Writing From the Inside Out

Spoon writes for The Good Men Project: 
What is a good man to me?

A good man walks in his own shoes, and as a human being seek to balance in a nonviolent way his one foot in darkness and one foot in light. Some of us, bad like myself, had to transform into good, and you can imagine how hard it can be when in prison. I walked in darkness as a youngster and as a result I encountered deep life changing darkness. I could have enveloped myself in this darkness and become worse, but I chose to balance the darkness with light and love and realness. I chose to walk in my own shoes.
It took a deep fall for me to see the light about myself and share the realness and talents inside me. (I speak about my journey in my memoir book By Heart and in my poetry book Longer Ago)
I had to be real and not allow myself to hurt or destroy lives, but to build up lives with wisdom, love, peace, understanding and shared struggles.
I have been incarcerated now for 36 years, and transformed from a young troublemaker to someone who cares for and mentors young folks. I encourage them to to know themselves and to walk in their own shoes and....Read the whole article at The Good Men Project



By Spoon Jackson

The call for racial peace came from Pelican Bay SHU - the hole - and I read about it in the San Francisco Bay View, where my poem “Go On” was published. I think that was a brave, human, and needed call for racial harmony. Since I’m a believer in peace and realness - one people, one race - I must echo their cry and add my voice to the chorus. I think it is a call all peace groups around the world, inside and outside of prisons would welcome.
I always tell my creative writing classes that you must stand up for what is human, true, and real. You must stand up for how we want our children, parents, grandparents, and spouses to live. Who would want loved ones to live in violence anywhere on the planet? It is a call to peace, love, growth, truth, and harmony. No one wants to see their sons or daughters in a bloody pool on the side walk or in someone’s back or front yard, or in some prison yard or cell.
We must pay the peace call forward. We must call for racial peace among all prisons, not only in California, but around the world. It is said you know society by its prisons, and if are a microcosm of society, it is time to make harmonious change inside, and perhaps peace will spill over to the free world. We can hold peace and love in our hearts like a sunset, ocean breeze, or soft bird song.
In my family, there are many colors and cultures. One of my grandmothers was half Caddo Indian. I have brothers married to Asian, Mexican, White, Native American, and Black. I appreciate them all and I am happy my family is like it is.
I have shared the call for peace article with blacks, browns, and whites. I’ll share some of their words in this article. This call may translate to the streets, if only to affect a few people, a few youngsters. It is time to embrace, each moment, and repeat what Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and John Lennon said about unconditional peace. I cannot sit idle as a poet and artist, while brothers of all colors in the hole call for racial peace and not echo those thoughts, vibes, hopes, and wishes.
We are all human beings and something that affects one of us touches all of us. Nothing human is foreign to any of us.

The Way Light Breaks Apart
By Marty Williams

I don’t believe for a moment that someone doesn’t see race. It looks back at me like a mirror image of everything I’m not sure of within myself. I clique, I flock, I herd, and the struggle to do otherwise makes me dizzy with anxiety. My phony holiness says, “There is no race,” but if that were true, the history of the world would be much different, and chains would mean something else entirely. But here I am, and my liberal guilt wants to prove to you how very inclusive I am, while the truth is I don’t know enough about how deep my own racial preference is buried. So what I want is first to just know what I’m missing, to know the depth of someone else’s difference, and the depth of where we are the same. First meet me on the field, and then I’ll deserve to live with you, and you with me. Not in harmony (another phony holy ideal), but in human beingness, that needs us to be different, the way light breaks apart into colors. One light. We are just colors.

Our Struggle
by O.G. Woody, Watts (Solid & True)

I’m Brown, he’s Black, you’re White, so what?
The question is not why, the question is how. How did we let ourselves become so divided, so narrow-minded, to where we can’t see the pain that we’ve caused ourselves in our own struggle? Racism is the wall that blocks our vision to a future vast and beautiful.
Wake up! Open your eyes! This struggle is real. The pain that you have inside is the same pain that I feel. This is our struggle; our struggle is real. What will it take for our kids not to have to go through this pain that we face? What will it take for us to be just one human race? This is a battle that we can’t afford to lose.
A better future is what we choose. How grand will this world be if you would only look past my color and see me? Get to know me, know who I am, and look into my heart. All I’m asking for is just a start. Though I’ll continue to try, I know I can’t do this alone. But I’m doing my part here within this poem. So stand at my side, every color and creed, open your minds so that we may succeed.

How Do You Improve Race Relations?
By Soto

Race relations are quite difficult to come to a successful outcome where everybody is
respectful and loving. I have always said that in order to resolve a problem, one must conduct an inner examination, come to terms with its causes.
As a society and young country, it would benefit us to learn about our dealings with Asians, Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics. The learning of culture should be done not only as current events. The study should go as far as the very foundation of this great nation. Although it would be extremely difficult to be objective when learning about racism, genocide, injustice, and straight out executions, this step of acknowledgement must be taken as soon as a young mind is able to comprehend the paths between right and wrong. Once the true history of races is known, the second step should be a quick course of culture learning. This course would involve a study of any given race’s religion, music, spiritually, costume, dances, sports, etc.
Without a true knowledge of other races, costumes, and habits, a peaceful and understanding relation among different races would be impossible.

How Do You Improve Race Relations?
By Joseph Ennis

Well, this is a big issue, bigger than one could imagine, though not so big that we can overlook or ignore it. In my opinion, to im-prove race relations you first must find common ground between two open-minded people. The ways of growing up are all similar, even if in a different place or street. Relations can be built on real life events and experiences, and what I may find in common, three can, then five can, and so forth.
Change is the most fearful thing one can experience. I know ‘cause I’m a walking testimony. That’s what it’s all about though, not being afraid of change, positive change. Just think of the doors that can open through having a good relationship with someone not from your own race. Why shut those doors? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I don’t know it all. And if the next person knows more, or even less, that’s someone I could learn from, no matter the race.

Simply Saying Good Morning
By V. Tapia

Racism has its periods and changes of heart. I guess some people just need a key moment or to hear words of gratification to make them feel at peace with a different race. My moments of peace, while riots were occurring in prison, came through words of gratification expressed through the vent in my cell, directed towards my neighbours. These were a simple good morning or good night. And my moment of peace was when my neighbour put the trust in me to lend me a book, even though tensions were high between our two races. We found the key mo-ment and words to look past our difference and vibe together.
That’s what it’s about, coming together and sharing. Whether it’s a moment of your time or simply saying good morning or good night.


Reststops, Death

Our bodies are reststops on spaceless voyages beyond doom. Speaking with one of my best friends about death she brought up how “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” is almost like a bible to many Buddhists. She speaks on (bardo) transition between the moment of death up until 49 days later, where you are supposed to have another existence. If you did good and knew how to act, you may be reborn into a realm for the good. Otherwise, you may enter terrible realms where suffering is legio. I told her it does sound like the Christian views of heaven and hell. For me death is a transition, and can appear at the strangest times. Even a seemingly healthy person riding a bicycle everyday may drop dead. I suppose we will all find out in our own ways and collectively by and by what or if anything comes in the hereafter. We will then find out the true phase after we pass, die or transition beyond the body.
When I think of the hereafter, about death and passing, it must be a beautiful state and place without the body. An unencumbered place of unlimited space, growth, expansion, flying, loving and realness. I cannot imagine ugly unenlightening states or things there like hate, racism, sexism, revenge or violence. All those states and conditions will be left in the physical realm. I cannot see the madness of this physical realm carried over to a bodyless world. I cannot see this madness as a part of a spiritual realm, a place without a body.


Before dawn

I did my sit ups, curls, push ups, back arms and leg work. Made a cup of coffee, with cream and sugar-free chocolate. Looking out the thin thick window I see does... deer under the boulder tree, nibbling around in the extra dry brown grasses and weeds, mingling in the long leaves of the tree. The deer are unimpressed by the prison trucks and cars that pass by. Autumn with a late spring sun. I haven't seen any bucks around the does under the tree. Perhaps all three are young deer and their sex is not yet expressed.