Missing Godot

The actor John Goodman wrote me a letter about how he had played ”Big Baby” Pozzo in ”Waiting for Godot” a couple of years ago on Broadway, with my long time friend Bill Irwin. What a treat it was to get his letter and it brought back memories of when I played Pozzo “Big Baby” on stage at San Quentin.
You know what hurts my soul, is that sometimes I watch a movie, a TV show and scenes I know I could have brought to life with endless depth, power and realness. I know I could have brought such feeling, that I just want to sit and cry, why? Why bless me with such depth of seeing and feeling, with such depths of love and empathy and not be able to display such talent. Oh, why must a wildflower wither and go away when the sun forever shines...
In Peace


Color of skin

In December, I sat in front of the art room as a fellow artist ran his music theory class inside the room. I saw the watch office clerks look up the hill to the upper basketball court. I sat there knowing that I wouldn‘t be getting my week-end visit from my friend visiting from Sweden, and that the reason would be based solely on the color of my skin.
Everyone, even the birds, knew there would be friction and troubles after months of over-loading the big yard with one particular gang. The state chose to set this yard up for failure, bringing in dynamics everyone knew would combust.
It has been nearly a decade since this kind of disturbance happened on the big yard of C-Facility. Why the state has chosen to rearrange the dynamics of this yard, making its structure ripe for violence, is the question.
I sat there looking at the watch office clerks gazing up the hill in silence, as if they saw a tornado. Moments later, the yard erupted with gunfire, yelling, rubber bullets and tear gas. Prison and medical staff rushed to and fro. Some staff stood in front of the watch office waiting until some clouds of gas subsided up the hill.
The sally port officer locked the gate to the art room. The entire area where I work was now fenced in; the hospital, visiting, maintenance, library and computer class are in this corridor. One nurse yelled, - They won‘t stop.

First word on the local news was that there were around 50 black and Mexican-American prisoners fighting. Later it went from 50 to 150. Now it‘s March and we‘re still locked down. In my cell, I hear what happened in Florida. A young black kid, seventeen years old, was shot down, killed, just because he walked down the street, and the killer wasn‘t even arrested or charged. The authorities decided that the killing of an unarmed young man was justified to protect the shooter‘s constitutional rights. When did walking down the streets or the color of someone‘s skin become a crime? Here it is, 2012, and the California‘s Department of Corrections is still doing race-based lockdowns. Confinement based only on skin color, not any collective wrong doing. This kind of treatment is immoral, un-American, and separatist.
If a prisoner, no matter the color of his or her skin, has not been in any trouble in six months, a year, five years, ten years or twenty years, why are they on lockdown? Or - modified program, which is a new trick and term used by CDC when only some prisoners or one race is on lockdown. Lockdown or modified program? There is no difference between dirt and sand. This kind of treatment of prisoners feeds into such horrible events as what happened to that seventeen year old black youth in Florida.
According to a complaint filed by Prison Law Office in 2011, California is unusual, perhaps unique, among US state prison systems in imposing race-based lockdowns. Such inhumane treatment violates international human rights and is unconstitutional.
You have prisoners of all colors in California, prisoners who just want to program, to do their time and self-rehabilitate. Yet these people, particularly at Level Four prisons, are being punished over and over again, not based on any rule violation, but because of the color of their skin.
I have been back here in New Folsom since 2005 without experiencing any major racial strife. Which at first was a shock because I was here in the late 1980s when such madness was commonplace. Now, for a long time, this yard was relatively peaceful. Until this recent influx of prisoners politicking heavy. What a shame on prisoners, administrators, correctional officers, guards and the public. When will content of character matter? When will forgiveness matter?

Reprinted with permission of Barbara Brooks, SJRA Advocate monthly prison newsletter.


My First Bicycle

My first bike, like my first love, or first kiss, one never forgets. I did not have much growing up, as for store bought items. But our yard, the fields, river bottom, and Crooks Street was like a lost land full of treasures. We used to take spoke-less bicycle rims and roll them down Crooks Street with clothes hangers. All of our stuff, the green house, the front and back yard, the chicken, rabbit, pig, pigeon and dog pens where raggedy. The backyard, and dry soft river bottom sands where littered with junk; plank and plywood, old railroad track logs, plastics, oil drums, old washing machines, car rims and tires, and worn out gutted old cars. There were assorted sized planks and bits of wood piled in disarray for building fires in big oil drums.
Our three and a half bedroom house, plus the two trailers were all tattered. The wooden fence around the front yard holey and non existent in some places no board at all. All was shabby, but beautiful and fertile for my imagination. I invented my own adventures and we made our own toys. I remember lying down on tiny sand dunes on the side of our house next to a shady tree and watched a sand monster spit dust up from tiny reversed pyramid sand pits causing the fleeing ants to slip and sink to the bottom and disappear. I watched the ant monsters endlessly and had my desert and animals to run in and with.

I was six or seven years old that Christmas morning when I received my first bicycle. A cherry red one speed miniature bike, no training wheels. Stingray bikes weren't out yet. I grabbed it and rushed outside to Crooks Street and learned to ride on the fly, by trial and error. My bike was my tractor, my chariot and my flying machine. I rode into trees, fences and got caught in soft river bottom sands.
It took me a while to learn how to use the brakes. I crashed into everything I can think of, and I jumped back up on my bike, smiling. I wonder what happened to that bicycle. Do you have a First bike story to share?

© Spoon Jackson



No changes and still not allowed visits, canteen, phone calls or any yard. However, today and yesterday, they released four southern Mexicans and four blacks to talk on the yard and they did not attack eachother. So maybe things will change. But then I got the April store list where still only black prisoners are not allowed to buy food at the store. So they may take April away too. I have not seen any of last winter and I have not been allowed to smell spring, and yet my heart and spirit is full of sweet melancholic love and realness. Thanks to you realness folks and Peace G's who believe in me. Remember to continue the realness struggles and remember to be love and push for freedom and Mother Earth always!
In Peace and Realness


Lockdown, continued

Still no end in sight, although they have allowed blacks to talk among themselves once this week on the big yard. Still no work, no yard, no visits, and no time out of the cell. The fourth month and winter is almost gone.
But I love the rain and in the crack in the window I can see it, and the rains commune with my heart and spirit. I even saw a goose grazing in the wet muddy grass this morning. It is the kind of rain I like most when it is not cold or windy. One can sit out in the rain with a friend and feel wet and warm. At night take a rain shower in the forest or streams.
Stay Real Realness people