve been close to taking my life
If it wasn’t for fear, I wouldn’t be here

Picture this!

Try To Save Them
By Dewan Evans

I see her from far
I see her close range
I see her in my way
Profiling all day
She got a counterfeit heart
A disguise to get you mesmerized
A physique to make temptations rise
A magnet to a man’s eyes
Food for a foolish man’s appetite
Soon as he apple bite
Killing his soul, risking his life
Only thing she care about is the price
Then she on to the next hype
She probably never felt love in her life
Or need money for eviction
Or money for addiction
Could be doing it to pay tuition
Or just to get attention
Maybe she learned it from her momma
It’s a crazy world we live in
We need to pray for these women
Extend a hand to these women
Cause it could be our sister
Our family, our children
Our mothers needing healing
Try To Save them!

Heartless World
By Dewan Evans

That kid tummy starving
Than man is yawning, no roof over his head
That human is dying
Can’t afford healthcare
That girl 14, had a baby on the stairs
Left the baby right there
Not cause she was heartless
Cause she was scared
That man got 25 to life
Cause his lawyer didn’t’ care
That woman had 12 drinks
Don’t remember her sexual affairs
Another woman died
Thinking domestic violence was love
Plenty soldiers relying
But all they get is a moment of silence
In this heartless world
Heartless World

2 Hearts
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

You get me going, heart pumping
Mind racin’, anticipating feeling your touch
I’m not faking, I tried to shake it
Deepens the temptation
Can’t be infatuation or my imagination
You’re a beautiful creation
One in a million presentation
You in my life, you will always be appreciated
Strive hard, to always keep us affiliated
Let’s make it through the rainy days
Embrace under sun rays, better days
Skies the limit, life got many pivots
Me and you together, we grip it!
Two of the same hearts on a mission
-2 Hearts – 

I Wish
By Dewan Evans
Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

I wish it wasn’t no bad days
I wish war wasn’t present
I wish death wasn’t destiny
I wish some facts wasn’t irrelevant
My wish is only a prayer
That’s only evident
I will keep wishing, till I’m heaven sent
Some tragedies don’t make sense
I wish God would vent
So I could really understand why it’s meant
Time is essence
I wish I could rewind, to better my present
I wonder if my wishes came true
Would life be better spent
Will my homeless feelings be sheltered
Will my soul be heaven sent?
I wish!

By Dewan Evans

You gave me strength to rise
A reason to believe
Keep hope and a dream
You’re someone I admire
I know
Situations make it harder
I hope we grow stronger
My heart
Can’t fight it no longer
It ponders and dreams
Only to wake to reality
Days you seem close to me
Like we have a chance to be
Is my mind playing tricks on me?
I would give you my air to breathe
No questions, my heart confesses
The old me
Would of hid these possessions
Feelings resurrected
Making you a desire that never left me

- My Desire - 

Words of Truth
By Dewan Evans

(verse one)
You haven’t walked in my shoes
You really don’t have a clue
Some say I question God
Did wrong!
And it’s only right
I sit behind bars
Despite I’ve been blessed for 20 years
Walking prison yards
Covered with tattoo tears
God and death my only fear
Dreamed to go far
Now my only dream is freedom from these bars
Reuniting with family
Means more, than any salary
Haters won’t understand me
They want me to stay causality
They deaf of my innocence
Blind of my love
No acting, no Grammy
Missing my granny
Solid part of the family
You’ve felt pain you understand me

(verse two)
The sun hasn’t always shined
In a life like mine
It was special days
Like witnessing my daughter’s first cries
Never forgot the bad days
Like my son in a hospital bed
Wishing I could trade my life for his
Take his pain
Know if it was purposely did
By those who fibbed!
I’m far from perfect
So I ask for forgiveness
Not for wealth or negative gain
Mainly cause my heart sane
Love in its veins
My conscious speaks every day
About the dirt I did!
How I got to get right
If my soul wants to live
I hope God forgives
Comprise, understand things I did!
From a youngin’ to a grown man
-Words of truth-

By Dewan Evans

I would pause that moment
Be smarter with decisions
Like my first time in prison
My relations with women
Names I won't mention
My mistakes
Replace 'em with right
Never choose wrong
Feel the innocence in this song
My seeds you need to know
Your father has a loving heart
I sit behind these steel gates
Wishing to be with you, every day
Heal the pain, mute the gossip
Like I never cared for you
Lies! These haters say
Labeled me guilty
Speculation and lies, put me away!
Made my faith turn stray
I wish I could rewind
Everyday would be a good day
No pain, no misery, no losing
Only victory
(If I could rewind)

 By Dewan Evans

I see clearly now
Though the devil, stay testing me
Mentally, stressing me
Challenging my decisions
Though my heart pumps true religion
Never been perfect
Name one person on Earth who is
These lines gorgeous
Rich in knowledge, as the Forbes is
Real as grass on the Earth is
Don't get me twisted
Cause the position I sit in
My vision from this cold cell
Is for a better place to dwell
Change on Earth
So we can all exhale
My heart was once frail
My vision was lost, with no Braille
Took time to get focused
20 years in
Still screaming innocent out my cell
If my innocence never prevails
I pray my new legacy will

Lost Heart 
By Dewan Evans

How can I breathe
When my air was taken
My heart was mistaken
Now it’s paying, pain, suffering
Never will I trust again
Tho it’s attached to me, like my best friend
It’s crazy how your heart spins
We only have one heart to give
I gave mine and got DID!
I guess it’s a lesson at the end
That’s why we live
I’m still fighting to love again
If it’s in the cards
I may find true love and happiness
Right now my heart is PLADDED
Filled with no trust and saddened
A lost heart that’s drastic measure
Lost heart that’s trying to find the sun
In this dark era

Lost Heart.

By Dewan Evans

Fortunate to be breathing
Fortunate to be strong, fighting these demons
I'm living for a reason
Fortunate to have two beautiful kids succeeding
Strength to keep breathing
Even though my prayers seem like they not being greeted
Fortunate for a reason
Despite struggling every season
Fortunate to have loved ones
It's appreciated from my soul & heart
Fortunate to shine when it's dark
Fortunate to be forgiven
Not to be imprisoned in my own mind
Fortunate to see my blindside
Blessed from the other side
Fortunate is a blessing, is what I recognize!

Dear Momma
By Dewan Evans

I know you not here
Since that year, your son been stressed, for real
I know we was distance at times
You had your own demons to fight
True I felt abandoned
To this day, still don't understand it
How can Momma leave her son?
Flesh and blood on the run
As I grew older, still confused
Holdin' anger, seeing you with strangers
Your appearance lookin' stranger
You kinda turned into a stranger
But my heart still held love, like remainders
Prayed for the day we would reunite
That day never happen
The day you died, got the news
It was tragic, now that you gone
I send questions and love up above
I hope you answer your son
Dear Momma!

By Dewan Evans

People going to war
Coming back home disfigured
Still wearing U.S. memorabilia
Some starvin', homeless in the street
You put ya life on the line, claimin' U.S. pride
When it's all said and done, you not respected
I guess being a hero
You get treated like a zero
Government wishin', they could keep this on the low
How low can you go, sabotaging your own?
Life is precious even if it's not your own.
I continue to dream on
Knowing God is sitting on the throne
Sees what's going on
I pray for better days
Hope the weak get stronger
The innocent dodge strays
Life has a fast lane
So pray to stay blessed till your last day.

Letter 2 God
By Dewan Evans

You have kept me alive 38 years
A lot of those years
Life wasn't easy. Even on them bad days
I kept a smile, a young child
Learning to swim in the pool of life
No Father figure, Mamma's only child
She was barely around
Grandma found me in the Lost and Found
Had to man up, even though I was a young buck
These questions have been built up
Since you haven't answered through prayer
I send this letter
Hopin' it gets through heaven's gates
I'm still learning from my mistakes
Hope to be a better man on Judgement Day
Dwelling behind heaven's gates
So we can really conversate
I hold anger today
For being convicted
In these false courts today
Wondering why
You dealt me these cards to play.

My Angel

There for me 24/7
Sent from heaven
Got me protected
with her blessings
Days I was stressing
lead me to pray
situations was hectic
life and death wish
She came to my rescue
Something I appreciate
Rainy Days
my angel my umbrella
Hesitate? Never!
My angel
had my back
whether I was right or wrong
that I had to right my wrongs
So I pray
asking for forgiveness through songs

My angel

Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

Imagine the sun never rising
Imagine nights with no moon, no stars
Imagine the sky with no planes
Climate stayed the same
No grass on the grain
Livin in a world, no regulations
If you not blind
Witness world devastation
A world with no luxuries
No homes, no phones
Hunting for food, for your own
Surviving with no fashion
Almost in the nude
Imagine this life for me and you
Just my imagination
Real world got us stagnated
If this world was my imagination
How many would make it?

Heaven Sent
Spoken Word Poetry from E-Book: My Daily Bread
(Go to

Your eyes remind me of precious jewels
You move with innocence
Your beauty shines like diamonds
Smile beautiful as horizons
Intelligent personality a plus
Your physique irrelevant
You must be heaven sent
Independent, family oriented
No need to demand respect
Only a fool would disrespect
You stand for a real woman
I appreciate you building me up
When I didn't have the strength
Not finding the right one is a myth
Cause you’re the queen in my life
Heaven sent!


We all have them, no matter who we are.
They're a part of making us who we are
Stay focused, strive to go far
When days seem dark, shine with heart!
When temptation strikes
Keep a faithful heart
Be conscious from the start
Don't let them dictate you
Dream big, make them reality
Make haters believers
Make yourself a leader
Turn haters to cheerleaders
Watch the devil in disguise
Keep a positive appetite in your eyes
Like a true warrior, till your last wind
Keep the faith...You can win!!
Battle, battle with every breath
Who wouldn’t be scared of death
When you're human, you just want to live and exist
Battle with a clenched fist
Turn weakness to strength
Everyday you're blessed to exist

In My Shoes

Would you live without excuses
Have direction without guardians
No food in the garden
Live with your stomach stravin
Would you be a good guy or a goblin
Survive where death and struggle
Play your guardin
Would you stay strong
With your momma gone
Body found cold sad song
Would you not hold anger
Treat your father like a stranger
Cause you haven´t seen him, over a decade
Would you live life in a cage
Convicted unjust for another´s rage
In my shoes, roads been ruff
Just look at the scuffs
In my shoes
Would you be strong enough
In my shoes?

Spoken Word Poetry
From E-Book: Still Fighting
(Go to

Trevon Martin

Trevon Martin –
No matter the color of our skin
We all bleed red within
Judgin me like I don´t fit in
Just cause the color of my skin
Is not the right way to live
Many innocent people
Have been victims to this
There is no excuses
Racism is useless
Holdin anger is not positive
Somethin I had to register
It´s plenty with Trevon´s character
Hoodie and dark skin
Taking a shortcut
Just trying to make it in
Would you believe
A shortcut would be
Trevon´s last wind
Just cause he was
In a neighborhood, where he didn´t fit in
Due to the color of his skin
Life took by an angry man
With hatred plans
Who cared less about
A young man´s life span
Instead of doing what´s right
He took matters with his own hands
Ending a young life – of a young man
- Trevon Martin -  By Dewan Evans T.S.D.E.Ink.5

Note to the reader: This poem is not to be judgmental, just my opinion and feelings at this time!
- Lives Matter –

Rainy Days –

No guarantee the sun is going to shine
Stay ready, so you never got to get ready
Clouds is setting
Thunder, hear its melody?
Raindrops like beats
Feather light, when drops hit your feet
Is the world in misery?
Or is it God showing love
Is what I´m thinking as I look above
I love these rainy days
From my window, in a daze
Streets look like a maze
Hundreds of footprints
Splashin through the rain
Got to get through the dark
To get to sunny days
But I love my rainy days
Rainy days!

My Life, My Life –

My life, my life
Has been a journey
Times I was weak
Didn´t know me
Innocent son
Why Pops disown me
Momma gave me up
Like she didn´t know me
Grandma tried to make it all better
But growing as a kid
You turn clever
Confusin hatred
My heart had a fever
Questions to God
Didn´t get answered
So I kept a mean mug
Cold world I´m living in
Grandma tried discipline
Hard headed, I regret it
No excuses
I was wild and clueless
Missed opportunities to do big!
My life, my life.

Dewan Evans T30778
CSP Corcoran
P.O. Box 5242
Corcoran, CA 93212
I am Dewan Evans, born and raised in Los Angeles California.  I´m 40 years young.  Still looking and feeling young. I´m fortunate and blessed to still be living and healthy.   I´m the only child of a single mum, though my mum didn't raise me.  My grandmother did.  My mother since died in 2011. I've been behind these cold bars for 19 years for a crime and accusations that I´m innocent of. I was railroaded by the system, betrayed by close ones I considered friends, with fabricated stories.  Despite these 19 years on lock, I´ve strived to better myself mentally, spiritually as well as physically, and with my writings I´m hoping to achieve but to be a positive aspect to the world. I´m still fighting in many ways not just for my freedom, but to remain relevant in my family´s life, to better my mind, heart and faith.   Enjoy my poetry, songs, stories and art. My books are available on Amazon: No Bully, My Daily Bread and Still Fighting.