12/30/2012

Rain

Poem by one of my students and friend.

Wind blows harder
Colder
Green grass tilts its bodies
Windward.

Pigeons line up
On the roof
Enjoying the first rain
Waited year long.

We, two people
One mood. One plight
In the corner
Talking, watching.

People passing by
Clinking sound of keys
Of the gate keeper
Walking to and fro.

Gate opens
Group of people
Walk outside
Chattering. Laughing.

Rain has stopped
Sometimes ago
Suddenly
Downpour.

On clothes
On shoulders
On faces
On our lives. 

KP.NVL
Van Nguyen

Today's lesson

I held my prose class today, and did I did a lesson on; What is compassion? What is empathy? I wanted the fellows to relate both states to their individual lives. Some cats went straight to a denotative meaning of both words. Other students went to the denotatíve religious and philosophical meanings, giving the questions no flavor or personality at all. I had given the questions open ended. One guy, an old writer did personalize both compassion and empathy into a story about a lady who helped drug addicts and prostitutes in San Francisco.
I asked for at least two paragraphs. At the end of the writing period I spoke about the importance of making the lesson their own. The compassion and empathy, make the states personal, and see what they come up with. I asked was not empathy encompassed within compassion? Can there be compassion without empathy, was the homework.

12/22/2012

Peace Gang - Thank you

Greetings Peace G. family friends and realness folks. Thank you for your thoughts, vibes and blessings. Thanks for continually being a part of the realness struggles to keep human rights, rights of all people, regardless of color or gender in the forefront of the realness struggles. You are definitely an inspiratin for me and always bring me out of a funk, a deep sadness and mild depression. Your thoughts, vibes, heart and meditations help heal me and not to allow the sadness to stay and build a life long nest in my heart, mind and spirit, even though, so many years in physical prison makes it tougher now a days to come out of the funk.
But, I keep creating, glowing and growing. Love and light to brothers and sisters imprisoned around the world especially lifers, LWOP's and those on Death Row.
May the people, the States who love to kill and execute people, soon love to love. Keep sending out realness, love, healing and light. Keep growing and glowing!

12/20/2012

A breeze

Sitting in front of art room and feeding the birds as Marty runs his visual art classes. The sparrows, cowbirds and blackbirds come inside the chain-linked fence. The pigeons try to come under the fence and I run them off.
Today I am more at peace with myself than yesterday. At first there was fog on the Folsom hill where the trees that we see or cannot see determines whether there is program or not. The sun broke through and is generous with his rays. There is an about 10 – 15 degree breeze which is nice on the skin. It makes me think of a hug that dispels the loneliness. One can choose not to be lonely but sometimes loneliness gives you no choice.

12/16/2012

Art Room - Music

What a day full of song, poetry and music. Diane Patterson came in to do an all the way real concert and brought two of her poetic musical friends, Sara Tone & The Earth Tribe Gospel and Al Torre medicine music bringing tunes to the heart and soul of the men here. Bringing poetry and lyrics that smashes the B.S. and leaves the heart open to hoping. I sat back after the concert and now in the art room I watched our guests check out the previous guest artist wall. Al Torre spoke of Kimberly Bass and flow notion and Sara Tone spoke of Michael Franti. Diane has from the beginning been a part of the art room and a welcome part of my writing classes and has often visited my poetry class as a guest artist sharing her incredible lyrics, songs poetry and prose. So glad I was not on lockdown to miss Diane Patterson and her friends. A blessing and I am sure  Earth Mother is so proud.
Stay real!

(written in November)

12/15/2012

Stay Cool

There is a mean hateful officer running the rotunda where I and my co-worker run the weekend guitar check out program. He hates that prisoners have any programs and make things as hard as he can to disrupt the programs. I remember what my long time friend Karin from Sweden tells me, be nice and stay real and not curse anyone out. She is correct, because I give away my peace, realness or power over my realness and love when I get angry and express that anger through verbal insults. So I stayed cool and thankful. Instead of participating in the negative game, that could get me locked up in the hole, I took my flute, some bread, cookies and prison silence and sat down up against the small wall and fed my blackbird and cowbird friends and communed with Earth Mother. The sky was sweet and cool, but my heart, soul and spirit warm and cosy with realness. There are always peaceful, growthful healing ways to express or sublimate anger.

12/06/2012

Dreads

I am on lockdown now just because I have dreads. Yesterday there was a fight on the yard between some crips from down south and some blacks from Bay area up north. So they locked all the blacks down to sort things out. However, instead of taking me off lockdown like they did all other blacks not from this groups, they kept me on lockdown and listed me Bay area, non affiliate, or non gang member. I have never been in the Bay area, 35 years ago I came to prison straight away from Barstow, San Bernadino county in southern California. I tried to have them fix their known mistake. I am from Barstow and run alone and never have been a gang member. The prison officials even knowing that as a fact, told me I must file a 2200 appeal form to get off lockdown. They know that will take awhile to be processed, besides they know I am not from the Bay area and know I am not a gang member.
So today and tomorrow I'll be deprived of teaching my classes. If someone was coming to visit me I cannot get my visit. How do they get away with such madness unchecked by any outside source.
Of course I will survive this. I hope whoever was coming to visit me didn't let this madness discourage them. I have never run with any group in prison and administrators know that to be a fact. I wanted to get in as many classes and hang out with as many of my bird friends as I could before I am transferred. So this evil move by prison officials to place me in a box I have no business in has dampened my heart and spirit some. There need to be real oversight on prison officials when they do outlandish and unjustified actions on prisoners. Prisoners just doing their time. It is sad when an administration of prison officials know what the correct thing to do is, and not do it. They know what the honest and real thing to do is, and yet do the wrong.

12/02/2012

Redemptive Solitude - A Question of Justice

Drawing by Spoon
The question of justice and equal treatment for the poor, prisoners and people of color in America is absurd, and all the pundits, lawyers, judges, activists and legal folks know that. Historically, it is a question of power and a question of games.
What is most disturbing to me, is how hard it is for the public in America to see how prison is inherently retributive, evil, unforgiving and a deterrent. When prisons need to be more than just an ugly place. If the public used their senses, empirical and empathic, they would know how important some kind of positive flow is.
If individual members of the public spent a few hours, a night or a day in a cell, perhaps in solitary confinement they would realize how deep the wounds are and go. The public would then see no need to heap punishment upon punishment on people already dispirited and beaten down by their actions and losses in life. Being deprived of family contact, indeed human contact is like being denied sunshine for a life time. The concentration of all this negative energy into one place without any positive outlets for prisoners can be stifling, particularly to the human spirit. It is like a saucer of water in a boiling Mojave desert. God gave Satan a second chance even in hell.
The early Quakers had a proper idea about justice and solitude as a place of redemption. The Quakers in 1826 originally thought when they created the first penitentiary that aloneness with a bible and a tiny sun roof was enough to reform folks.
The solitude could have been productive and redemptive had it been an all inclusive healing form of solitude. Yes, spiritually, meditatively based. They had a proper intent, but the wrong format. The Quakers did not know how prison life was, how it can be a continually expanding pit. They did not know how lifeless solitary confinement can be when orchestrated by politics, government and a justice system that creates a nasty form of isolation. Solitude made out of punishment and inhumanity can never be productive.
No beings, human or not, should be kept in cages without any interaction with other human beings or nature. Such alienation can only lead to
dysfunction, mental and spiritual health problems. Just like the overcrowding of institutions are equally horrible and inhumane.
Respected solitude can be just and enlightening and not much different than monks or nuns, shamans or other folks seeking healing and communion with spirit and self. It can be a means of growth and forgiveness of souls suffering through the solitude.
But, isolation based on revenge, money, punishment and retribution cannot heal people. The solitude must be a blessed space of aloneness, and allow people to meet with people, spirits to meet with spirits, and hearts to meet with hearts. If you take away all that makes one human, how do you expect them to be human, and balance their one foot in darkness and one foot in light.
If the goal of penitentiaries are to redeem, heal and self rehabilitate, the solitude, treatment and justice must be an all inclusive meditative space of realness. The animal inside all humans suffer horribly without human contact and respected space with visits, exercise, meditation, arts, books, education, family, friends and nature to heal and bring about justice in America's prison system of politics and injustice. Justice must be a living and breathing healing entity, like Mother Earth.

12/01/2012

At Night I Fly – PBS denied

I just found out today in the art room that At Night I Fly has been denied acceptance on American PBS stations. At Night I Fly was a finalist on Point Of View PBS program. We had two guests today in the art room, and I had just read my poems Go On, No Beauty in Cell bars and Not a Poet. I was in a splendid free flowing poetry reading mood, until Jim Carlson, free staff who helps keep alive the art programs, that PBS did not accept the film. My poetic heart dropped like a boulder in a pond. I was too choked up with feelings to do anymore poems, even after Jim asked me to read my poem At Night I Fly. For the cool guests we had there in the art room, one of them spoke of how there are internet things that can be done to bring the film to a USA audience.
Not that I expected an American PBS to do anything less than it did. Yet, I believe in realness and know that film eats raw meat.
I had to step outside of the art room, take deep breaths and commune with my bird friends and the sky. I do not understand the USA's non acceptance of the film At Night I Fly. But, I also do not understand the USA's non acceptance of my work.
This film has won two top awards in Sweden. I know Sweden is a small country, but still. The film has gathered great reviews in other countries as well. Still not even the smallest film festivals in America have accepted the film. Too much realness, I imagine and not enough fomented violence for a USA audience that love to bash prisoners and people of color. If the film was full of us cutting each other's throats USA would have treasured the film.
It breaks my heart, not for me, but for my brother Michel from Sweden, and others who put so much life, hard work, and truth into this unique production. I'll keep being real and spreading realness no matter what. Even if America never accepts me or my work, I value more what folks think and believe around the world. Stay real – Peace G is love and creativity. We'll keep flowing.

11/25/2012

Writing classes

I have both my prose and poetry classes up and running sometimes twice a week. I'm trying to get in as many classes as possible before I'm transferred. One of the visiting teaching artists, Anna, who is a tremendous writer, artist and mother came in to do her workshops in my class, she is always most welcome and her stories and lessons shared are little gems of realness appreciated by both of my classes. She has come into my class as a guest artist for years. It makes our classes more real. Anna shares the same goal when it comes to teaching, we are all students and teachers, and the most important thing is to write, write, write, to create from your own hearts, lives and worlds in order to share what is universal.
However, it's an end of an era here at New Folsom Art Room. Sure they can find some other prisoners to have classes and One Soul will still come to embrace the art room. No one is irreplaceable and I will be forgotten here. But I will keep walking in my own shoes knowing that when you walk in someone else's shoes you leave no foot prints.

11/11/2012

The Edge

If I am crying, I want to sound like I am crying, and be each tear-drop. If I am dying, I want to sound like I am dying and be each death. Today I did my poetry reading, and realness was my edge, my voice, my tone, my feel and flow.
I do memorize and say my poems out loud, but my readings are spontaneous and unrehearsed. I have no set voice, or tone, or standard modulation. I try not to speak too fast, and pronounce my words clearly. Because, I do hope folks get to savor each word, and let the beat and rhythm ring inside them like cello, violin or native flute, letting each word flow its distance in a cadence that blends one word after another. Sometimes I do rush through a reading, because I think, who am I to stand in front of anyone and read poems. Who am I to think what I offer is worthy of anyone's ears. Still I like to engender my own flow in the moment and not be rehearsed or sing-songy, but just let the moments flow as deep and real as it need be.
If I am sad, happy, angry, proud, romantic, sexy, lonely, crazy, melancholic or bitter, I want that flavor to be expressed. I am a river, a bird or a mountain's cry, whatever those moments entail. I believe we all have our own voice, cadence and speech patterns. We must cultivate that realness, that speaking poetry in our own voice. The power of realness, as steel sharpens steel. Today I opened my poetry reading with my poem “Sag” and closed it with my poem “No beauty in cell bars” and my edge was anger.

11/10/2012

Invisible

I've been uninspired and invisible for the last few days, indeed for over a week. So much sadness and melancholy sitting in my heart like low clouds or fog in a mountain valley. Not waiting to do anything, feeling too much alone.
I've not been inspired to write even snail mails, something I adore doing.
I'm in a lull and invisible like a fish without eyes in the deepest, darkest depths of the sea. I am full of emotion, actually fears longing to roll out. I am full of passion, love and realness, but no expression. But, as I write this blog I am coming out of this lull and have started my snail mail writing as well.

11/03/2012

Michel's visit - At Night I Fly

I've just seen "At Night I Fly" for the first time. I've still not seen the short documentary "Three Poems by Spoon Jackson", that started this film history.
I must say Michel did the best job on the film and I can see why it won the Swedish Oscar and also the second biggest award in Sweden. The piece is amazing, unique, real and a blended balance of art, life prison, and the human condition everywhere.
This film touched on aspects of life and art in a way that transcended stereotypes and hatred. It'ss a blended non sentimental ballad of a film with imagery, art and words. Life and suffering at it's deepest, and most profound levels and at times a bit absurd. Something I'm sure Samuel Beckett and Barney Rosset would have appreciated. The proper balance of imagery, silence and speech which spoke for themselves. Young people are able to see from the film how prison life is and can be and not glorify it. Young folks anywhere in the world can relate to At Night I Fly.
The only thing I'm kicking myself in the ass about is how I could have been more in the film, and could have had an individual interview like the other prisoners in the film, if I would have kept my ego more in check. I was pissed off because there were limits on where I could be filmed. I told Michel the film maker forgive me and my ego for getting in the way of the production at times.
But Michel told me the way I am in the film was not perfect but fitted the entire narrative perfectly. The Spoon I am came across and I am thrilled about that. The film is a blessing. A unique, universal take on humanity, prison life and the arts. How as human beings we are all connected through darkness and light. I could be you and you me. I know it's hard to believe.
Thanks film maker brother Michel, and At Night I Fly.

- - - 
 
If you want to see the films, buy the DVD's here:



10/24/2012

Art Room: Rock & Roll

Again I sat in front of the art room reading Paolini's Brisingr Eragon and J.K Rowling's Harry Potter, first book. I thought perhaps I must read one of the H. Potter books to see what all the fuss is about. Inside the art room there's rock-n-roll. It lasts from 8:30 to around 11:00 am. Some wardens, prisoners and free staff passes by and they commented on the singing and no one of them liked the rock-n-roll singing today. The rock-n-roll is so loud sometimes you can still hear it down the corridor and on the yard. I sit and commune with the birds and warm breeze. The free staff supervisor sits outside too, during the rock-n-roll session. The blues session takes over at around 11:30. The door is left open to let the blues flow into the breeze and corridor, not closed like when the rock band plays. I like all kinds of music, blues and rock. I just want to be blown away by it.

10/09/2012

New release

Spoon's poem Go On is one of the poems in a new anthology called "Too cruel, not unusual enough". SF Bay View writes: "This book, about to be released, is made up of essays and poems by prisoners sentenced to “the other death penalty,” the long, slow, agonizing death of life in prison without hope of parole. This poem by Spoon Jackson is one of them. The editor and co-editors are also serving LWOP sentences, and the cover was designed by a prison artist."

10/07/2012

Clinic Politics - Health Care/Diabetic

The four pillars to good diabetic health are: diet, wholesome food, exercise, and monitoring of your diabetic status. I found out in 2003 that I am a Type II diabetic as I literally peed out sugar water. At times, my sugar level can be high or low, sometimes within the same day, expressing itself by making me lightheaded, faint, or giving me headaches. Due to injury to my hip and back, I was unable to walk down to Medical for a few days and I missed my diabetic treatment. When my hip and back healed enough to walk back down to the clinic, the nurse who runs the diabetic checks convinced the doctor to stop my diabetic morning treatment. I heard she said it was too much work. All the nurse does is hand over the finger stick and record the findings. How hard can that be?

Over the years here, I have met a couple nurses who had over 20 years experience inside prisons and in the outside world. Both nurses quit because they said they were not able to nurse, to do their jobs as best they can, because of the clinic politics. Both nurses retired or moved on to outside jobs. One shared with me, with tears in her eyes, the frustration of trying to do their jobs and be real nurses. The real nurses are not with the politics.

We are stuck here in prison with some nurses and doctors who do treatment on paper and in quotas and not according to any medical oaths as doctors and nurses in health care. Why be in health care anywhere if you don’t care?

I have observed that many nurses here at New Folsom just want to do the least amount of work as possible. They complain that diabetic treatment takes up too much time. Sadly, some nurses and doctors are here just for the big money and are not concerned about patients anymore than slavers were concerned about the education of slaves.

To make their jobs easier, some nurses will do anything not to call a prisoner down to the clinic to tend to the prisoner’s health. This is in order not to appear weak or to show genuine concern for a prisoner’s health. Some nurses’ and doctors’ main concerns are custody issues and not the health of prisoners. So why are they in health care?

Prison doctors and nurses have no real checks and balances, except other nurses and doctors who are questionable themselves. There used to be healthy diabetic trays back in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and part of the ‘90s. But they stopped the diet dishes to redirect that money toward the health care practitioners who barely do their jobs. Nurses and doctors who try to impress custody with how bad nasty they can treat prisoners, or to get out of treating us at all.

As diabetics here at New Folsom, we are only given the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner as non-diabetics. We have been advised not to consume most of the food on the trays and what’s left does not sustain one throughout the entire day.
The health care folks I have among my friends and family contacts in the free world, said I should be getting a special diabetic diet. And my sugar levels should be checked each day. I should be getting supplements to lower or raise my sugar levels as needed. None of this happens.


© Spoon Jackson
First published in SJRA Advocate September issue 2012
Reprinted with permission of Barbara Brooks, SJRA Advocate monthly prison newsletter.

10/04/2012

Art Room

Only one person came to check out a guitar today to play on the small yard. So I sat outside the art room and watched the sky and barked sweetly at the crows, and played my flute. Prisoners went upstairs to visit*. I tossed the geese, pigeons and black birds my bread. I had a special treat for my crow friend. There weren't any sparrows today on the backyard. So I went to the front yard and found a group of spring sparrows and watched, tweeted at them and shared the cookie I had brought for the crow. I could sit all day long under a shade tree and ponder or read.

*to the visiting room

9/04/2012

Back on lockdown

Unlock had lifted and I was just about to start my writing classes, but now all blacks on C-yard are back on race based lockdown. They say a correctional cop and a prisoner had a fight or something. Don't have any details. I have to go back to deep writng and reading.


Notice
This particular lockdown only lasted 3 or 4 days. No lockdown now, though the prison has cancelled all night programming. Given what's happening on C Facility, it's good Spoon (and other LWOPs) will be transferred to somewhat lower security prisons fairly soon.

9/03/2012

Beyond I

Drawing by Spoon
Shakespeare said,
when sorrows come
they come not as single spies
but in battalions

The lion in me is roaring
this morning, alone
but feeling all the inhumanity
of prison

I am constantly embracing
sorrows and letting them go
inviting in sunshine and spring
inviting in sweet summer rains

But this year sorrows outnumber
the rain drops and keep coming
like run-away trains

I keep embracing the sorrows
and letting them go
hoping for the best
hoping for some rest

Space to keep dreaming
Space to keep being real
Time to keep healing
Time to keep being love

Beyond labels and names
I'll keep being
until I am beyond sorrows
and pain
until I am beyond heartache
and hate
until I am beyond I

The beast in me
at peace
a calm stream in a placid
valley

© Spoon Jackson

8/26/2012

End of an era

Here at New Folsom Art room/AIC (Arts In Corrections) it's an en end of an era because they are making it impossible for LWOP to program here unless you are a trouble maker in constant trouble. They are changing C-yard to a non programming yard and transferring all long term programmers. So Marty, Ken, Spoon, Marco who run the Arts In Corrections classes, we are all up for transfer and probably all be gone by the end of the year. Not that any of us are indispensable, just that there wont be an Art room or yard to do art programs. So, I hope Alaskans and anyone else who has been a part of AIC/Art room and wants to see us together for the last time will come in as soon as possible. "Big C" who ran singing classes has already been transferred.

8/18/2012

Lockdown, ten months

They have eased up some on the lockdown only to unleash their next phase in their plan to continue making this yard a non programming yard. They are allowing some more blacks to go to work. Still I am denied work, visits and phone calls and still locked in cell almost all the time. There has not been any incident between blacks and south sider Mexicans since April, not even a frown and yet lockdown continues. I sit longing to go to work and close out my prose and poetry classes in realness. But New Folsom's plan is to not have any programs on C-yard and to bring in all the trouble makers they can, to foment continuous strife on this yard until they are ready to change it into a sensitive needs level four yard. Sad thing because this was once a progressive programming yard that rivalled most lower level prisons until the state decided to make it dysfunctional.
 

8/14/2012

Lockdown, No Drama

Unlock seems to be working, they have been releasing blacks and south sider Mexicans to go to work, store, yard and medical and nothing has happened. Still they have not allowed me to go to work. Still there are no visits or phone calls. Yard has been very controlled with one building at a time and before this past week it was one race on the yard at a time. Yesterday all races was on the yard and nothing happened. So I hope they let me go to work next week. Because due to new criteria I and all LWOP's with low points will be transferred to lower level prisons, which isn't always a blessing. It depends on where you go.
The entire Art Room (formally Arts In Corrections) workers may be transferred. My transfer may happen in September. So, I'm looking for places to send some of my property out to the streets, letters and paperwork for safe keeping. They are changing New Folsom C-facility into a lockdown hole kick out yard with no programs. Soon even the Art room will be shut down. Shut down of programs seems to be a part of the new mission at New Folsom, and they are no longer hiding that plan.
(written August 10)

8/07/2012

Go On

For Samuel Beckett

I cannot go on like this
but, I will go on
on and on even when
on is off

Something is stirring
in my soul, wanting
to burst out like a
hot spring in the desert

Wanting to come out
and I don't know
what it is, in the moment
I hope it's a poem
I hope it's a song

Something vast like Euripides
something wise and funny
like Aristophanes
something deep like Langston Hughes
so deep in the seas
where no light goes

I know what it is
I want to create my way
off this lockdown
and write my way
out of prison

They allowed redemption
once
but only condemnation now

I cannot go on
but, I will go on
on and on even when
on becomes off

Melancholic and sad
they are letting some
lifers go home
some, I have known for a lifetime
and that's a good thing

Yet, there is no end
in sight for me
and I don't know
anymore where to go
to get strength to go on

I don't know where
to go to leave
this sadness and pain
and make my heart sing again
and make my spirit soar again

Everywhere I look
there is a big sign
that says no
no forgiveness, no love
no hope, no second chance
no dreams, no romance

I cannot go on
but, I will go on
on and on even when
on becomes off

But, I have nowhere
to go
nowhere that says
yes

Yes, it's okay to dream
for some come true
yes, it's okay to hope
for freedom is free
yes, it's okay to love
for love can be true

I sit here in the moment
in melancholic limbo
why keep dipping into
an empty well

I cannot go on
I will go on
even when on
becomes off and
I have nowhere to go

© Spoon Jackson

7/24/2012

Bird Stuff Suite in July

Drawing by Spoon
Turkeys

It's warm and windy out. The tall blondish brown grass is swaying on the other side of the razor and electric fences. The grasses, dancing to Mother Earth's song. A few blackbirds and cowbirds just outside the window. Looking out I saw the mother turkey and beside her the baby turkey I had seen weeks ago. It is about four or five times bigger. They cross the dirt road to the boulder field, where in the distance the hills fall into a drop, some kind of valley and more sky. It was so great to see the baby turkey is still striving and growing.
I don't know which side of the dirt road and fields the mother turkey and its baby lives on. I never see them walking up the road at late dusk near the fences like grown gobblers and turkeys without babies. I imagine they travel under the cover of tall grasses, there must be a route through the grasses and tiny hills.
Wait! Wow, amazing, moments ago I spoke about not seeing any mother turkeys and their young walking up the road towards where I imagine the turkey trek, looking out the window I see two mother turkeys walking up the road with about twelve chicks! I guess the young are quick and strong enough to bring out in the open now.

Early

The next day, after the rains I got up early and watched the grass outside my window to see if the brown grass had greened any since the night rains.
The sky over the fields, by the tree and small hills are filled again with swallows darting about. A true dove is back on the razor wire. The squirrel is in the shade under the tree on his second look out boulder, where weeks ago I saw the turkey hen hanging out with her baby. I don't know what you call a baby turkey. I wonder what the squirrel is watching.
Maybe there wasn't enough rain, enough wet for the fields of wild grass to turn green. I'll await the true dove and watch the dusk from the window.

Lime yellow canary

I waited at dusk again looking out of the thin thick window hoping to see the new geese family. The turkeys pass on their way home from the feeding fields. The gobblers follow the hens. The males hang out in groups of threes. Their legs are like long popsickle sticks. I wait and again the true wing-tail dove appear atop of the razor wire, only four feet up from the lethal electric fence.
I put a window cover in, but something keeps making noise and I take the covers out of the window and see a tiny lime yellow-green canary staring and fluttering up and down the window. We stared at eachother a few moments before it flew away.

Smile

A new day and the bushy tailed ground squirrel is standing tall on one of his look-out boulders near the shaggy evergreen tree. I was so blessed yesterday to see two wild mother turkeys taking a rambunctious group of baby turkeys up the road to the turkey tree. First time I ever saw that. It made my day. I suppose my day isn't hard to make. A smile can do that too.
Peace and realness

Bird feast

I see now what countless swarms of insects the swallows, starlings, cow birds, red winged blackbirds, crows, kill deer and some other kind of birds I don't know the name of, that spread their wings like a cape or umbrella to shade the ground as they catch something to eat.
I don't think the true ring-tailed doves or pigeons were eating the tiny insects. They are on the cell window right now. They hop and fly like tiny grasshoppers. They definitely have been the feast the swallows and other birds filled their bellies with. There must be tons of them, for more than ten days the birds have been feasting and yet at dusk today, I still see the insects boldly all over the window sill, darting about in the sunsetting sky and I think the birds must be sated or burnt out for the moment.

Twitter and Facebook

Spoon is now on Twitter. Tweets also appear on the public Spoon Jackson Facebook page. These are started to try to help promote the blog and Spoon's books.

The Editor

7/15/2012

Bogged Down (Jim Crow)

Mass incarceration for a whole
generation of the poor
so that the one-percent
can fill their pockets and soar

A lockdown for all the black and brown
in all the cities and towns
You have no keys to the doors
and no carpets on the floors

The walls are already closed
in on you chosen before you are born
leaving you no place to go
sometimes no place to feel

Cages are opened from the outside
but, transcended from the inside
Sometimes you must close your eyes
and the walls will fall

Mass incarceration for a whole
generation of the poor
so that the one-percent
can fill their pockets and soar

They bog you down
in the worse parts of town
low or no income and low
or no education

They tell you, you have no keys
to life, no value and no souls
that you are forever
criminals, gangsters, hustlers and hos'

Ghettos and barrios, starving,
homeless, hopeless, fatherless, loveless
places, with liquor stores, cops
economic faces and educational and judicial traps

Mass incarceration for a whole
generation of the poor
so that the one-percent
can fill their pockets and soar

You are deemed a criminal
and disposable in their eyes
even before you are born
and fodder for their mass incarceration farm

The new caste system to waste
the youth, while the one-percent
who owns the drug profits legal
and illegal, rich and poor

War on drugs war on crime, war on black
and brown youth is a pipeline to clown
suits, a smoke screen
to mass incarceration

Mass incarceration of young men
fathers and sons lives
who are having no other options
do what they must to survive

Survive in this society
where all they have to do
is see you as a criminal
that makes you expendable

A new caste system to waste
a whole generation of poor blacks
and browns, with no human rights
and a scapegoat for all America's woes

Mass incarceration for a whole
generation of the poor
so that the one-percent
can fill their pockets and soar

Why is the war on drugs
waged only against the poor?
Who owns no land, no ships, no planes
no ware houses, no barges, no stores, no trains

Mass incarceration of a whole
generation can set in motion
for all the smallest infraction
a lifetime of commotion

A lifetime of incarceration
no way to clean the slate
especially in California, the richest
mass incarceration state

No matter what you do
it's still your fate
in California the mass incarceration state
in California the mass incarceration state

© Spoon Jackson



7/11/2012

Winter and spring gone

Winter and spring gone, all spent on lockdown. Now the seventh month, still only black prisoners are on total lockdown and still only because of the color of their skin.
My skin longs to be touched and blessed by the sun as I look out of the window and watch the warmth lay on the blondish grasses. On the other side of the two razor topped fencing and lethal electric wire, the grasses are taller and a more blondish tan near the squirrel boulders. No direct sunlight ever shines through these boney cell windows, although it's dusk and the sky is heavy with sun. I can feel none on my skin. My once dark skin is now high brown.

7/01/2012

The Brave Six

Lockdown continues, going on six months now, so I don’t have my writing classes to teach. Fortunately, Professor Tom Kerr, who teaches writing at Ithaca College in New York, contacted me to do the Brave Six project with a new batch of young students at his school. Tom and I first orchestrated this essay/letter correspondence with his Ithaca college students and my New Folsom writing students in 2008. We have done this project now three or four times.  It has been an enlightening journey for both free world students and my incarcerated writing classes.

Just this week Tom wrote me with a new batch of questions from both his persuasive and argumentative writing classes. Because of the lockdown, I cannot contact my students, so I answered all the questions myself and sent them in.

The Brave Six projects started when my friend Margot, from Switzerland, sent me a printed-out copy of Tom Kerr’s web page and his address. She wondered why, though I had many projects going on with people in Europe (mentoring students as well as film, book and song writing projects) I had few in the USA and she suggested I write Professor Kerr. I read that Tom had worked with well-known writers on Death Row at San Quentin and that he saw them as human beings. I felt there must be some realness there inside Tom, some courage – an honest appreciation for the power of words, forgiveness, love, service, redemption, change, education and growth.

I pondered Tom’s information for about a year and then sent him my articles, “Speaking in Poems” and “Shining in Darkness.” I had no expectations and figured he might enjoy the articles, but that I would not hear anything back.

Weeks later I received a letter from Tom telling me how the two articles had inspired and primed him... Read the whole essay at ALT/space published June 12.

6/30/2012

Road to injustice

I was reluctant to read “The New Jim Crow” Michelle Alexander's book at first, being incarcerated myself, I thought what could I learn? How much more injustice in America could I stand to ponder and read about. I am living this moment in prison inside a race based lockdown and the courts and system don't care. I know and live inside the mass incarceration of black and brown people, and it's not hidden or a secret. I've lived it first hand as the prison system has grown in California and become more racist, program less, unforgiving and cruel since the nineteen seventies. What could I glean from this book?
Well, immediately, I looked into the mirror and saw and felt every word on each page of her book, and it broke my heart, but not my spirit. I saw how the courts, prosecution, law enforcement, politicians and American media set up this so called war on drugs and crime as a smoke screen for their true intention which was and is the New Jim Crow - - to incarcerate, bog down and enslave as many black and brown people as possible. Thereby marking, branding the young people for life. They may as well had gotten a branded iron and put it on the sides of the youth's faces. Even people who get out of prison physically are set up for failure.
The courts and government don't care if lockdowns or roundups of people of color are based on race and color of skin, it's as welcome as the morning sun. The courts say racism or race based actions are harmless error. Often the courts are saying in essence that if you don't use the word “nigger” out loud or say out loud an action based on race it's fine to lockdown blacks and harass them just because of skin color.
You may not see the hanging trees that line the roads of injustice across America, all the way to the Supreme Court, but hanging from those trees are black men, young and old. When a system of justice is shown over and over again to be racist and unjust and the courts say, well, just a harmless error, and prove it, it is like telling a man with both legs chopped off that they are still there.

6/21/2012

Pipeline

Spoon is back with a new essay in SJRA Advocate.

When I was five years old, I anxiously awaited my turn to cross the field and go up the old wooden stairs across the railroad bridge to school, as thirteen of my brothers had before me. The older kids seemed happy to go and they stayed all day long. I thought the fun must be endless.
When I finally got there, I was slapped by the kindergarten teacher I had a crush on, Ms. Tereese, because of a fight I had with another boy. I was paddled from the second grade on and beaten with extension cords and water hoses at home. I failed every course e, from reading to math, and yet it was as though no one cared. By the fourth grade, I was told by the vice principal that I was no good and that I would never graduate from high school. Although I proved him wrong, I was passed from year to year even though I didn’t how to read or write. I did not know what a subject or verb was, or how to do simple fractions. I attended classes doped up, smoked out, smelling like weed and liquor. Apparently no one noticed.
I had choices I didn’t see growing up....(read the reaming part in SJRA Advocate)

6/19/2012

Life is precious

Inspired by Marina Baric, student from Sweden. 

Thanks for your questions, I answer them only for myself. You asked, “what kind of insight and what kind of thing, dream or thought can make a man feel like he has the right to take another person's life?” There is no such right for me or any person, entity or government to take a life. I believe life is to be cherished and celebrated and nurtured.
I have never set out to take a life or dreamed of killing someone, but I did. And after, sitting here in prison almost 35 years later I can still say I have never set out to take a life and I do not dream of doing so.
There are some ignorance, unawareness and awful economic situations that contributes to the loss of lives and people justify the killings the same way the governments justifies the Death Penalty and Life Without Parole. For me anyway, trying to justify a killing is an excuse.
There are all kinds of environmental, sociological, religious, psychological and governmental reasons one uses for taking a life, all are still excuses. There are quick and long killings practised and sanctioned by most of these entities and yet none of those are justified in truth and realness. Sometimes one isn't aware of how precious life is and have not yet felt the truth.
There is no such thing as a just war or just killing. All life is precious.
Life is precious when we begin to see, think and feel in the moment and by seeing ourselves and our lives in other human beings or other creatures, dogs, cats, birds, horses, any plants or animals. Then we know that by taking their lives, one takes one's own life. So as you said, “a person that ever thinks about taking someone else's life, maybe isn't appreciating their own life”. If we know it's our own heart we are blowing up, stabbing, shooting or beating, perhaps then we can show love and how life is precious.
Vi är en klippa!
Spoon

Peace G

Peace G
Sharing books and songs
Dances and dreams
Instead of bullets and bombs
Wisdom and peace
Instead of greed and war

Peace G. building bridges
and wells
Instead of tearing them
down

We grow from our missteps
sharing forgiveness and mercy
instead of revenge and hate

Peace G. we walk each
in our own shoes
and as one, one people,
one planet, sharing many
cultures

We walk embracing the real
in all of them
coming together in peace,
truth and realness

© Spoon Jackson
Sept 2010

6/06/2012

Why not At Night I Fly, America?

The documentary, masterfully made by Michel Wenzer and Story Film, who poured their lives, hearts, tears, art and endless sweat into this film to make it all the way real and unique, why At Night I Fly was not even accepted in the smallest film festivals in America is a disgrace and a disrespect to the truth, real art, real film and enlightenment.
At Night I Fly won the two greatest awards in Sweden and was recognized for its outstanding vision and realness in every European country it appeared in as a great, unique, insightful and needed documentary.
Yet, the documentary film industry in America did not embrace At Night I Fly, USA is known for not embracing the real and mainly want the fake and phoney, unredeeming stuff to be given to an auduence. Stories and stuff that keep the stereotypes flowing and the masses drugged and dumbfounded with illusions of how honorable and true the USA media and documentary industry is.
When in fact, the documentary industry and media in general in America can't care less about truth, true art and realness and promotes whatever the prison officials or government officials tell them is the truth even when it's a lie. There is a ban on allowing media to come inside California prisons and the media does nothing to fight it.
At Night I Fly unveiled the truth in art in prison, justice and injustice. The media in America, liberal and conservative have all been paid off. They don't even try to come inside to know the truth. The prison allowed the great Oprah Winfrey to send in Lisa Ling to do a documentary but only if she did it on the negative aspects of prison and mainly the fabricated side of prison life. They ignored the truth and true art and realness going on behind these walls.
It is a shame that American media is not independent and has no back-bone for promoting the truth. Whatever the state and prison officials send out to them they print and show as gospel. No heart, no courage, no realness.
What I say to you brother Michel and Story Film and all the prisoners and staff that were in At Night I Fly, you told a real story of art, truth, hope and penology, of darkness and light, the realness and depth of art, hope and incarceration.
I thank you Michel and Story!
America has a history of hiding the truth or hiding from the truth. A history of not wanting the real out there.
Vi är en klippa och jag är stolt to be African Swedish. Continue the realness struggles!
Love, peace and hope!
For brother Michel, Story and Peace G's

6/02/2012

Middle of Spring

Lockdown based on race continues with no end in sight. There was a rumour that they would change their ways and base lockdown on whatever gangs or inmates were involved in the incident.* But then the prison changed their mind. There is more profit in keeping as many blacks on lockdown as possible. Blacks are still the only people here on total lockdown.
So it looks like I'll miss spring too. I already missed winter. In a few days it will be seven months of lockdown. My heart and spirit waned for a moment or two and I ended up in the hole. My realness people family, Peace G's and friends from Sweden, Norway and Germany had my back and because of them my heart and spirit stays inspired and full of love, peace growth and realness. Blessings and hugs to all. Things will get better.

*The incident referred to is a riot in November 2011(editor's note)

5/28/2012

Lockdown day 187

I felt my muscles getting weaker, so I started my work out program a couple of weeks ago. I do sit ups amd stretcheing before I get up to brush my teeth, and then I do push ups, pull ups, back arms and squats. I do my walking back and forth in the cell. I let the thin window be my television and view of the world. It has been a month without my property, so I don't have my address book, toothpaste, lotion, soap, paper, pens and my writing material to meet my deadlines.
The tooth powder they give us to brush our teeth with, even some guards have warned me not to use.
Fortunately my Swedish brothers Jan and Göran have sent me some books to read and Judith, my sister has sent in various reading stuff and Barbara Brooks brilliant SJRA Advocate Journal which keeps me updated on all the news on the prison system.
In realness
Spoon

5/15/2012

Last Sunday in April

I have not seen a bird yet this morning. Yesterday rock doves, true winged doves, seagulls, crows, geese, red tail hawks, and killdeer were everywhere all morning as I looked out of the window.
I wonder is Mother Earth or Earth Mother holding church somewhere in the hilly wilderness way beyond the prison and by noon or dusk some birds will appear. I think perhaps they all make peace today and don't prey on eachother. Deer lying down with wolves, coyotes and mountain lions. Red tailed hawks holding wings with doves. Bear and mouse walking shoulder to shoulder. A sparrow lands on a bob cat's nose and they toy with eachother like old friends. Turkey vultures flying high. Peace Love
Spoon

Editor's note
Just want to remind new readers that Spoon don't have access to computers or the internet and his handwritten letters often takes weeks to reach their destination so blog posts are always a bit delayed.

5/11/2012

True story – Hearing voices

Still on lockdown, so they handcuff and chain you up any time you get out of the cell, mainly for medical and even for showers handcuffed.
Anyways, I had a dental appointment and I sat in the chair as the dentist explained to me how my teeth grinding had worn down my two front teeth. He had actually done a good job explaining things. I am there chained up as the dentist cleans and inspects my teeth with dental tools, scraping and poking asking me a bunch of questions and he wanted answers and I answer him as best I can as he continue to work on me. Finally he says,
I've heard your voice somewhere before”
Yeah!”
“..on the radio KPFA, or something.. You are..”
Spoon Jackson”
Yes, you wrote a book and you are a poet!”
I said “Yes, that's me”.
It was crazy and cool how this dentist knew who I was by my voice alone even through dental instruments poking around.

Stay real
Continue the realness struggles
Spoon

At Night I Fly - on DVD

At Night I Fly and Three Poems by Spoon Jackson are now available on dvd at Story Film!

5/02/2012

Lockdown still going - Fake Sky

Spring is slowly passing on and lockdown have already consumed winter and now eating into spring.
I was in the hole for 12 days and now I am out and back on C-yard. But they have not given me my property so I don't have my adress book or letters from folks I need to answer like brothers Jan, Jimmy and Michel.
They have deepen the darkness of the lockdown and it's now almost the start of my six month in the cage. I am a little tired, but my heart is still full of love, peace and realness.
I am happy to say that ”At Night I Fly” went on Swedish TV April 20. So perhaps hundreds or thousands of people saw it. I hope so.
The hole cage was no fun and I've lost weight, but thats okay.

FAKE SKY

Back on mainline
out of the hole
they call Stand Alone
where you sit in a concrete cave,
no outside window or light

Concrete bunks, with a
concrete almost table
close to the bunk
no stool to sit there

Only a pen filler to write
they have a three inch wide,
by three feet fake sky window
that leads to nowhere
and you cannot see
out of

I see sky and spots
on the window sill
trying to figure out
which are birds
or just dirt or stains
on the thick pane