Poem by one of my students and friend.

Wind blows harder
Green grass tilts its bodies

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

On clothes
On shoulders
On faces
On our lives. 

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.


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!


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.


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)


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.



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.


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.


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.