I was rummaging through a folder of old writings and found two pieces I wrote during a time I was feeling particularly distraught. On one, the upper right-hand corner was dated August 8, 2004, exactly 2 years, 2 months and 1 week from the day I was released from prison (June 1, 2002). The second piece was dated August 11, 2004.

I know why I wrote the first piece: I had anger issues. I was no longer incarcerated, but I carried that prison around with me everywhere. The memories were still fresh. I was trying to make sense of the world but couldn’t. At times it was impossible to focus; The anger and depression were shamefully debilitating. I knew it and felt it. I resolved to record my feelings. When in prison, writing was therapy, so I revisited my old love.

I know why I wrote the second piece too: I was raised in a Christian family. I must have had a talk with God.

NOTE: The “blows” and “punch” mentioned at the end of the first paragraph (of the August 8th piece) were not literal. I was an ex-con struggling to express my feelings. At the time, I thought those words gave the writing a violent tone, which was exactly how I felt. For the sake of authenticity I restrained myself from making any changes to what I originally wrote.

August 8, 2004

I can deal with the times of inspiration, when I rest my eyes upon the world and see it as mine, or when I stretch my hand forward and feel the earth firmly in my grasp. But when my eyes fall on desolate, infertile land, or when the earth crumbles and, like sand, slips between the fingers of my clenched fist, I become discouraged. I can’t think clearly at these times, and I lash out. I can transform a verbal disagreement into a physical confrontation, like turning water into wine. Like a well-trained boxer, I land my blows with accuracy, a well-placed punch to stun the opposition. It’s an attempt at keeping my most formidable enemy at bay-myself. I despise myself and love what I don’t have.

If only I had something to point to and call a life, I could rest more easily, but a “life” is far off in the distance. “It’s just beyond those hills,” they say. Such statements can trigger a negative reaction in my brain, and this is the genesis of a violent physical result weeks later. I hide and hurt in silence. I hate in the solitary confinement of my bedroom, a room where I watch in horror as my tranquility dissipates, a room where steel birds crash into my wooden fortitude until it is no more than sawdust, slowly disappearing with each gentle breeze. It’s magical how a mere breeze, something so comfortable and good, can sever my greatest gifts, separating them from the whole, quelling all thoughts of synergy.

August 11, 2004

A few days have elapsed since a pulverized world eluded my grip, only to reform itself into a more precious land. And the seediest places are shedding an old skin; It’s the gentrification of my soul. Desire, faith and auto-suggestion are the promise of the day, but the tangible rewards are tomorrow. “Patience.”

I expel a breath of relief, close my eyes, and pray for perseverance. I must dispense with the idea that a shady, tainted past is the master of my current reality. Mind control reaches across the whole of one’s vision, and that’s what the system endeavors to do, control minds by molding minds. It’s not justice, it’s just us in a revolving door, but I escaped.

February 20, 2017

I found the two pieces above and knew I had to share. I saw them and remembered writing them. Some of the language is a bit hazy and undefined, I know, and if I had written those pieces today, they would flow so differently, but I think the words captured something of the moments in which they were written.

At the end of the first paragraph, of the August 8th post, I wrote, “I despise myself and love what I don’t have.” In retrospect, I believe what I most “despised” was not my self but my inability to shake the prisoners mind and all the habits of a prisoner that I’d become one with. And the “love what I don’t have” portion, I believe, was a reference to my inability to find true freedom.

 

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