Eat and sleep here

I was asked in what ways can a cell be home. A cage for me in no way can ever be home. It is a structure designed to humiliate and to keep you inhuman, hard, and frustrated. The caged bird, or any imprisoned animal, does not sing because he thinks of his cage as home. It is just the opposite. If I could even imagine this cell as home, that would mean I accept the hanging and wasting of hearts and souls. That would mean I accept the inhumane treatment, the bars, the slavery, the politics, the walls and electric fences as home.
Some people say home is where your heart is and my heart has never been in or at home in prison. My spirit has never been encased in concrete and steel. My dreams have never been harnessed like oxen.
I would rather live as a spiritual hobo or bum, or live in silence, never to speak or write another word, before I would allow this prison system to be my home. Death would be better.

I only eat and sleep here. Yes, I can sit and drink a cup of coffee, read, and ponder things, and look at the backside of another cell block or, if I am lucky, see a distant tree or a far away mountain. Yet that does not make a cage home. This cell could never be home where I can meet people, fellow artists in an art room, and call ourselves friends or even family. And yet, because I am transferred, we can no longer exist or be friends, can no longer continue to nurture a flow. We cannot be human with each other because of rules set to keep prisoners inhuman. Any rule, no matter where set in motion, just to keep a human being from being human is not a good rule or one to believe in.
All the things that make one human, that connect me to humanity everywhere, is not in this cell but in my heart, spirit and soul.
Even now, in the past, in the art room at New Folsom with guests from the free world sharing poetry, songs, and music, that magic took me away from prison to Sweden, Alaska, or some other place beyond walls. Doing “Waiting for Godot” back in San Quentin, where I played Pozzo, freed me from the confines of prison and allowed me only to eat and sleep here.
I don’t think in impossibilities much because I am often an idealistic fool. For me it is impossible to think of a cage as home. Home is where humanity is nurtured and encouraged.

First published in the SJRA Advocate Oct 2013 issue