Artwork and Writings from Contributors
This one was rough. George was my brother and he took his life a year before a law was changed that would allow guy's given Life Without Parole sentences as juveniles, a chance to get out. For years I tried to be a tough guy and not show emotion when dealing with death but seeing him like that was too much. As is often the case, growth is usually difficult.
This was another gentleman I did time with in Texas. He was severely disturbed and all he did was pace back and forth in the dayroom cause people would get his meds from him for coffee. I would watch him from a distance and it broke my heart to see the affect on him when someone slammed a domino. I drew him the way I wish he could have been and how I hope he is now, at peace.
Blackhawk Bubble Machine
This was a very difficult moment in my life. I got out after 24 years and was doing great till I met the mother of my daughter. To make a long story short, the final act of the Torturing Of Mark was to fake suicide when I was off in another town trying to recover from the last catastrophy I inherited. Almost hoping to get caught, I damn sure did when I jumped into a truck at a gas station. After the adrenaline wore off, the gravity of my situation set in and it was not a good feeling. As I got settled in to my news digs, I spilled my shampoo and rather than throw it away, I shoved it into the vent in the ceiling, then went to the door and looked down at the dayroom. Then I sensed movement behind me, which was very unsettling. But I turned around and there were bubbles everywhere, like the Lawrence Welk Show. The Blackhawk Bubbles Polka. Sure, why not?
This little guy was a barn swallow I befriended while locked away at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage Wisconsin. He only ate bugs so he wasn't there for anything but some friendship. The crows, on the other hand, were there for the food and Boudreaux hated them. I always wondered what he would say if he knew I was feeding his enemy.
I can literally say Stephen Hawking saved my life. In Wisconsin, they tortured me by locking me in a room the size of a closet for five and a half years. I get to say that cause the Supreme Court said so. But as you can image, under those circumstances, there came a point where I had to ask myself if it was worth it to keep going. I gave myself 24 hours to make a decision and in that 24 hours I ended up thinking about Stephen Hawking cause I had just read a book about him. When I realized he and I shared similar circumstances, only his were much worse, I felt like an idiot. Facing death, that little frail person said, "Screw it, I'm going to make the most out of every day, no matter what". I had to respect that and from that day forward I've tried to always remember the lesson he taught me.
In May or June of 2001, I was extracted from the hole I had been buried in for several years and thrown into a rolling torture apparatus called Transcor. Ran by the US Marshals, they drag you across the country in miserable conditions for weeks to take you somewhere that may normally only take a few hours to get to. So after leaving Cook County jail, we were flying through traffaic when I witnessed this beautiful site created just for me. I felt human that day.
This is actually the very first piece I did. I was very happy that it looks exactly like the rubber room they put me in in Walworth County Wisconsin. The walls and floor were actually rubber, it was the first time I ever saw that. It was the first time they ever made me use a hole in the floor for the restroom, too. In that quietness of being absolutely alone, I learned my grandmother had lost her battle with cancer. I wasn't there and that day I found out what it feels like to be truly empty inside.
Booney Van Tyes
This is my little buddy from Booneville Mississippi, ironically named Booney Van Tyes. He was actually a victim of the Mississippi KKK back in 1995. I'll save you the details so you can read the story when my book comes out. Trust me, you are going to find this story informative on many levels.
Spike was a squirrel I did time with in Booneville Missouri and yes I did also do time in Booneville Mississippi. But Spike brought a lot of joy into a place where joy was scarce. On the day we served pork in the kitchen, we had a cup of peanut butter for people who don't eat it and it was hilarious to give a cup to Spike and watch him try to drag it up a tree. There's a big twist to this story, if you can believe it. Spike had a secret, or we were just poor observers.
This depicts the day I saw on the news a detail about how the school district of Anamosa would not be granted a million dollars to fix their dilapidated school. After seeing this, I walked out of my cellhouse to go eat and towering there over this little town was a giant crane, lowering millions of dollars of new kitchen equipment into the prison. The prison got ten million for a chow hall and museum but the school couldn't even get a tenth of that. That crane was like a giant middle finger, "F-You and your kids Anamosa". More like, "America".
. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.
Hidden, yet not hidden. See yet not seen. Cracked and fractured, deprived of tender affections-the faces of "Tactility" sulk, their lips pout in felt silence. They communicate without words; they make contact without eyes. Their mood is tangible, felt through their expressions.
Each face emotes a color complementary to the other, a reflection their respective position on opposite sides of the mood wheel. The brown one, warmed with indignation, expresses a muted resentment at its surroundings, which confines and restricts it. The blue one, cooling with apathy, shows a tacit indifference, a find of abandonment to its subjugation. A constant distress hums from the surroundings, cracking the faces, creating a kind of background mood, breaking the silence.
"Tactility" is an impression of mood. It conveys how the environment the way it's designed-contributes to and affects mood. Confined to a solitary existence, an environment that closes in on its inhabitants, I experience the felt qualities of my incarceration in my being. Without some kind of buffer of tender affections, or the afterglow of social proximity, my mood is susceptible to the rigors of my surroundings. "Tactility" embodies that.
Terre Haute, Indiana
There is a man because of a soul that gives life. He’s made of wood, wood because of its hard exterior. Durable enough to withstand the pressures of life. Strong enough to help support those in need. And rough on the edge, producing in him a humble nature. A man by birth. Raised from the dirt like a tree in the forest, created to be great amongst many. However, having the unique traits that were individually awarded to him, often times is a curse. His hard exterior, though durable, prevented anyone from getting inside, his depths were hidden. His strength was in helping those in need, but he became weak not realizing his own need for support. And however humbling, his rough edges often times produced splinters for those around him. Causing them pain when his only desire is to comfort. Misunderstood and mistreated, the wooden man felt alone in a world full of opportunity. He was incomplete, in need of fulfillment.
She was beautiful. She was sharp. She was forged in the fires of life. She was strong. She was a nail. She was sharp, able to penetrate the hard exterior of the wooden man, exposing his depths. She understood him, her metallic skin bypasses the man’s splinters with ease. Forged in the fire she became strong, stronger than he. She supports him, fixing him to a foundation making it possible for him to serve his purpose. A chance to be his best. She gave him life; she was his soul.
"Fighting for Freedom in Ohio"
Artwork by Karimi Tybud Sutton
The artist who created this work is brilliant! He has been incarcerated for over 28 years now in a California Correctional Facility for a crime he did not commit. You may contact him or follow him via Instagram at Free_Karimi_Sutton_sr. If you would like to e-mail him, you may do so here:
Karimi (Tybud) Sutton J71244
P.O. Box 8800
Corcoran, CA 93212-8309
All Prayers Welcome
This started out as my memory of praying for my mom. I would get an apple on my tray some times and I would think about her as I carved the word, "Mom" into the apple before eating it. But it became what it is on its own, pretty much. While drawing the tree, I didn't even notice the hand in the trunk until I was done. The Alpha Omega is a reminder that if God is in all things, God is in other religions as well, so we must love everyone as we would love ourselves. But they are also symbolic of two land masses, the Eastern and Western. This is a confluence where the two meet and a small piece of Edan is being weathered away by so many tears of broken people. This last refuge holds a rabbit that's symbolic of my daughter who I love so very much and the squirrel is Spike. This little island is protected by Grandfather rocks used to heat sweat lodges and the rock in the middle is a rock my grandfather found when I was a boy, that I still have. This represents Pagan religions and all Religions are present in various hybrid forms. But this is where all prayers go and All Prayers are Welcome.
Poetry and Articles
Poetry by Sammie Werkheiser
New York Exoneree
Attention women: we have an important announcement.
We regret to inform you that we can no longer provide housing, effective immediately.
This correctional facility closes at noon tomorrow.
We have provided you and your fellow inmates
monetary stipends for your cost-of-living expenses.
We trust that as former property of state, you will be law abiding citizens of your own accord.
It is so ordered that you must plant one tree before your death.
You must feed a homeless person. You will hold babies and drink in their life force.
You must squish your feet into grass and sand, it is a yearly requirement.
Celebrations of loved ones must be attended frequently.
A comfortable mattress is of utmost importance.
Blue jeans and little black dresses
are mandatory wardrobe requirements. You must make fantastic love to your beloved.
The air will be cleaner and fresher and the gates will be torn down tomorrow morning,
so, it is hereby recommended that you cherish
every moment because time is yours,
Suffering is over.
Hand your greens in at your leisure.
Freedom, it is yours.
“One Last Word”
Look into my eyes as I take my last breath, may your hand on mine
provide warmth as I leave this world.
As my body struggles to live, may my soul find solace.
While some will celebrate my death, those who love me will mourn.
For they realize that I am not what I have done and there
is light in my darkness.
Through the glass I have one final glimpse of my loved ones and
utter my last words. I resign myself to my fate.
Never again will I feel their gentle touches or hear their words of encouragement.
Nor will they ever hear my voice again and I leave them in pain. They too, suffer for my choices.
May those who were not guilty of crimes they were killed for find
comfort as their souls take flight.
May those in high positions begin to see that many of us have outgrown our crimes and many have been rehabilitated. Please see us as individuals,
and that we are, indeed, worthy of life
Sandy C. Freese
23 hours…23 hours every day they sit. The many American citizens who are in solitary confinement within our country’s prisons.
While they sit, we sit. Either in our home offices or our living rooms awaiting reprieve from this pandemic.
Windows of restaurants and other social outlets remain dark; parking lots remain empty. We pity ourselves.
For them, the lights never shut off, the noise never stops, and the roaches continue to breed.
As I sit in my office writing, I find solace in the silence and find hope for the future.
They sit with no pen and paper for months, even years, in their bare cells with no human contact or mental stimuli.
We look forward to the magic of the holidays, the twinkling of lights, cheerful music, the smell of fresh bread wafting through our homes.
Many of them prepare to have one final meal of their choosing before losing their lives to our government through execution.
They, discarded as if they were a pebble under man’s feet. Have we no warmth to share? No desire to help? No belief in reform?
This time of isolation has rewarded me with a greater understanding of the people dehumanized. Just as I have befriended many of them, they have befriended me.
Together we yearn for a greater sense of compassion, understanding, and dignity from our society.
And finally, we long for justice.