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The Isolation Diary

Hunger Strike in The Hole

March 7, 2024

This is the latest in Spectre’s ongoing series of contributions from incarcerated writers and artists. Thanks as always to Empowerment Avenue for facilitating the exchange.

Day 0

Dear World,

I’m having this dream about swimming in Lake Michigan, paddling toward someone in the lake, and I feel happy as fuck to be able to reach them, but for some reason I stop, bobbing at the horizon. Bam! Bam! The water ripples. Bam! I wake up, stretch my arms up to what’s falling on me. My bunkie like, I told you to stop burning me with them wires man!

In the dark with only our TVs on, I get up n shit and as I’m tryna jump off the top bunk I see the glare in his eyes, a look that is unfamiliar to me. Now, this muthafucka is about 62 years old, gray, thick beard, 5’11”, been in prison for about 34 years—he crazy fo’ sho’. But da nigga be walking so damn smooth during the day you wouldn’t tink he had this kinda malice in ‘em. Fuck it. I gotta get this old man off me. I grab his weapon, the padlock looped on a belt, and I yank that bitch towards me. Hard. This muthafucka must’ve been working out his entire bid cuz he ain’t let go, World, we in here scuffling over this bitch-ass padlock looped on a belt wit’ my weak ass. I do a shoulder nudge, get him to fall over the toilet. He finally goes down. I’m kinda impressed by this old nigga’s strength, and it takes half of me not to beat his ass like one of these young idiots, who come into prison actin’ too tough. But he’s a lifer—an elder—and has been taken off his psych meds and moved into GP (General Population), out of the mental unit. It’s his PTSD; it’s the system we’ve been subjected to; it’s trauma meeting trauma.

I help him up, sit him on his bunk. I rub the back of my head where he had hit me. I can feel the warm blood oozing into my hairwaves. I just start yelling at him, World: What the fuck is your problem, man?! Hitting me in my sleep?

You—you keep burning me, he says.

I’m not fuckin’ burning you. I’m fuckin’ asleep! I’m running cold water over a towel, damping the blood out my head, his weapon in my other hand. I know I’m loud cuz an officer comes to our cell. I gotta figure out what kinda man am I, World. I hide his weapon, hope the flashlight didn’t catch the silver padlock hanging on the belt. The officer tells me to step out n shit, and I’m walking up the hall, muthafuckas peering out their windows, shaking the heads like, Buck done whupped da old nigga.

Other prisoners told me I needed to get out of there too, and I tried multiple times, but officers ignored me. I’m his seventh bunkie, the third to get hit with a lock by him. They—the prison system—have turned our elderly into accessible weapons. I have a massive headache, and the Sergeant is talking real funny, but it’s not headache trauma. Aye, World, when there is a white male talking to you like a fucking two-year-old girl, he’s the type to shake your cell down and wipe his white ass with your toothbrush. After every cell shakedown, I throw away my toothbrush. Don’t even think!

COs cuff me up. Cuff me! I see the old man down the hallway playing victim, and after I done hid this nigga’s weapon. Damn, World, I gotta figure out what kinda man I am. My headache is getting worser—I mean worse. I get to A-unit intake, segregation. If y’all don’t know what segregation is, Google it. We call it the hole. Seg is responsible for 37 percent of mental diagnoses in state and federal prisons. In the movie Training Day, Denzel Washington told a group of brothers living in projects called the Jungles that he’d put cases on all them bitches, have them in the SHU program. The SHU is not a place that makes shoes. It’s isolation. Now, that is solitary confinement at its best. The prison system can break a man without him knowing he broke. And it ain’t no fixing him or bringing him back afterwards.

I’m in the segregation intake part: it’s a small rectangular box with one shower head. I’m locked inside, cuffs still on my wrist. When white men with authority launch in the background, that means they are applying Vaseline on each other dicks. A wise man once told us, World, that if the government is trying to put something up your ass, then move your ass. Don’t sit there and let them do it! Be rebellious! Those who know this quote, please, calm down. You gotta remember, World, America praised so many fucked up people. Columbus is one of them, and for an entire lifetime he had a whole holiday. The man I’m quoting isn’t all bad; he also told you to go to the polls and vote.

The men laughing come from the side, and I see a brother—oh shit, his hand’s greasy too!

He say, we need you to take off your clothing.

The Sergeant that baby talks to me say, just say the old man wanted your goodies—got your goodies and you’ll be out of here. Did he? Come on, take your clothes off. The other five officers nod to the Sergeant’s request. I feel trapped.

The only thing I can think of, World, is to move my black ass. I refuse. I refuse because of how hungry and thirsty they look. I refuse because I’m tryna figure out what kinda man am I. I refuse because the Sergeant is baby talking to me. I refuse because I’m so so so tired of taking my clothes off over and over again. I didn’t come to prison to become a male stripper for men with authority issues. I keep refusing; their hands get greasier and greasier, and they are fubbing and caressing, and I’m moving my black ass. I REFUSE! But I also have cuffs on so I’m thinking they on fuck shit.

World, shit got real for me in this little rectangular spot. These muthafuckas come back suited and booted in bomb outfits, six of them. Y’all know that voice Kevin Hart does in his stand up—if you don’t, Google it—I’m like Oh my God Oh my God no no no no no. I don’t wanna play no more. Stop.

Bane says, Remove your clothing now or I will administer a chemical agent onto your person, Batman. (He didn’t say “Batman,” but that shit would’ve been cool if he did.) They spray me several times (who sits down and comes up with this kinda shit to hurt humans?) And the spray is really not a spray but a straight-up shower. Needles start to poke at me, hot needles all over my body. I fall, World, straight to my knees, kick off one shoe, then the other. I’m still being sprayed. I’m literally on fire at this point. I can’t see. I’m coughing and vomiting through my nose and mouth. I snake out my joggies and draws, use my own vomit as momentum, base ass for them, the government. I’m stuck. I can’t take my clothes off cuz I’m cuffed. Bane tells me to stick my arm through the open gate so he can cut my shirt off. I do it, World, but I move so slowly someone reaches in and cuts it for me. I would’ve complied if they had removed my handcuffs first.

Listen, World, my environment, my hood, my block was made to populate the prison industry.

They tell ‘em to stand up—or that fuckin’ Bane dude says it, I think three times. I can hear the gate open, the heavy clump of moon boots. They press a clear shield I know they use for situations like this against my body, the black body that’s on fire. I think about how many asses been on this shield, and how mines look to Bane and his minions and why does things like this happen to people who looks like me, or close to me.

As I back up, following Bane’s voice, I recite, loudly, Chairman Fred Hampton’s lines: There’s nothing wrong with dead, cuz if I can’t find anything worth dying for then I’m not fit living. I’m dead anyway. I’m dead anyway. I’m dead anyway. I’m dead. Listen, World, that cell door behind me closes, and I search the room blindly for some covering. I can’t open my eyes. My hands scurry over sink, wall, metal, on the table I feel a turtle suit, a small square blanket that I’d have to ball into for comfort. I try to cover up away from the burning all over my body, but it only makes it worse.

It’s something about God that makes you wanna go to him even if you don’t believe in him. We at odds like a muthafucka. He taking people I don’t want him to take, people I needed to finish loving. Why would God allow a man-made system to separate family from family, give one group of people suppressive control over a mass incarcerated populous. If God is real, then why do babies die n shit?

We, World, black and brown, die in prisons, get mistreated inhumanely while these politicians and private company owners get rich off our skin. Prison was constructed from the slave era and redlining became a boiling pot to pick out its supply. We are in such demand that the supply is being snatched from urban mothers’ wombs—or murdered in them.

Listen, World, my environment, my hood, my block was made to populate the prison industry. Over the last 50 years, the state and federal prison population has grown by about 700 percent. Damn, a harsh reality after I’ve been wronging my own community for so long. For this, and to try to change something, I, World, am going to stop eating for as long as I can, even if it kills me.


Day 1 

Dear World,

I’m hot all over. It burns, this chemical agent. It’s eating up my black skin, killing me from the inside. I haven’t moved since last night’s reckoning. The prison staff helps with my hunger strike; they don’t bother to feed me, check on me, or see if I’m alive. Soon, I’ll be dead anyway. This shit hurt, World, this really fuckin’ hurts.


Day 2

It’s colder than a muthafucka. When in Bam Bam, the windows never close and the lights never shut off. They beam down on me so hard that I stay inside the turtle shell suit. This facility gives inmates jobs to watch the guys in the turtle suits too. This guy I know is watching over my cell in a highchair. He just gave a lot of time back in court by telling on five other men. He watches me in my sleep as if will be something to tell officials by sunbreak. It’s gotta be about 4 in the morning. Fuck, I’m burning up.

I doze back into a dream. There are all sorts of people around me, but I can’t remember their faces, and I think the dream is about me wanting to remember them, but I can’t. There is a knock on the cell door.

You’re moving.

I yell back from under my shell; I ain’t going nowhere. Bring da gas. But I don’t mean it. Dat shit sounded good though. Hours later I get another knock on the door. A group of healthcare women. They’re like a clique the way they burst through the unit huddled together.

Mr. Buckley Mr. Buckley Mr. Buckley. I think it’s about four of them. One pops her head from the left, then another on the right bombarding me with the same question: Do you wanna kill yourself? Do you, do you, do you? When was the last time you thought of killing yourself? Are you thinking about it now? How about now? What about later? Ok, have a good last day! They take off like a dust ball blown out a dustpan.

An hour later the cell slot plops open, and my clothes and sheets fall onto the floor—this means I’m off Bam Bam status. I put on some clothes, musty as shit. I smell like a loud pack, but clothes make you feel powerful for some reason. Lying in that suit is humiliating. I wonder if the staff puts us in that shit just to degrade us, especially if there isn’t mental illness in our file? I’m proud for not eating, World. Strength. Hungry as hell though. I feel holy. I wrap my head with my thermal top, turban style, and gracefully bow.

Listen, World, in order to go on any spiritual journey, you must wrap your head, stop eating, and speak slowly or only when spoken to. Whatever rules you make up on your own, just stick to it. For those who are just meeting me here I am also a poet, a pretty okay one. Google me. Sometimes I don’t like what I write, but I do it anyway, for truth.


Prison has robbed me

of my memories.

I can’t remember

anyone before this

or anyone



I think it’s that dream I had, World, about the missing faces I couldn’t remember.

Having prisons as a staple center for America’s punishment is wrong for many reasons. One reason is others who don’t look like you begin to wrong you because you did something wrong ten or fifteen years ago. And though you’ve changed in behavior and action, you’re still wrong. This creates the “throw that shit out the window” effect. Now I have to protect myself from being wronged and all that being docile to people that has nothing to do with giving back to the rightful community—you can throw that shit out the window.

As for me, I’ve been trying to understand the nature of men who deem those murderers heroes. Most American heroes are murderers who never saw the inside of a cell. My remorse for my act is solely personal, and I’ve been taking full responsibility for that action and not by sitting in a funky ass cell, pulling on myself, but actively restoring something I know I can never restore, so it’s my job until death. Here goes another stanza:


I am afraid of my flesh

for I know not what it wants

Bury me in cell 30


no one can head

my hunger


Have y’all ever thought about the people who died for other oppressed people knowing the outcome and not for a government’s gain? Jesus is always the first for me, Hannibal, Joan of Arc—she badass—Fred Hampton, MLK Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Bobbie Hutton, Rap Brown, Nat Turner, Vessey…shit y’all, I know I know far more names than that. If you want to help send me names and a brief history to

I was finally getting scared, World, cuz once I start something I have a hard time stopping. Let’s pray I stop.

There’s power in selflessness. Let me tell you, World, what the hell is happening here. Officers are talking to me with dignity—some of them. The fear that I will say one of them put me up to not eating, that they wanted me to die in their honor, is terrifying for them, but I am not that kind of man. Here’s another stanza:

CO comes to my cell and say:

NO one cares if you live or die

and all I can think about

is offering them a piece

of my body, a drink, of my blood.

Before turning the other cheek.


Day 3 

Hunger pains are the least of my worries. The inmates working segregation are laughing with the officers about me not eating. Ol’ house-ass niggas, man. They have no rebellious bones in they bodies, no eye for self-dignity. Michigan breed these kinda souls—food prices went up eight times in two years; prison pay is eighteen cents a day, at most 81 cents, and these fools working, smiling, happy to be laughing with the extension of massa. We are slaves if none of these fools recognize. I believe it’s the 13th Amendment. I fill an urge to flip every bench that ain’t soldered to the ground, but they, the working inmates, would probably solder it back, clean up and get unruly more than their boss—see cuz I ain’t nice like boss. I’ll shoot yo’ black ass. Ol’ Hoppin’ Bob the movie, Life. Cali and New York prisons have programs on top of programs, Good Time, conjugal visits, but at a price. And before that price so many prisoners died for the injustice that went on. Their solidarity game is airtight while Michigan prisoners attack blacks, whites, Latinos—y’all remember what Loco said to OG Bobby Johnson in the movie South Central: can’t be in here alone, Bobby.

Healthcare wanna take my vitals. Inmate number 1 didn’t want to take my laundry, the biggest house nigga and though he’s white the term is still official. The word Niggah (but with an ER on the end) was said over 362 times in the movie Django, not including retakes and such. But it’s okay if it’s for artistic reasons, whoever came up with that. Bullshit, so, World, I hope this will be artistic enough cuz I’m finna say niggah a lot. What do you mean, Big Daddy?

See, World, the “niggah” word don’t hold no more weight as certain people would want it to, cuz you have white people—poor whites—growing up in the same struggle, side by side, using that word more than his darker buddies. Can you fault him? I’ve been down this road and bruised my knuckles for a white guy using the niggah word fluently. Y’all wanna know what that fool said? Damn, big bro, I thought we was niggas. Trump be acting like a niggah too, I’m just saying. The N-word is just forced ignorance either by others or ourselves. And sometimes ignorance is bliss.

It’s a CO here I had mad respect for cuz without knowing shit he knew everything that went on in the unit. We call him Griff, ol’ Italian muthafucka. He look like Sal who owned Sal’s Pizzeria in the movie Do The Right Thing. Remember that movie? Shit, Lisa Perez, that was my first and best-looking nipple. And when CO Griff yelled at the top of his lungs through the entire unit: I sharpen my teeth with niggahs like y’all—dem brothers was ready to do more than throw a bitch-ass trash can and burn shit. Ironic, cuz CO Griff was mad that two niggas jumped one rat niggah. I’m behind the scenes on everything. I knew violence would only get forty brothers murdered, and the system painting the killers as heroes. Know what I told them brothers? You ain’t no good dead or in here with a bunch of niggahs.

The cuffs are on, and I’m out the cell, Bitch-ass niccahs y’all some fuckin’ cowards, I say, all y’all gotta do is stop working for the system and we can have whatever we want: Good Time, a cap on natural life, programs, shit, even conjugal visits.

I do understand the need to work, but as of right now prison employees are being fucked over. Why don’t these niccahs wanna fight for something?

By this time I’ve past them up, still heated. Damn, that took a lot of my energy. I’m panting n shit like I did laps on big yard. I keep a healthy gait to not show the officers my body is beginning to fail me. This body.


This body is just

a vessel I must carry

throughout my life.

But this is my body

I must carry.


The nurse says after checkin my heartbeat, ok, Buckley I have to tell you the consequences of a hunger strike. Your body will begin to eat its own tissue, muscles, and fat. You’ll lost electrolytes and your hair will start to thin. You’ll start having diarrhea, and long-term erectile dysfunction. You’ll have heart and kidney failure. Soon, you won’t be able to stand and when you can’t take care of yourself any longer, we will intervene and try our best to save your life and it we can we hope that your body won’t be too damaged.

Listen, World, when the nurse said erectile dysfunction I damn near threw in the white towel. Shit, why she had to go for the dick! Fuck it if my heart failed! Okay, okay, just a joke, but I was finally getting scared, World, cuz once I start something I have a hard time stopping. Let’s pray I stop.

Dear World, I’m killing myself slowly for the entire prison population, including the handful of house niggahs outside my cell, but that’s my choice. I can see the dislike on staff’s faces when they check on me. They hate that by policy they gotta make sure I’m ok: Sir (I’m Sir now) are you going to eat today? Hey, you gotta eat man. Even the house niggah, mmm mmm mmm, this cookie good, brotha, you should try it.

I’ll most likely punch him when I get out the hole. I think the nigga did a dance too—oh, World, I’m trying to slow down on my cursing.

Somebody knocks on the cell door. He wears on his neck collar a long silver bar, a Lieutenant. World, this niggah here looks like the devil himself. He black like me but just that color, black. His name P––. I’m tryna pinpoint this multi-niggah’s origin and how did he make it so far up in America. How is this possible?

I’m a history junkie so when Europeans kidnapped the Africans on ships by force, some tricked into helping by force, I remember them dropping Africans off on coastal continents, islands, and whatnot before coming over to America. On the TCM channel I watched this old ass movie about some black Brazilian dude in love with two gorgeous, out of this world, black women. It was a musical Greek folklore of love and death. When the black man sung, either the sun came up or it went down, or was it when he danced? Either way one of the girls died and he went to the underworld to get her back and his only thing was not to look back—cool movie, but this ain’t that. He could be a descendant from there.

See, World, with the system you can’t go for the head cuz there are too many necks, too many mouths being fed. Cut the leg first, the corrupted and unruly officials, and then have at it a prison at a time.

Why you not eating man?

Many reasons, that’s what I say, trying to sound philosophical and stuff. I come to the door and cock my head down by the slot, why do you care?

 I don’t care if you eat or not: it’s your choice.

I control this, I press my hands gently on my chest, World, look him in the eyes where his dark circles pool.

Why you doing this shit, man, for real?

I’m not harming myself I say. I’m on a spiritual journey. 

You’re harming yourself.

 I let him have his theory, I mean, I am killing myself if I go too far with this hunger strike. But I know my limits. Crazy, World, I feel more alive than ever and on point right now.

Gandhi did it, I say.

Yeah, niggah, but you ain’t righteous. 

I laugh. That word coming from him, Lt. P––, tickled me, but burned also. He came to my level.

He squints his eyes, gives a playful grin and says, Oh I’ma starve myself like a lil’ bitch.

I laugh harder and he laughs too but not willingly. I’ve learned to disarm a man in prison by listening candidly as if I’m their apprentice and they will let you in on their own thinking, unknowingly.

For real, why? For what, man?

I want to abolish prison—I want to make it better for those around me for if and when they decide to do better.

Who the fuck are you?! You ain’t nobody, he chuckles. Listen, this here, he points inside my cell, then around him, this is a well-oiled machine. You can’t stop this muthafucka. I’m gonna keep getting paychecks after you’re dead. This thing that’s been created is embedded in white America’s fabric. This ain’t no stain; it’s the lining in the stars.

I can’t stop it with my writing—I’m a prison journalist. World, this multi-niggah looked at me like I was the stupidest muthafucka on planet earth, and I felt that way, alone in solitary.

The only way you could hurt the system is if you were famous before you got locked up and you started to push that agenda from the inside. But other than that, you wasting your time. So eat. He slides a tray halfway on the slot.  

I shake my head, a little sadder than before, like a baby rejecting a spoon full of applesauce.

You ever wrote about a hunger-strike?

Nah, I say.

See, maybe that would help. But this not eating shit…another dumb, dead niggah.

I ponder on that shit for awhile, but I push the tray back out. I tell him tomorrow, World, that I’ma eat. There’s this syndrome, World, but I can’t think of it—Stockholm Syndrome, where you come to care about those who watch over you in bondage. Some rich white woman Patty Hearst had that shit and she was going out with her captives, robbing banks in her own name. I don’t know if I truly believe that stuff. Your enemy is your enemy. It was something in Hearst that wanted to be free as a poor person could be with a loaded gun. She didn’t even get in trouble for it. But if she was…I’m just saying.

Dear World,

My stomach and chest are teaming up and pulling my guts out, closer to my throat. It feels like Fat Albert is standing on my shit and he saying, Hey Hey Hey! and not listening to me when I say let up. Muthafucka. Damn, World, how’d I get here? Prison journalism is one of the hardest jobs to do. So I commend our inside writers for the will. Retaliation comes hand to hand and some—I said, some, places we write for don’t understand the magnitude of this shit! I know, World, then why do it for them? But see, that’s not it. We aren’t writing for them; we are writing for the protection of us, the incarcerated soul. So when released back into society we can help others accomplish their journeys. I had one senior editor ask me, if she was a white man, would I have voiced my opinions about her aggression? I mean, I understand bad days cuz I have ‘em, but I also understand a kind gesture, and I treat everybody the same. I guess I’m a radical journalist because I’ll die for this shit.


Day 4

I know a good thing

when I see it

unless I see

the good is gone.


Dear World,

I just got my vitals checked, and I’m not 10 pounds lesser in a deep cell. The group of girls are asking me again if I’m going to kill myself. Are you, Mr.? Are you? You have a nice last day, Sir. I begin to think about the psychological effects of being asked that question on every top of the hour. Do I want to kill myself and haven’t noticed it?

Lt. P–– is coming back today, and I told this niggah to Google me if he think I don’t got the strength to tackle this monolith called the prison system. See, World, with the system you can’t go for the head cuz there are too many necks, too many mouths being fed. Cut the leg first, the corrupted and unruly officials, and then have at it a prison at a time.

I get a knock at the door from one of those white men with authority. He wants me to eat lunch, but I quickly give off a don’t-fuck-wit-me energy. He fucks with someone else. From my cell I can hear him abusing his power on another prisoner: Go fuckin’ lock down, you piece of shit—do it now. I’m giving you a direct order.

Above me I hear heavy feet land, one after another. Noise like that give me bubble guts. Y’all ever hear something that made you anxious and wanna run to it? It’s almost like a car crash: you hear it and run to it to see how much damage has been done. I’m at my cell window on my reporter shit, live; listen to this brother go:

Lock down fo’ what? I didn’t do nothing. He gets cuffed. He’s thrown in seg shower across from me. Officials strip the prisoner naked. This is the important part, World, the shit you don’t get to see on TV prison/jail shows. The LT tries to place him in Bam Bam. The LT gives him a turtle suit, but the prisoner refuses, knowing his rights.

I know what you trying to do—not gonna work. I ain’t suicidal and I ain’t trying to harm myself. I am not refusing you the handcuffs or to be moved. I am not refusing you the handcuffs! And I never told you I wanted to harm myself.

The LT snaps, I don’t give a shit, you’re going to Bam Bam, you fucking nigger!

Listen, World, I can feel the heat rising off the LT and his mistaken slip-up. The LT knows his temper has been compromised, and he gets cherry red, asshole red. He went back. This LT looks like a Billy—

Billy, excuse me, Billy how much it’s gonna cost to turn these whites-only pies into nigga pies?

LT Billy has a shotgun pointed at his black face. Da homie don’t see it. Da homie naked. The LT Billy is clothed. LT Billy notices his upset and leaves, but leaves da homie naked in the shower, and the inmates working and staff just pass by with an occasional look at his naked person. Da homie give two fucks about his piece being out and he scratches his nuts, butt ass. One of the working inmates, Horse boy, say something to him and da homie goes off.

I shake my head, not today homie, with a big ass smile on my face. Fuck he thought, World. We had an agreement as peers, and he didn’t honor it.

Don’t talk to me. I’m so sick and tired of you inmates, super dicksuckers. You should be ashamed, sitting at the desk and talking about other prisoners to COs. Upstate them boys would’ve cut yo’ head off. Go ahead eat out they ass but stay the fuck out my way. I know what they want to do. You can’t get me, he shouts, I’m not refusing to be removed.

I ain’t gonna lie, I’m excited about his display of strength. I feel less alone that somebody want to fight for something right. Horse boy mops the floor after having a hard laugh with the CO. I won’t disclose their discussion or put any more energy in to it.

I’m hungry, World, and I’m thinking about mom’s mac and cheese and at the same time trying not to think about my moms. It’s this scene in the movie The Color Purple I think about when I’m extremely stressed: Shug Avery is singing in the juke joint in the backwoods, and she can hear her father’s church in session. If y’all read the book, it’s actually her daughter singing at the church. Shug’s father, the pastor at the church, had stopped talking to Shug Avery because of her sinful nature. So Shug fine ass stop, that instant, singing that boogie woogie and start singing a gospel song her daughter is singing a quarter mile ahead: God is trying to tell you something. Shug, literally, by foot, takes the whole club to church.

I know, Ma, sinners have souls too.

I knew LT P–– was gonna be on bullshit, World, but I see him. P–– making rounds. I don’t know why I’m so happy to see this niggah. I can’t wait to tell him I ain’t eating another day cuz staff still on fuck shit. It’s nothing hard to understand. You can lock up a freedom fighter but you can’t lock up a freedom fight. Yeah. World, I’m loaded with quotes, surgical with this bitch, Jay!

Whaddup, OG P––!

He still signing my sheet, writing down log time and date. He beeps the wall where there is a steel plate that assure control-center rounds have been made. His body shifts as it he’s about to walk off, a rock, but he stops.

You gonna eat tonight.

You Google me? I ask.

He smiles, drops his head, walks off. What kinda muthafucka don’t answer a straight question? World, I promise I’m doing everything in my power to humanize the person I am today, and showing what I use to be is no longer. Maybe the problem is I have to accept me for me first.

OG P–– slides back through segregation. This smooth walking niggah—he up to something. He pops the slot, World, places the tray halfway through the door.

You gonna eat. 

I shake my head, not today homie, with a big ass smile on my face. Fuck he thought, World. We had an agreement as peers, and he didn’t honor it. He pulls the tray back and this woman’s face presses against the glass.

Do you know who I am, she asks?

I do. It’s Warden Melinda. Fuck. Let me tell you, World, about this woman. She’s scary—not ugly and hideous but scary. I understand her without her knowing I do. Melinda is in a world of men, powerful men who may had objectified Melinda her entire life. Women, period, had it hard as hell in history, always under something or someone. They couldn’t vote; they couldn’t speak out; they were, women, slaves before slaves in their own homes. Most women were always under some fuck boy’s rule. Fuck boys back then were pharaohs, kings, shoguns, tribesmen, princes: you name it. See, World, women are unique and divine and are somehow one with nature, or are the true descendants from its essence. Warden Melinda is a part of this strength. She don’t take no shit I can tell, but she also don’t give a shit. See, that comes from her pushing her way in them business meetings, those rooms full of white men with authority and they got their suits on, laughing hard, should blades sharp as fuck that it chops up the air in the room when they laugh Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha choppin’ it up. The air gets thick in the room to where the men with authority have to keep windows open, and this is how climate change started—believe it or not.

They chopping and chomping and somewhere hurricanes begin, tornados and shit, then oil spills, prisons and prisons and people of color and LGBTQIA+ murdered, backs against walls and the control of women’s body then Putin gets restless in the middle of war cuz Kim catching trains to—Fuck. Where was I at. Oh, Warden Melinda walks into those rooms of men, white men of authority. And they’re zipping their pants down, pulling out their dicks, hands greasy. What they don’t know is she’s got the biggest dick of them all, and a group of men to grease it while she talks.

Hey! She shouts after knocking on the glass, Why are you doing this?

I look at P––.

She talkin’ to you. Tell her.

I’m not about to tell this woman I want to fuck her money up. That’s crazy, World!

She nods at my silence and I turn to the small table behind me, grab the sheet of paper I got late in the mail. I made a list:

  1. First, this is a spiritual journey I must undertake.
  2. Your staff, at least a handful, are very unruly and unprofessional.
  3. B-Unit is an island. There are no programs in that unit.
  4. Store prices went up 8 times in 2 years, but the prisoners’ pay been the same since the late 90s.
  5. And your staff find ways to abuse their authority when the incarcerated want better out of life.



I want you to understand

What you do for the people. You

force wardens

to trek down

their own troubled valleys.



Melinda grabs the paper, P–– leading in steps, and they leave. See, World, what I’ve learned in life is that people whoever they are, don’t want to be told what to do. Even if it’s in good nature. Countries set in place a system so they’re not being told what to do, but common folk have to follow the written rule: laws and policies. This, Dear World, is how racism was embedded. We, the people, unknowingly vote for this kind of democracy. So tell me, when did all this shit start, and who set the laws to begin with? My new textbook, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, tells it all. Google it!

At night, around sometime between gloom and suffer, a hard gust of wind sweeps into my room—I wake up to this shit, World. My cell is pitch black and not even the lights in the halls are on. Power outages happen often, but why aren’t they using the backup generator? This means the cameras are down too. I smell the rancid stench of bodies and the cum that shoots from them. My cell door jumps open and it’s LT Lien & LT Dobias standing there and before I could move a loud thunder encompasses the room again and again and again.

Dear World,

I wake up soaked in sweat, my sheet, my pillow, doused in what I thought was my own blood. My legs numb as fuck. I start punching the, start—in thought—running down the nightmare I just had. Those faces. I grabbed both tickets and went through them and I discovered foul play. It just came to me and it kept revealing mistake after mistake in the tickets—it meaning my state of mind.


Day 5

Sir, excuse me, a female psych knocks on the window. I rustle, eyes under the orange cap to see what she wants.

Sir, I just wanna really know how are you going to kill yourself today? Sir I have to ask. Listen, World, the crazy thing about my life is I have to experience things in order to understand a thing. And how much I know that growing up in a setup would only sabotage me in the future. I am still thankful for life and talent. I bet my friend I grew up with like, why he ain’t calling? And to that I’ma say, See, young sister, I’m in here fighting the white man. Red pill blue pill knick knack paddy whack give a dog a bone—the Wayans keep family strong. Strength.

I found what I was looking for in my spiritual journey. Ya boy gotta eat. I hope, World, y’all see the real in what I’ve said and what I’ve done. Granted, World, I am incarcerated for murder. But I’ll just be that if I sit in a cell and do nothing. You can’t hustle redemption or hustle others’ misery. Once upon a time I was your entertainment, World. You guys saw me in your living rooms, probably rooting ignorantly for me not to confess a murder. But what y’all failed to understand is that wasn’t da game, but a slave mentality to annihilate my own kind, and World, I fell for it.

Truly yours,


P.S. Gil Scott-Heron/The Prisoner



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