Will be grabbing his own ass
When they lock him up
Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
It was only a minute between bins (searching
For the will I am to be the will that is Shakespeare),
Amid the critically grey patches of C.P. Snow
And/or the redundantly anthological: Ancient American
British Byzantine Greek Modern Oriental Women World . . .
I was singing down bargain barrows and stalls,
Intoning e.e. cummings, refraining A.A. Milne,
Reading stormy pages from Lear to hear the fear
Of the real in his nonsense and the queer nonsense
Of the real in fools, kings, verses, hearses, pussies and owls…
But as if out of those untitled leaves of time,
You came to sift the bins with crisp feminine whispers
That feather-fingered in litany down my spine,
Searching for Early This, Late That, or Posthumous The Other
And the forgotten period allusions of Last Name Only:
“He is the most important of the Fitzgeralds,
After all,” you declaimed ambiguously to Children.
Then, after hovering like a muse in Religion,
You genuflected briefly at Travel. “He may have written
Something about Algiers and Alexandria, at that time, as well.”
You can what you’re able to do, O Lex
Legendi! In pencil skirt and penciled eyes,
You index finger put to crimson lips collects
By their purse the pebbled pearls of Demosthenes,
While other letters scatter, inspirited by your catalog
Of silence. Thus, overdue, my love was indexed:
Like the frank contents in an earnest table;
The sincerely erotic in the merely episodic;
The Dick Diver in my translation, the Calypso in yours;
Never again to leave this lovely, enchanted, bookmarked aisle.
*I tried to post this on Rufus McCain’s Facebook Page in honor of his being put in charge of the prison library and license plate pressings. Naturally, I made a hash of it – so hopefully he’ll see this and post it himself on his page…
Maybe all week, all year … maybe your whole life.
In keeping to the old prisoner/work relief thread running through this blog, I refer you to theThe Marshall Project’s interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, convicted of murdering two fast food managers in Birmingham in 1985. 29 years old at the time, Hinton was sent to death row. He was released last week after spending 30 years there, much of it in solitary confinement.
In solitary confinement, a lot of people break up. They lose their mind, they give up, they commit suicide. Tell me about your experience. How you were able to hold onto yourself?
I come from a Christian background. My mom was strict. She always would instill in us that we don’t need anybody to actually play with. Get outside and play by yourself. She taught me to lean on Jesus and no one else. And when I got to death row, believe it or not, I witnessed people hanging. I seen people cut their wrist. I seen blood leaking from under the cell. I seen men who hung themselves. And so I became a person that got wrapped up in my sense of humor, and I tried to make everybody that I came in contact with — from prison guard to the wardens to the inmates — I tried to make everybody laugh. I would see a guard come by and I would say, “Hey officer.” He’d say, “Yeah Anthony, what can I do for you?” I’d say, “I need to run to the house for about an hour, and I’m gonna need to use your car. I’ll bring it right back, but I need to go.” And they would laugh.
You have to understand something: These crooked D.A.s and police officers and racist people had lied on me and convicted me of a horrible crime for something I didn’t do. They stole my 30s, they stole my 40s, they stole my 50s. I could not afford to give them my soul. I couldn’t give them me. I had to hold onto that, and the only thing that kept me from losing my mind was my sense of humor. There’s no man who’s able to go in a cell by yourself, and you’re there for 23, sometimes 24 hours a day, and you don’t come out. There’s not a human being that can withstand that pressure unless there’s something greater inside of him. And the spirit was in me where I didn’t have to worry about killing myself.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Satan didn’t come up on me and tell me, Well you ain’t never gonna get out of here. When I saw people going to be executed, every man in there would tell you he questions himself — is that ever going to happen to me? And when that little voice comes and says, Well they’re going to get you the next time, I would immediately tell him to get thee behind me, and I would turn on that switch of laughter. And I didn’t ever turn it off. To this day, even though I’m free, I still haven’t turned that sense of humor off. If you could have seen me in those 30 years, you would have said this guy can’t be human. This guy is crazy. This guy laughs and plays like he ain’t on death row. I didn’t accept the death penalty. You can’t make me take the death penalty. You can give it to me, but you can’t make me take it in my heart.
There’s a whole lot more—about the day his mom died, about what it was like to use a fork for the first time in three decades, and the importance of Mark 11:24. Which you don’t have to be in prison to appreciate. It’s there for everybody, and it’s there for you, too.
Wisconglish for “Mass Transit System Career Opportunities – Now Hiring!”
Lucrative Perks…the parking lot in which the vehicle is located belongs to a newly opened microbrewery…Sunshine more than three days a year (even when it’s 40 degrees below zero!)… and, as always, unique camping experiences.