Sinners and saints. Gangsters and businessmen. Prisoners don’t always fit into neat boxes.
BagMan swallowed balloons full of dope so he could sell it and care for his daughter. He had portraits of her all over his body.
Convict was in prison for burning a cross but afraid of what that might bring so he told people he killed a guy.
Cross was quiet, wore glasses and respected everyone. That’s why I was so surprised to see him wailing on a guy whose back was poked full of holes.
I was scared when I came in. I stayed out of the way but two days in someone took off on me. I was fighting a guy twice my size in a cell the size of your bathroom. He grabbed me. My head hit the ceiling, then the sink and I didn’t wake up for 15 minutes, or so they told me. That same guy brought me ice and aspirin, we were supposed to be buddies because I passed his test and fought.
Coming to prison was like learning a new language. It wasn’t just words though. I had to learn people differently, had to read everyone’s angle. Guys got over on me but I learned. Getting wise was about failure but not too much.
The drama is everywhere. You have to see it to avoid it. I played cards with a guy one day, turns out he was someone’s boyfriend. That guy pulled a knife and I made my apologies.
Things look different now. The hardest drama to see is our own. Yet, I am who I am because of all the mistakes, starting with the harm I did to get in here.
While drinking and getting high I did things I regret with every ounce of my being. Countless wounds I can’t even remember. I ran from the silence and became a terrible storm.
We’re all gifted with incredible instincts and natural desires. Balanced, they keep us alive and well. Twisted and in control, they sever our connection to humanity. Fear and instinct can make us monsters.
I drank to make noise. Warm, comfortable, white noise blocked the fear and doubt, the feeling I wasn’t enough. Drinking only made sure I wasn’t.
I robbed a house and later shot two guys chasing me because I was a coward. I ran out of drugs and was willing to do anything to get more.
Today I’m glad to look in the mirror. I stop and talk to the many characters I see on the yard. I live a different way. I teach classes and mentor, offering help to make changes. I can’t judge those who don’t want it because I was just like them. Couldn’t change until I’d had enough pain.
I have been destructive hunger and blind desire. I have walked a hard path back. I have been the disease and I have worked to be the cure.
We are all people. People don’t fit into neat little boxes.