2018 4 P.M. Count

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2018

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4 P.M. COUNT Supervisor of Education / Publisher G. Singh 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Writer-in-Residence / Editor-in-Chief Jim Reese Copy Editor

S. Marielle Frigge

Design and Layout

Stephanie Schultz

A Publication by Federal Prison Camp, Yankton, SD. All poems, prose, and artwork are used with permission of the authors and artists, and they retain all rights to their work published herein. Except for brief quotations in reviews, no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author. This book is not for sale. Federal Prison Camp Yankton P.O. Box 680 Yankton, SD 57078 Cover photo by G. Singh.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Special thanks go to the following people for their help in the production of the 2018 issue of 4 P.M. Count: Dr. Beth Bienvenu and Lauren Tuzzolino of the Office of Accessibility at the National Endowment for the Arts. Deltone Moore, Recreation Program Manager for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Warden H. Tellez; G. Singh, Supervisor of Education; and the fine staff at Federal Prison Camp Yankton. S. Marielle Frigge for her continued guidance and support. Stephanie Schultz for her continued design expertise and editing. And thanks to all of my new students. You guys are a talented bunch of writers-don’t ever forget that. Dr. Jim Reese

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 14

Edward Allen ·I Am Not Afraid ·Spring flowers, so pretty! ·A Long Time Out to Ponder the Good Life ·Redneck with Rifles

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J. Sauceda ·Mount Marty Presentation ·Personal Sports Moment

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Christopher Warren ·A Moment of Truth: #2BeLikeAli ·The Five Hundred and Fifth Saturday ·Donald Duck ·Jailhouse Conversion ·Samantha Rides

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Donald Hynes ·A Salute to My First Day on Job Twenty ·The Un-Shy Introvert ·Transcript of Speech to Mount Marty Students

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Mount Marty College Student Reflections ·Aimee Huntley - Finding Common Ground ·Hannah Buchholz - Visiting FPC Yankton ·McKenna Cooley - Our College Class Goes to Prison

87 Marquise Bowie ·Actions ·The Verdict ·A Reflection on Black History 100

Michael P. Murphy ·Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky ·Fire ·Scared into Death

113 Mr. Anstett ·Tryng to attract a significant other ·When have I used my voice to make a difference?

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Vasudeva Clayton ·Inner Turmoil ·Lords of the Corn

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Mr. Desai ·Handmade ·A rip of static

130 Visiting Author Letters ·Allen Eskens ·Daryl Farmer ·Neil Harrison ·Sister Marielle Frigge 147

Ryan Fagan ·Grizzly Bear

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Brandon Franklin ·Act of Coolness ·Wheels of Summer ·Scary Moments

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Lony Gatwas ·Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

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Mr. Nash ·Prison Blues ·I Dreamed a Dream

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Michael Paiva ·A Dream of the End ·Video Games ·For Eternity

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Akeelan Paulette ·The Sunrise Window ·What Love Is...? ·Why Write?

200 Terrall E. Tillman, Sr. ·My Experience at Yankton FPC 206

Why Creative Writing is Important in Prison

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The hillside design has been a horticulture student project since the early 1990s. Each year the Landscape Design students submit their design ideas for selection by the warden. The design for 2018 features FPC Yankton’s 30 Years of service to the Yankton Community. Photo credit: B. Hegge.

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2018 4 P.M. Count class photo.

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FOREWORD FROM WARDEN HERIBERTO H. TELLEZ 4 P.M. Count is in its eleventh year of publication at Federal Prison Camp Yankton (FPC Yankton). This publication is a product of the Artist-In-Residence program, funded through the National Endowment for the Arts. Under the tutelage of Mount Marty College’s Associate Professor, FPC Yankton inmates have grown not only intellectually, but also emotionally and morally. Federal Prison Camp Yankton is fortunate to be a part of the nationwide program, which only five other Bureau facilities offer. It is the continuation of programs such as thesethat assist offenders in reintegrating back into society and help them transition into law-abiding, responsible, and hardworking citizens. The program has helped over 200 incarcerated men heal through self-reflection and expression during the intensive ten-month program. The Education Department staff have always been supportive of this opportunity and continually encourage offenders to grow and become a better version of themselves. The program gives inmates a productive focus in their lives. It teaches them discipline while providing a healthy outlet for a vast variety of emotions they are experiencing. It is an avenue for them to put into words and images experiences that shaped their lives. It instills in them the knowledge that they have talent and skill, while improving their feelings of self-worth and confidence. The program culminates in a final product they can be proud of and showcase to others. The Artist-In-Residence program provides them a path to follow to lead them out of their past and sparks a gleam of hope for a brighter future. As we begin the second decade of this most notable program, it is under the supervision and guidance of a new Supervisor of Education. He will undoubtedly bring fresh and innovative ideas to progress the program and the 8

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ideology of education, as his predecessors did, each with a unique talent and special passion for education and selfbetterment. I express my appreciation and gratitude to all the great educators involved in making this program a success. You have changed the lives of many through your professionalism, dedication, and true desire to enhance the existence of others. You serve as a role model for the men incarcerated at FPC Yankton who have often had difficult and challenging times in their lives and have not always made the best choices. Reading through the writings and exploring the artwork of 4 P.M. Count, a wide variety of emotions are experienced: pain, sorrow, humor, awe, hopelessness to hope, darkness, and many others. So as you take up the 2018 edition of 4 P.M. Count, be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster journey we call life.

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PREFACE BY S. CYNTHIA BINDER This year marks the twenty-ninth year of our Associate Degree Programs that Mount Marty College (MMC) offers to the prisoners at Federal Prison Camp Yankton (FPC Yankton). This endeavor has been extremely successful. Both MMC and the educational staff at FPC Yankton have collaborated generously and consistently so that many prisoners could leave here armed with the Associate Degree, plus other certificates for various careers. The FPC Yankton administration supported the instructors wholeheartedly. They wanted the prisoners to succeed in every way: academically, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. We could not have had better partners in this collaboration. As a teacher, I have always sensed that our work at FPC Yankton was in a “teachers paradise.” The men worked hard, did their assignments seriously and thoroughly, and most of all, had a strong change of attitude about their prison experience. Life, the life they wanted for themselves and their families, was regained, restored, rejuvenated. Their inner lives now held for them the transformation, maturity, and wholeness they had built while here. Such changes left us all in awe of what the human spirit can achieve. How proud we all are of what happens year after year in this “teachers paradise.” After twenty-five years at FPC Yankton, I retired five years ago. It was time to let go. I loved and still cherish my experience there. Such a blessing it was! Teachers learn from students every day. FPC Yankton is no exception. I respect their wisdom, their suffering, and their struggles that were all a part of their transformation. I am grateful for my chance to walk with them and learn so much. Every day I tell the Lord to give them kindness and goodness throughout their lives. Blessings to you all. Sr. Cynthia Binder, Retired Associate Professor of Humanities Mount Marty College 10

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INTRODUCTION BY JIM REESE Did you know around seventy million Americans have some sort of criminal record? That’s almost one in three Americans of working age (White House). Ninetyfive percent of those incarcerated are getting out of prison (Bureau of Justice). “Do you want them educated or not?” That’s what our former warden, Jordan R. Hollingsworth, used to ask. “These guys are coming to a neighborhood near you. Do you want them educated or not?” He taught us to prepare men to be better people. Right now, there are approximately 2.2 million Americans behind bars. The United States accounts for five percent of the world’s population, and twenty-five percent of its inmates. Each year, more than 600,000 inmates are released from federal and state prisons, and another 11.4 million individuals cycle through local jails. From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, one in every thirty-one adults, or more than three percent of the population, is under some form of correctional control (NAACP). There are 1,800 state and federal correctional facilities and 3,200 local and county jails. To put these figures in context, we have slightly more jails and prisons in the U.S.—5,000 plus—than we do degree-granting colleges and universities. In many parts of America, particularly the South, there are more people living in prisons than on college campuses (Ingraham). WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Chances are really high that crime has affected you, your family or your extended family in some capacity. As a taxpayer, I know I don’t want to pay money just to lock someone up. I would hope 4 P.M. COUNT

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incarceration is teaching these men something. Is just locking someone up doing that? Statistics say no. Statistics say two-thirds of men will reoffend within three years, unless they receive some education and/or vocational training. If those services are utilized, recidivism rates go down. I think it’s crucial to mention a 2013 RAND Corporation report that found strong evidence that correctional education plays a role in reducing recidivism. The study concluded that every dollar spent on prison education translated into four to five dollars’ worth of savings during the first three years, post-release. You can lock a person up and let him out after so long. Maybe during his incarceration you teach him a trade— that’s great. What you also have to do is help him tap into the emotional instabilities that brought him to prison in the first place. Writing, art, and more importantly, education in corrections helps open that door. If a person never comes to terms with himself, one more angry person will be released back into society. This has been the most rewarding teaching experience I’ve ever had. It’s made me a better professor. It’s made me a better person. I really feel I am making a difference in these guys’ life—or helping make a difference. My students at Mount Marty College, where I am an Associate Professor, benefit, too. My creative writing classes work together at both locations to workshop their creative writing. MMC students visit the prison once a semester to see what an education program looks like in corrections, and to work with other creative writers. They get feedback and opinions on their work from inmate students who take their classes very seriously. Everyone benefits—and he or she is learning a lot more than just how to make his or her creative writing better. There’s a large empathy factor that comes into play for all the students participating. All of the students take this experience with them for their future endeavors. One can read about these interactions in this year’s journal. Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in 12

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your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I really feel like what I’m doing at the prison is what I have been called to do. I’m human, I’ve made some mistakes in my life. I wish I could take them back, but I can’t. There are a lot of guys at the prison who are in that same boat. My students at the prison can do their time productively and walk out richer for the show. We have uploaded the last few issues of the journal online. To read the 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017 issue of 4 P.M. Count please visit: www.issuu.com and type in “4 P.M. Count” in their search engine (issuu is the largest collection of free-to-read publications from publishers around the globe). Another book of interest that featured our program is the Federal Bureau of Prisons publication of Making Changes. This publication highlights programs, events, inmate reentry stories, and more to showcase various ways the Bureau supports inmates in making a successful transition to the community. To download and read this visit: https://www.bop.gov/resources/publications.jsp. I am honored and grateful for being the National Endowment for the Arts Writer-in-Residence at FPC Yankton for the past eleven years. I believe all people want to do the right thing—to live healthy, productive lives—to give to their communities, even if they’ve failed at such endeavors before. If people are given a chance to learn, lives can change. All of us make misdirected decisions, but that shouldn’t restrict anyone from the right to an education, or a right to a second chance. Sincerely, Jim Reese, Ph.D. NEA Writer-in-Residence Federal Prison Camp Yankton, 2018

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Bureau of Justice Statistics “Reentry Trends in the U.S.” https://www.bjs.gov/content/reentry/reentry.cfm “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, donate.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact sheet. Ingraham, Christopher. “The U.S. has more jails than colleges. Here’s a map of where those prisoners live” www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/06/ the-u-s-has-more-jails-than-collegesheres-a-map-of-where-those-prisoners-live/ Office of the Press Secretary. “FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Business Pledge.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration. https:// obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/04 /11/fact-sheet-white-house-launches-fair-chance- business-pledge Rand Corporation. “Education and Vocational Training in Prisons Reduces Recidivism, Improves Job Outlook.” https://www.rand.org/news/press/2013/08/22.html For more information about Jim Reese and his work visit: www.jimreese.org

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Edward Allen

fall.

Edward Allen grew up in the small, rural community of Arcadia, FL. After graduating from Florida Southern College in 1998 with a degree in business, he pursued a career in financial services and real estate investing. Having served six years of incarceration at the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota, Edward will complete his sentence and be released this

Edward has participated in the Creative Writing program two previous years and rejoined this year in hopes of further developing his writing talents. The creative writing program’s theme of “Transformative Justice” inspired Edward to take part in this year’s class as an opportunity for further self-development. Edward shared the following about his experience with the program: “I am grateful to Dr. Reese for his dedication to lead the creative writing class here at FPC Yankton. The program has allowed me to further develop my skills in writing and self-expression, and more importantly, has taught me to better process and learn from my life’s experiences. This program has been instrumental in helping me prepare for my future by helping me become more reconciled with my past. I have learned about the man I was, so I can more clearly direct my life toward becoming the man I desire to be.”

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I AM NOT AFRAID After spending two years on pre-trial release, another six years incarcerated within the same two city blocks at the prison camp, and (soon to be) my final six months under the Bureau of Prison’s custody at a halfway house, I am not at all afraid or anxious about my future. I’ll face any future challenges with my head held high, my eyes trained forward with determination, and my emotions steeled to resolve. I am not afraid of the lifetime sentence I have received: forever being called a felon, forever having to check that box on an employment application, forever having to warn a prospective investor that I pled guilty to fraud, or forever having to say to a prospective employee, “Are you OK working for a company owned by someone who spent time in prison?” I am not at all afraid of talking to a woman for the first time, after almost literally never having had a casual conversation with a woman in six years, or of trying to find a way to slide into that first date conversation, “Oh by the way, I spent some time in the big house.” I am not afraid of my future children’s playmates’ parents saying, “You can’t play at their house. I saw on the internet their dad is a felon.” I am not afraid of being rejected for admissions into a club, organization, or housing development because of the permanent record of my past failures. I am not afraid of feeling shame or embarrassment when a new friend first discovers that I have “done some time,” when I run into one of my victims in the grocery store and field that horribly awkward stare, or when I face those who might judge me a failure because of my past failures. I am not afraid of trying to pay my debt to society, of trying to pay my restitution, or trying to make up for my 16

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failure, but forever being told that it is not yet enough, you still owe more. No, I am not afraid at all of my future and the challenges I’ll face. Oh. Wait. Yes, I am. I’m terrified!

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SPRING FLOWERS, SO PRETTY! “Mail Call,” the officer announced over the intercom, “A through H, Mail Call.” I went down to the officer’s station and waited to see if I would be a lucky contestant that day. I heard my name called and answered back, “Pass!” so the officer would see I was there to receive my prize and pass me the piece of mail. I recognized my mom’s cursive in the return address and warmed to a smile, as I made my way back up the stairs to my room. Every few weeks, Mom sends me a “Happy Package.” When I was a young boy, Mom would bring my sister and me little treats when she returned from trips to the grocery store or to town—small presents, not for any particular occasion, but given just to make us… happy. I have been receiving little “Happys” all my life now. Back in my room, I leaned back against the wall, sitting on my bunk, and opened the package: a few magazines, a card, some newspaper clippings, and a couple of pages of printed pictures. One of the pictures shows an orchid plant in full spring bloom. A long row of pink and white flowers is in sharp contrast to the green and woody stems. The plant is cradled in a small square, wooden basket filled with sphagnum moss, its air roots hanging out the bottom, dangling below. A thin piece of wire comes up from each of the four corners of the lattice box and meet, twisted into a hook. In the picture, I can see the orchid plant is hanging at a new spot in the yard—a low branch on a little wiry oak tree next to the pasture gate. Mom transplanted this “volunteer” oak sapling several years back. The lowest branches are about chest high now and the little tree’s uppermost branch tips reach to only twelve or fifteen feet. It looks like the tree has probably doubled in size since my last visit home. I see 18

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in that tree my mother’s wisdom and her patience with life. A volunteer oak, to me, would have been a weed growing up in my lawn in the wrong spot. But to Mom, the acorn that hatched and took root is nature’s gift to her, to perfect her landscape design-over the next fifteen to twenty years. What a difference in patience and perspective. If I had wanted a tree, I would have headed over to the tree farm to buy a nice big one. The biggest I could afford, of course. But not Mom; she understands that sometimes things can be more precious and more beautiful when we have paid the price of time and sacrifice to nurture and develop them. We aren’t just growing trees; we are creating a shared history of experiences and memories. The pink-flowered orchid plant hanging from the oak limb is over twenty years old now. I honestly can’t even remember from where I first got it. I don’t remember buying the little plant, and certainly don’t think it would have been a gift from anyone I knew. The only thing I remember is that I brought it home one time when I returned for a visit from college. Or maybe it had been during one of those first few years after graduation when I still regularly came home to do laundry and enjoy some home cooking. It wasn’t really a gift for Mom; I didn’t present it to her or make much note of it. Rather, I just brought home an orchid I really liked, and hung it up on the porch amongst Mom’s other flowers and plants—as if I had found a stray puppy that needed a home, and had presumptuously just added it to the collection of animals on the ranch. But ever since, Mom adopted the plant and has faithfully taken care of it. When the mature growth got too thick she would trim it back. When a prosperous year for the little guy caused it to press the limits of its basket, she would transplant it to a new one or cut back some of the overgrowth. Unlike puppies, orchids are pretty easy to care for. They are actually parasites, and will attach themselves to healthy trees or plants out in the wild. More like weeds, in fact. Maybe that’s why the orchid is thriving so well under 4 P.M. COUNT

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the shade of the volunteer oak—they share a kindred spirit. Not only did Mom adopt and care for the orchid, but over the years she picked up the custom of reporting to me periodically on its health and progress as well. In the first five or ten years, I didn’t really pay much mind to the orchid or show any concern for its existence. Mom’s updates just seemed like one of those quirky things a mom would do. I did still admire the plant, when I would come home for a visit and would see it somewhere new in the yard, joyfully sharing its bloom. But after all, it’s just an ordinary orchid. A stray I had picked up somewhere along life’s path. Then, over time, I began to think it was cute, the fact that she would tell me about the health and progress of a yard plant. Sometimes she might not mention the plant for a long while, but then, out of nowhere, “Your orchid has flowers again. It looks really pretty. I had to trim back the roots and add some new moss to the basket. It’s still healthy and doing good.” I am sitting on my bunk—Kingsbury housing unit, fourth floor, bunk thirty-four lower—looking at the picture of the delicate pink flowers and bright green stems. Now that I have been in prison for over five years, the simplest things take on rich, textured meanings. As I look down at the picture of the orchid my chest tightens with emotion. My eyes become a little too moist. I am recognizing the little bond of affection Mom and I share captured in this plant. A plant I brought home as a fluke, because I found joy in it as a young man, that Mom has quietly and faithfully nurtured and cared for, for nearly all of my adult life. As the years have passed, I have matured to see how her love and care for me is displayed through her constancy and faithfulness in attending patiently to the small things—like my frequent Happy Packages of magazines and pictures, or cards in the mail for every 20

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holiday, or the more deeply symbolic gesture of her extended care and affection for the adopted orchid. Now we both find joy in some simple spring flowers. On the back of the picture, in Mom’s cursive, “Spring flowers, so pretty!”

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A LONG TIME OUT TO PONDER THE GOOD LIFE I recently read: Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted, but in getting what you have, which once you’ve got it, you may be smart enough to see, is what you would have wanted, had you known. When I think back to the things I once thought I wanted, the goals and dreams I pursued, I can see now that I am fortunate that I did not get them. I certainly would have preferred to have spent the last six years of my life in some place other than federal prison. But I can make a strong case for the argument that my prison sentence is what I most needed. If you head off in the wrong direction, is it not a kindness or a blessing to be stopped sooner into your journey, rather than being allowed to go much farther down the wrong road? My life was headed in the wrong direction; I was in chase of an illusion. So was it not a blessing to be stopped from my progression down that path and forcibly turned to head in a new direction, even if it was against my will in the beginning? By being marched in the new direction, I began to see the difference in the new path, began to gain new sight and understanding, and thereby began to accept that the new direction was in fact a far better one. As I progressed even further along, my emotions became more aligned with my new direction and I realized that I wanted this new path more than I had wanted the old one. If I would have known the change that is possible from a half-decade long sabbatical—the leisure time needed to electively walk through a mid-life re-evaluation—I think, I am almost smart enough to realize, this opportunity is the very thing I should have wanted. A chance to take a long time out from life—long enough to consider the deep questions of whom I am, what I am living for, and what really is ‘the good life.’ 22

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REDNECKS WITH RIFLES “Hey! Hey, you!” the passenger in the truck yelled at me. “Nine-One-One. What’s your emergency?” I held the phone receiver tight to my ear, trying to pretend that I hadn’t heard the teenage boy in the truck behind me trying to get my attention. I leaned in to the wall-mounted pay phone acting as if I were hovering over the phone for privacy. I spoke softly into the phone receiver, “Yes, ma’am, I am at the gas station here south of Gainesville, at the corner of State Road 37 and some local or county road. There is a man here in a small black pickup and he is driving drunk. I’ve been behind them for about four or five miles, and in that short stretch, he passed several vehicles, was swerving all over the road, and actually ran two cars into the ditch. I decided I needed to call for help when he forced a mini-van off the road.” Actually, I made the decision to call for help when I noticed one of those “Baby on board” stickers in the van’s window. It was almost ten o’clock at night, so I assumed there probably weren’t actually kids in the mini-van right now. However, the realization there might have been was enough to prompt my sense of civic duty. When the truck tried to pass the van with another oncoming car closing the distance, the van was forced to run off onto the shoulder of the road to get away from the truck as it swerved back into the right hand lane. I slowed way down to make sure the van made it back onto the road and to avoid crashing into it myself. The van pulled back onto the road, blocking my view of the truck ahead of us as it drove off into the dark night. A few miles farther down the road, I began to see the glow up ahead of some bright lights of a convenience store and gas station. In 1996, cell phones were still too expensive for a college kid, so I pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot, 4 P.M. COUNT

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where I thought I could use the phone. I stepped out of my truck and headed inside the store. Just as I pulled on the door handle to open the glass doors, I saw in my peripheral vision the small black pickup had parked at the far end of the building. I hadn’t noticed the truck when I pulled into the parking lot. I assumed they had driven off and were long gone by now. As I entered the store, I asked the woman at the counter if she had a phone I could use. She said the store’s phone was broken, but that I could use the pay phone on the wall, outside the building, at the end of the sidewalk. Before I could explain my situation, I saw that the driver of the truck was already walking down the sidewalk along the front of the building and was about to come inside. He came into the store and crossed just behind me, so I decided to just gut it up and walked outside to the pay phone to call in the report. “OK, sir. The system tells me the address where you are. I am sending a deputy to your location. Has anyone been injured? Is the driver of the other vehicle still there?” the 911 operator asked. “No, no one has been injured. The mini-van made it back onto the road after they passed. And, yes ma’am, they’re still here. I am standing right in front of the truck at this 7-Eleven. I tried to call from inside the store, but the attendant said their phone isn’t working. I had to come outside and use the pay phone, which is directly in front of where the truck is parked. The driver is an older man and he is in the store right now. And then there is a younger kid still in the passenger seat of the truck,” I explained. “Hey, man! I am talking to you!” I heard the boy yell from just behind me. I turned around, made a frustrated face at the boy, and gestured with my hand waving him off. “Dude, I’m on the phone,” I yelled back. He sat less than ten feet away from me in the passenger seat of the small pickup. Then he leaned way out of the open truck window. “Who you talking to?” he growled. “I’m talking to my girlfriend. Leave me alone,” I 24

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answered. The 911 operator asked me, “Can you give me a description of the vehicle and the driver?” I started to answer, “Yeah, the truck is an old, beat-up Ford Ranger. Its paint job is black, but the body is in….” At that point, I heard the distinct sound of the truck door’s rusty hinge creaking open. I turned to look behind me and saw the boy lower his right foot to the ground, half-standing, half-sitting in the truck. Then he squared his shoulders and shifted his weight to the standing leg. As the boy shifted his weight, he lowered a rifle into the crack of the truck door, and held it pointing right at my chest. I could see the open sights on top of the rifle, a wood grain stock, and a green and black shoulder strap dangling below the gun. The black hole of the rifle’s barrel stared back at me. “You better not be talking to the….” It took those seven words for my brain to register the danger. Without any further thought, I dropped the phone and sprinted around the corner of the building. Behind me, I heard the truck door creak and groan as the boy moved his weight. Adrenaline pushed my heart rate to redline and my mind flooded with panic and fear. I couldn’t think straight, but instinctively I knew I had better get the heck away from the boy pointing the rifle at me. I ran all the way around the back of the store through the pitch dark and reached the opposite side front corner of the building. I slowly peeked around the corner. I prayed I would see the boy still at the truck, and not hear him coming up behind me in the dark. I looked down across the front of the building, past the security window used for after-hours transactions, past the double door front entrance, past the ice bag dispenser box, and to the pickup still sitting in front of the pay phone at the far end of the building. A wave of relief broke over me when I saw him sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, staring out toward the direction I had first run, not knowing I had circled the building and now stood watching him. As I peered along the front of the building, my heart skipped a beat when I 4 P.M. COUNT

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saw the pay phone receiver had been hung back up. At that moment, I heard the store’s door chime ding, and the driver of the truck exited the store. He walked away from me toward his pickup. He wore camouflage pants, like the ones from an army surplus store, a dark T-shirt, and brown lace-up hiking boots. He had a scraggly beard that matched his light-brown, wind-blown hair. I imagined he had probably been out in the woods on a hunting trip and had only come to town when they ran out of beer. He looked like he badly needed a shower. He carried a twelve pack of Natty-Light in his left hand and a plastic bag of foodstuff in his right. I leaned back against the building, intentionally drawing in a few deep breaths, trying to command my body to settle down. As he approached their truck, I heard the boy say, “Hey, I think that guy might have called the cops on us, we gotta get outta here.” A new level of panic and overwhelming fear hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer, as I thought: “What am I going to do if they get out of the truck and start looking for me?” I could see they were both looking in the other direction, so I took a few big steps forward and reached the passenger door of my F-150 pickup, which I had parked right in front of this end of the building. Standing behind the cover of the passenger side of my truck, I felt better hidden from their view. I opened the passenger door and leaned the bench seat forward, while keeping my eyes on the other truck and the two occupants at the other end of the building. The man walked past the front of his truck, opened the driver’s side door, and stepped up into the driver’s seat. My heart pounded as I heard them talking back and forth, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. There were seven parking spaces between us, and only two of them had cars parked in them; both cars were empty. I reached up and pulled my twenty-gauge pump action shotgun off the hidden gun rack strapped to the back of the bench seat, being careful to keep it low and out of sight. I never kept the gun loaded, but I stored a box of shells right 26

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below it. I shoved four of the number four buckshot into the magazine, clicked on the safety, and pushed the slide release button, pulling the pump slide back into its open position. With one motion, I could jack a shell into the chamber. The shotgun—loaded and ready—felt heavy. I glanced down at my trembling hands and thought, “Am I really ready to use this gun on another man, or that teenage boy? Please God, make them drive away.” I had never been as afraid as I felt in that moment—a level of fear that I knew would make me do whatever I had to, to protect myself. I heard their truck start up, and watched as they slowly backed out of the parking space. The driver turned on the truck’s headlights, which caused the beams of light to cut an arc passing across the open pasture next to the store. I could tell they were looking for me out in the darkness. The driver dropped the clutch in the little pickup and the tires squealed as he shot out of the parking lot. I sucked in a huge quivering breath and exhaled, trying to release all of my anxiety. I looked over to the gas pumps—two cars, three people, and no one looking in my direction. The fluorescent lights over the cars flickered and I noticed hundreds of moths and bugs swarming around, attracted to the light. I looked into the store and saw the sales clerk busy with one customer and another waiting in line. No one saw what had just happened. No one had paid any attention to me at all. No one knew I had just had my life threatened. I walked back down the front of the building to the pay phone and called 911 again. A different dispatcher took my information and let me know officers were already on their way. She told me they had been tracking these suspects for the last hour and had already received half a dozen calls that night reporting their out-of-control behavior. Within a few minutes, a county Sheriff came ripping into the parking lot with his blue lights flashing. He quickly gathered the gist of my story and sped off in pursuit of the black truck, though not before commanding me to stay put until another officer arrived. Within a few minutes, a few more 4 P.M. COUNT

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cop cars went speeding through the intersection, with their lights flashing and sirens blaring out into the night. My fight-or-flight adrenaline overload had settled some and I began thinking this is probably more excitement than these sleepy-town officers have had in months. After about fifteen minutes, one of the deputies drove into the parking lot and told me they had apprehended the suspects at a nearby bar. And now, he expected me to come identify them. At this point, I developed a sinking feeling in my stomach. I began thinking I had made a really bad decision. I wanted to be responsible and help protect innocent people from an out-of-control drunk driver, but now I was being dragged deeper into this situation. Why hadn’t I been smart enough just to report the events anonymously, and then get back on the road headed home? I felt stupid and trapped in a drama of my own making. I followed the officer’s vehicle for a few miles as we wandered through some back roads. I had no idea where we were, and had no clue as to what might be out in these country roads. A few miles further, the officer pulled into a gravel parking lot in front of a long, low-slung building. A dark, wooden privacy fence extended from each end of the building, making the front façade appear about one hundred and fifty feet long. A dozen cars and trucks sat parked along the front of the building in a semi-organized fashion. I realized we were pulling up to a trashy roadside bar, literally in the middle of nowhere. There were three cop cars in front of us. All of them had their doors open, their lights flashing, and their headlights and spotlights trained on the front of the bar. I could see that all of the light had been concentrated on the black truck, which sat parked four spots to the right of the front door. The officer motioned for me to get out of my truck and to follow him. We eased up between the cars and I saw two men standing against the building’s front wall, directly in front of the little pickup, with their hands behind their backs in handcuffs. An officer stood behind each of them and another officer appeared to be either searching 28

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or ransacking the truck. The officer next to me said, “We apprehended those two inside the bar and they’ve already confessed they were the ones driving. We need you to positively identify the vehicle, the driver, the passenger, and the gun they pointed at you. These spotlights are shined right at them, so even when they turn around they won’t be able to see you. OK?” The officer next to me hollered ahead at one of the two deputies guarding the men. They turned the scragglybearded man and the young boy around to face out from the building. I stood probably thirty feet away, but with several spotlights and three cars’ high beams trained on them, I could see clear as day. I answered the officer’s questions and the two of them were turned back around to face the wall. The officer walked forward to the truck and picked up a rifle lying on the open tailgate. “Is this the weapon you saw?” “Yes, sir. It looks like the same one. It’s a 30-carbine right? I have a friend who has one just like it, so I know what it looks like.” I replied. “Yep, I think that’s right, 30-carbine. And you say one of ‘em pointed it at you?” he asked. I explained the details to the officer. How the boy had been standing halfway in and out of the truck, how he had held the rifle low in the doorjamb, so other people couldn’t see it. And how, as soon as I recognized the rifle, I had run around the side of the building, grateful to learn that the boy hadn’t followed me. I omitted the unnecessary details about readying my own weapon. “I guess you’re lucky. Or at least you’re fortunate things didn’t go much worse. The rifle was loaded when we found it in the truck, four in the magazine and one in the chamber. Plus, they had a couple of knives and pistols with ‘em too. All of ‘em were loaded. We’ve had reports that these two were firing off shots earlier this evening. I am guessing they were blasting holes in road signs, on their way back to town. Probably from a hunting trip in the green swamp. I’m glad we caught up with them before someone got hurt.” 4 P.M. COUNT

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Artwork by: Doug Allen

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Artwork by: Robert Asche

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J. Sauceda J. Sauceda was an inmate serving his sentence in Yankton, SD.

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MOUNT MARTY PRESENTATION I was transferred to FPC Yankton from another institution in October of 2017. However, it seemed to me that shortly after my arrival, I had begun to hear rumblings about joining this “Creative Writing” class. To be honest, I was not at all excited or seriously considering it, but I eventually did join. So when I was asked to share my thoughts about the class at FPC Yankton in front of visiting college students from Mount Marty, I was a little nervous. Why? Full and frank disclosure: the actual reason I joined the class was stupid and immature. I will share it with you shortly; however, a brief look into my background may shed some light as to how such a decision- making process (or lack thereof) took place. In a previous life, I was involved in real estate, buying and flipping homes. Unlike the lies that are fabricated to audiences on HGTV, the life a real estate investor is actually pretty boring. It boiled down to sitting in front of the computer and sorting through hundreds of property listings; however that was only after hours of having worked on Excel spreadsheets. I ran my business through Excel and trusted a very dry and mathematical process to dictate the decisions I made about properties on a daily basis. For example, after inputting raw sales data, the spreadsheets would dictate what specific markets we should be looking at, which in turn highlighted specific neighborhoods; that narrowed down to the individual property listings we would sort through, based on projected profit margins. The profit margins were very important for us because that is what would attract outside lenders and investors. The spreadsheets would allow me to quantify complex factors, making my world very “black and white.” Once data was entered, the calculations that resulted allowed us to make very quick and broad decisions; but they were educated 4 P.M. COUNT

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decisions that minimized our risk. The spreadsheets allowed us to look at an entire market and quickly say “yes” or “no” about investing time and resource into it. Once we entered into commitments on properties, spreadsheets again allowed us to input data, track it and improve our processes and controls. As you can tell, there was NOTHING creative about my work. So when I was approached about joining a creative writing class, I was not thrilled about signing up—it was well outside of my comfort zone. That was strike one against joining the class. Another obstacle that I had to overcome was what I pictured Creative Writing to be: I imagined a bunch of jailhouse poets sitting in a circle, holding hands and talking about their feelings. Two major things wrong with that, in my mind. First: those actions, especially in that setting, ARE NOT and COULD NOT be rationalized! Second: my wife didn’t even know I had feelings; now I was supposed to find them in prison? Not likely. Strike two. However, as I was being talked to about the details of the program, I heard what ultimately became the reason I decided to join, which was: we were allowed to sit in front of a computer during class. That’s it. Forewarned. Stupid and immature. The simple act of being in front of a computer brought back too many memories for me to try to ignore. Plus, I was just over a year away from my release date. My goal was to get some type of job in a professional setting when I returned home, and that too would call for being in front of a computer. So I bit the bullet and signed up for Creative Writing. However, if these pre-conceived notions that I had were true, and guys started getting cuddly and cute—I was out! I have attended numerous classes throughout my life— grade school, high school, college and even continuing education as a professional. Since my reason for joining this class was so personal, I did make a promise to myself before we attended our first meeting, which was that I would give this class the best half-try I had ever given any other class 34

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before! Yes, even more than “Music Theory” back in my freshman year of college. Now, that is no small feat; ask my wife. I am the absolute best at giving half-tries at things I normally would not do. I am uncontested and a seasoned veteran. And so, my journey in “Creative Writing” began. As the class progressed, I found myself relishing the sheer personal joy of being in front of a computer again— even if it was only a virtual PC desktop. However, that was overshadowed by the reason I decided to stay in the class. Actually it would be more accurate for me to say reasons—sixteen, to be exact. Those turned out to be the other gentlemen that participated in the program, my fellow inmates. Their stories are AMAZING. Yes, we all had made our mistakes; yes, we are felons. Some of us were involved in the drug trade; some of us were in prison for financial mishandlings. However, we all have a story to tell and different aspects of our lives expose detail on those stories. I have learned about different viewpoints of life that I would have never considered—lessons that are powerful enough to break stereotypes with anyone who is open enough to hear them. The Creative Writing class became the perfect venue for those stories and opinions. As another added benefit, the class has given me the opportunity not only to notice, but to get to know someone whom I had been ignoring my entire life. No, it wasn’t a parent, my best friend, my wife or my kids. It was myself. The class has allowed me to put my life into perspective and review my past, in particular the part of my life that led me to prison. It gave me a need to answer a muchneeded question and the tools to dig deep—really deep—in order to answer it. I had to go past the misleading “whats” and “hows”; fight the temptation of stopping there, and go further to get to the root of my actions and answer my “whys.” Although I cannot quantify those “whys” and enter them into a spreadsheet, I found that through the prompts given in class, the thoughts they provoked and the writings that resulted, I was still tracking something. But what I was tracking this time, was more important than 4 P.M. COUNT

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data—my thoughts and the course my actions took, and will take, moving forward. It takes a little more work, but with contemplation and enlightened undertakings, I can improve my life as well—something a spreadsheet cannot do. To the students of Mount Marty who made the trip to a prison and workshopped with inmates, I want to personally say “THANK YOU.” The afternoon of our meeting, there was a very weird dynamic taking place in the room. For those of us dressed in khaki (the prison uniform), we could not be more excited that you were there. Your mere attendance in class meant there were three situational elements present in coherence, which rarely occurs in a prison setting. Primarily, you are visitors from the “outside”—normal people living the lives we only daydream of getting back to. Second, the meeting/class was going to be positive; under normal conditions, gathering a number of inmates in the same room meant that there was some type of demeaning and/or demoralizing reprimand that was about to take place. Third, and definitely not least, we were going to interact with you! Since FPC Yankton is located right in the middle of a residential community, we are specifically prohibited from making any contact with the public; so being able to speak with other adults that were not prison staff is a BIG deal. However, from the perspective of the students who made the trip, there was a bit of “hesitation,” for lack of a better term. I could see it on your faces as you walked into the room; almost on your tippy-toes, as if not wanting to disturb something at rest, something worth being fearful of. The morning of the meeting, I attempted to put myself in your shoes by trying to imagine what was going through your minds at that exact same time. But I could not do it. Not genuinely. The reason was because I could not unlearn all the experiences that prison life has taught me and ignore the false stereotypes and stigmatized images the public has of those that live it. As I thought about how to relate to your feelings, the only thing that I could come up with as an analogy was a trip to a petting zoo, as a matter of scale, of 36

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course. At the petting zoo, a trainer walks out with a fifteenfoot boa constrictor and not only parades the predator around, he actually encourages the visitors to touch it. As one musters the courage to reach out to touch its scales, there are all sorts of thoughts, doubts and questions racing through one’s mind. Everything from exaggerated thoughts, to the rationalizing of actions; self-doubt arises as well as the sanity of everyone involved, “The trainer would not have brought this out unless it was REALLY safe, right?!” As one finally makes contact with the animal, a short celebration takes place internally, but quickly dissipates as reality settles back in—one is in contact with one of the largest predators on the planet! I can see how we (the inmates) were that boa constrictor to the Mount Marty students in the room. Despite that hesitation and initial fear, you found the courage to reach out to us. Thank you for doing that! And see, we didn’t even bite!

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PERSONAL SPORTS MOMENT The count was 0-2 and it was a blur as to how it got there. I sized up homeplate. As I tapped the far top righthand corner of the plate, the eighteen ounce aluminum bat I was using suddenly felt like it weighed one-hundred pounds. My arms shook from fear and anticipation for the ball of death that was going to be momentarily thrown in my direction. I collected myself the best I could, got into my batting stance and gazed up toward the pitcher from under my oversized batting helmet. Orlando returned the gaze, his face hidden behind his glove and all I could see were his squinted eyes, concentrated on reading my death sentence, which was being relayed to him from the back-catcher. He nodded his head in acknowledgement of the signals he had just received. The execution order was about to be carried out—I knew his fastball was coming. It was my first year of playing little league baseball, and we had been on a hell of a streak—there were thirty-six games in our season, and we were about three-quarters of the way through it and had not won a single game. We had not even won an inning; we never led in a game—if the game was tied, we were in a good position. As the season went on, we got very good at keeping the score tied before the first pitch of the game. Then, usually the whole “survival of the fittest” theory came into play. If the league would have become the African Safari, our baseball team would have played the role of a neurologically challenged, twolegged antelope. However, the only personal bright spot happened in July of 1992, under the least expected circumstance: an at-bat against unarguably the best pitcher in the league. It was right after the Fourth of July break—one that I had desperately needed to clear my head and forget about baseball for a few days. 38

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Personally, I had faced a bit of a slump—I had done nothing but strike out in the last two games before that much needed sabbatical. However, I was still feeling very down and my dad saw it in my body language. As we arrived at the park and pulled into the parking lot, he made me promise before we got out that I would leave all the negative thoughts behind me in the car. He said, “You have to learn how to forget everything that happened as you approach every play and every bat appearance. What happened the play before does not matter and will not play a factor in the future—unless you allow it to. Striking out does not mean you are doomed to strike out forever, but neither does getting a hit. Good or bad, control your emotions and steady your approach. Each play is a new opportunity; treat it that way.” My dad was so cool! He made things sound so easy. I was amped up and ready to try to not strike out! Then, I approached the field and realized what we were up against—the Minnesota Twins. They lost only two games to that point and we had to face Orlando, who even at ten years old, seemed to have major league scouts fighting for position behind home plate with radar guns to track his fastball. I remember the guy had the ability to ignite the ball on fire while in his pitching stance and then proceeded to launch it at a rate fast enough that each pitch had the resemblance of a comet flying a distance of about fifty feet. Even my dad had made a snide remark once, stating he couldn’t even hit his fastball! What the hell was I going to do?! We were the home team that game, and as I trotted out to my position at second base, I tried to store away what remained of the motivation my dad had left me with in the parking lot for the next game, because I knew we were in for an ass-whooping. And so the game began, and we were as close as we were going to get right then and there—the first pitch was knocked over our right fielder’s head and the batter made it all the way home before our fielder even caught-up with the ball. 1-0. “Here we go again”, I thought. 4 P.M. COUNT

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However, somehow we got out of the inning being down only three runs! That was the good news. The bad news was we now had to face Satan’s child on the mound. My first at bat against Orlando went as history had dictated to that point: I had struck out. I looked over to my dad sitting in the bleachers as I walked defeated, back to the dugout. I was able to read his lips: “Forget about it” as he gently shook his head. I went down swinging, which was a mental victory in itself. He threw so fast, many of our guys did not swing out of fear of getting hit by the ball, not to mention if you made contact with the ball and did not have the bat gripped properly, it stung your hands and hurt almost as bad as it did getting drilled. The game went on, and I remember it was remarkably close—10-0 was the score around the fourth inning when I got my next at bat. Normally we would have been down at least twenty—something positive was in the works that day. The batter before me was one that had adopted the “no swing” policy against Orlando, and he got lucky enough to walk. I knew there would be no way we would share the same fate. He normally would not walk batters, which meant I was not going to just face Orlando, but rather a pissed-off Orlando—pissed-off Orlando usually threw fifty miles per hour faster. There I found myself, once again, facing one of the scariest individuals I had known in my life up to that point. As I approached the plate, I could feel how much fear was roaring through my body and in an attempt to distract myself, I thought about the day I was going to laugh at how trivial this would end up being—but at that moment, it sucked. I sized up home plate and got in my batting stance, looked up at Orlando, who had a Randy Johnson-type pitching stance, his face hidden behind his mitt as he read the catcher’s signals—that only added to the fear factor of the entire situation. His first pitch left his hand and I heard the pop of the catcher’s mitt before I blinked. Strike One. Oh My God. I re-entered my batting stance, and prayed a quick Hail Mary and did an examination of conscience. 40

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I asked God for forgiveness for having tried to recreate Shawn Michaels’ Wrestlemania Ladder Match on my little brother two nights before—I should not have given him that last flying elbow from the arm rest of the couch in the living room. Orlando started from the stretch and delivered the next pitch, a change-up, and I swung—foul ball. In my head, I had just defeated Goliath. I had made contact with one of Orlando’s pitches and my hands were not in pain! I had a smile on my face that went from ear to ear and I stepped out of the batter’s box to glance at my dad—hoping he shared in my excitement. However, before my glance got that far, my third-base coach had a serious look on his face, telling me to get back into the batter’s box. My smile was gone and I settled back in and faced reality—it was an 0-2 count and I knew the fastball was coming next. I looked up at Orlando and prayed for a merciful outcome. He started his delivery and I gripped the bat as tight as I could, closed my eyes and swung—with no regard to timing, pitch location or anything else that I had been coached to do to that point. I expected to hear that all too familiar pop of the catcher’s mitt, but instead I heard the bing off the aluminum bat. I opened my eyes, and tried to verify that what I heard actually happened and not my imagination. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the catcher stand up, which never happens, unless…. Holy shit, I hit the ball! I saw my first base coach jumping wildly, as he yelled at me to start running. As I did, I located the ball down left field, realized that I had hit it pretty far, and fought the temptation to just stop and admire that feat. As I rounded first base, I glanced over to third and saw the runner before me being waved in. The ball went even farther than I had perceived. I made eye contact with the third base coach and I saw the sense of urgency on his face—his right hand pointed toward home and his left arm frantically moving in a counter-clockwise motion. I sprinted toward third base, my helmet bounced wildly up and down on my head, which caused temporary blindness as the visor rhythmically crossed my line of vision. 4 P.M. COUNT

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As I approached third base, I entered a temporary state of panic—I had never done this before! My third base coach yelled at me “Get on your horse! And make sure you slide!” as he continued the same enthusiastic arm movements while I passed him by. I put my head down and steamed toward home plate as fast as I could. One of my teammates stood on the opposite end of home plate, and motioned for me to slide. He looked like an irate gorilla— slamming the ground with both hands. As I approached the plate, I saw the catcher rip his mask off and straddle the plate—that only meant the ball was coming and there would be a play at home. I got close enough to the plate that I began my sliding motion, but in all the excitement, I failed to notice that my bat lay on the baseline, right where I had dropped it about thirty seconds prior. I had already committed myself to the slide, so there was no going back— my backside landed right on the barrel of the bat and I felt the compression of my spine and tailbone like a violent vehicle crash. I still had control of my extremities and reached out and touched the plate with my left hand, and then immediately rolled over to my stomach. I grimaced in pain and saw that the shortstop on the opposing team held the ball—he had decided the runs meant nothing since they still held an eight-run lead. Which had only meant my slide and all the accompanied pain and embarrassment was unnecessary—go figure. I had hit my first little league home run, and I felt it had cost me the ability to walk for the rest of my life, but the adrenaline of the moment numbed the pain enough that I got up shortly after I had rolled over. As I was celebrated back to the dugout, I glanced over to the bleachers and looked for my dad. I had hoped to see a smile on his face, but he was nowhere to be found. Our coach called our attention back to the game, and so I attempted to refocus on the task at hand. The game went on and we ended up losing 22-2. I struckout during my next atbat against Orlando, never hit as much as a foul ball, but I felt like a champion. Nothing could have erased the joy of a homerun off someone we had foreseen as a future Cy Young 42

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award winner—not even the awkward, bat-up-my-ass slide at the end of it. To top it off, our coach gave me the game ball, which was something that was given to the player on our team that had the best game, regardless of its outcome. As I received the last of the congratulatory fist bumps and slaps on the back, I limped back over to my dad, who was waiting on the far end of the field. By now, the adrenaline was long gone and the reality of the consequences for having dropped on an aluminum bat, backside first, was becoming apparent. He asked me what was wrong and I questioned if he had seen what happened during the fourth inning. He said no—that he had gone to the restroom, noticed we had scored two runs when he came back, but didn’t question how they had come to be. I proceeded to tell him about my entire at-bat, perhaps exaggerated some of the events in my favor, but could not credibly modify my bat slide at the end. It had now become clear to him why I had a limp and the game ball to go with it—as all he had seen me do was strike out twice. “See,” he said, as he reached under my hat and ruffled my hair, “sometimes it pays to have a short memory.” Little did he know, this memory would last a lifetime.

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Artwork by: Robert Asche

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Artwork by: Macdavis Bahe

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Christopher Warren Christopher Warren is from Sacramento, CA. The father of two children, he was formerly licensed as a mortgage broker and banker in California and Florida. Chris is currently finishing a fourteen year and seven month prison sentence. Since his incarceration began, he has earned bachelor degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies: Legal Studies from Adams State University, and in Christian Ministry from Signet Bible College. Chris served as a member-speaker in Those Outspoken, an inmate group that toured middle/high schools and community colleges in Kern County, CA. He has also worked as a prison law clerk and instructed financial literacy classes in Adult Continuing Education.

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A MOMENT OF TRUTH: #2BELIKEALI The email came in from my friend Natalie back in Sacramento: “Call. Jeff needs to talk to you.” That was all it said. I could tell something was wrong. Jeff was my best friend in high school, even though he went to Jesuit and I went to Christian Brothers. Our friendship started in middle school at Country Day – we also lived two blocks apart. Natalie was my best friend at Christian Brothers. And the two of them are now engaged to be married. I still stay in frequent communication with Natalie and she works hard to maintain our friendship: she emails me, pays for magazine subscriptions, and generally helps me out. Jeff and I are good too; I still have the book on Stoic philosophy by Epictetus that he mailed me in ’09 when I was just starting this 175 month prison trip. So if Jeff wants to talk, and I am calling Natalie’s cell phone, something is wrong. I call, she picks up. I hear the tension in her voice. The phone gets passed to Jeff. “Ali’s gone.” Translated: Ali’s dead. I don’t even know how he said it, but that’s all I heard. A phone call in federal prison is capped out at fifteen minutes. I made it six minutes before I had to disconnect and flee Jeff, the phone room, my prison khakis, and the experiencing of a new type of failure. How is this possible? Of course I know how it’s possible: stomach cancer had ravaged the biology of this thirty-five-year-old’s body. The best of our group of friends taken after a third of a life. But what a life he lived. He was the one who built affordable housing just minutes from downtown Sacramento because he knew it was the right thing to do. Natalie’s brother lives in the downtown artists’ lofts that Ali built and that breathed life into our hometown’s creative spirit. My kids have seen the Kings play hoops at the new arena that Ali played a critical role in developing, saving the team from being exported to Vegas or Anaheim or some other larger 4 P.M. COUNT

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city. Ali was the one who had risen above average, who exceeded any definition of good, and was a torch amongst shadows. In ten seconds, on a prison pay phone, he was taken away from all of us. That lunch I wanted to buy him when I got out was not going to happen. I was not going to be able to reminisce with him and Jeff and Dan and Burnsy about mud football games or middle school soccer matches or parties at Will’s house. In those ten seconds, in that moment, there was truth. Unadulterated truth. Ali was; and he is no longer. I would not be present and had not been present for him as he had been for me. And when I consider the meaning of his passing, his family’s pain, a community’s loss, and what exactly it means #2belikeAli, I ask myself the age-old question of the prefect at the trial: “What is truth?” Truth, in that moment, was fury mingled with melancholy.

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THE FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTH SATURDAY Slipping on the black and purple jersey; other kids have white tees on underneath: Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, but not da Warren Boyz. “Old-school” mom says. The zebra blows his whistle, let the games begin. Running up the court, still full of the early wind, an inbound opportunity, coming fast, caught, stopped, and dropped: two points. Backpedaling hard, scanning left to right. Coach’s hoarse voice in my head, “Let nothing and no one get between #51 and the basket. Defend your house.” A fleeting glimpse of the families in the peripheral. My brother Denny I see over there, in the stands with that beam he calls a smile, talking to countless strangers-his gift; I feel his laughter but re-engage in my hardwood reality. Twenty minutes later, still in battle, the increasing red numbers shifting time. I jump to a squared and symmetrical glass wall, dominating my man, snatching the prize down, throwing an iron elbow: A sixth rebound. Kids are shouting, sneaker soles are screeching, parents are cheering, and youthful sweat is flowing. Gramma and Grandpa are watching, the only ones 4 P.M. COUNT

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in the crowd without iPhones in their hands. Fourth quarter underway: my face red, lungs burning. Driving, dropping my shoulder, elevating, Snap, the sound the net makes. Fourteen points. Backpedaling again, fast, hard, pointing to Denny, that one is for you. A red jersey streaks in a blur to my right; Changing my course, coach drilling into me: Confront the problem, find the ball. Shoulder to chest, his black and white Nike Airs shoot up and come parallel to the ground, the ball finds its way into my hands, his back hits hardwood, the parents collectively gasp, the buzzer sounds, the game is finished. I wonder what my dad would think if he could see us now. Another triple-double, another notch in the belt, another win; Denny, another new friend. We don’t even remember him ever being at home, he’s been locked up for so long now. Denny and I are done for the day-da Warren Boyz; the never-still ones with no dad but plenty of whispers and looks and questions with no answers. What we do have is each other; Denny and Chris, Chris and Denny. Turning twelve and eleven this winter, more birthdays he will miss, add them to the list, he’s been gone for a dime, a decade, forever and a half. Five hundred and five Saturdays. 50

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Sick of this, sick of it all: of visiting rooms, khaki uniforms, and vending machine food. Photos and phone calls, a prison dad we have; Don’t know the man that is my father, But we wish he was driving us home right now, or to Subway, or to church, to anywhere, we wouldn’t care where.

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DONALD DUCK The first lie I remember telling is that “Donald Duck did it.” It was my standard go-to lie as a youngster. When the vase got broken, or the door was left open, or the toilet flooded: “Donald Duck did it.” When my sisters’ jewelry went missing: “Donald Duck did it.” Later, when homework wasn’t done on time, “Donald Duck did it” was no longer effective. Hence, my lying adapted as I grew older. I learned how to lie to not offend. I learned how to lie to maintain social situations in peace. I learned how to lie to make teachers happy and get my parents off my back. I learned how to live out lies to make them true. I learned the different types of lies: falsehoods, exaggerations, minimizations, omissions, philosophical fallacies, false framing, and insertion of doubt. I learned how to lie to get girls to like me. I learned how to lie on paper, in the air, in my body movements, in my smiles. Town and Country Credit was founded in the nineties by a Dutch South African who was naturalized as an American citizen. I was in middle school in Sacramento-go Cavaliers! Town and Country Credit spawned Ameriquest Mortgage, Long Beach Mortgage, Argent Mortgage. The imitators came: Countrywide Mortgage, New Century Mortgage, Option One Mortgage. Then came 2008. A freight train called a financial collapse came into the station of inevitability. Citibank would come to own Argent and their stock free-fell to three bucks a share. Washington Mutual purchased Long Beach and they would go bankrupt, seized by the taxpayers. Bank of America bought Countrywide, and had to go beg salvation from the Oracle of Omaha. Ameriquest: dead on the side of the road, a carcass rotting from the inside out. Their South African founder had long left and taken a sweet gig as an ambassador, but ended up dying overseas far away from the carnage. 52

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Foreclosures imitated a virus and exponentially multiplied, liquidity evaporated like water in the desert sun, and unemployment rose like a North Korean rocket. America in 2009: bleeding, hurting, reeling, and mad as hell. Back in 2001, Ameriquest Mortgage taught me how to master the lie through the medium of the telephone. My first day on the job, my desk ominously had scissors, tape, and white-out inside the lockable drawer. Three tools that ought never be in a loan officer’s desk. I was given a phone and a list of home owners. Abruptly told: “Get to work.” I can still remember my thoughts, all those years ago: Huh? What? Get to work doing what? Why am I wearing these ridiculous clothes in this ridiculous office tower? To cold call? The only answer: “Yes.” Ninety days in and I had very little to show; formal work probation and process to termination began. The guy who got me the work dragged me to “Bada Bing,” the bar across the street. He challenged me to down two margaritas on the spot. I drank three of the sweetest tasting margaritas inside of ten minutes. He said: “You are going to do this by doing something you’ve done your whole life. You are going to lie. You know how to lie, right?” Of course, Donald Duck did it! “No one is going to trust a nineteen-year-old, single, college dropout with their finances bro. NO ONE. Figure it out, kid,” and he split. I remember hearing him as he peeled out in his candy-red 911 turbo, done for the day, back to the golf course view back porch. He had left me with the check; down went the plastic. Feeling mighty fine I walked crookedly back into the office, took the elevator down to the fifth ring, into the pit, with Donald Duck in my pocket, sulfur in my nose, and a loopy smile on my face. Hi nice to meet you. Christopher Warren, I am thirtyseven, married, two kids, a degree in finance and business from USC… let me tell you how I can make you money today. Loan officer of the month. Loan officer of the quarter. Top one percent of the company for three years straight. Hawaii on the company. Vegas with managers. White out. 4 P.M. COUNT

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Tape. Copiers. Lies. Donald Duck. Paychecks. Bars. More lies. Management training. Irvine. Bigger skyscrapers. VP of ops smirking a line to his students: “If an investor finds a bad loan, we package it up, sell it in another asset bulk, and hope it doesn’t get caught that time.” Greed. Money. Ambition. My own company. Loan officers lying for my firm, me lying to the bigger scoundrel back in New York, him lying to the insurers and re-insurers. A soul sold. A hell earned. Sorry 2008. Sorry family. Sorry America. Donald Duck did it.

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JAILHOUSE CONVERSION When the gavel falls, and prison clothes are issued, The cell door shuts, an unknown god sought: Deliver me, please. Jailhouse converts: Are we legit? Are we for real? On the way out does the Bible, Quran, Or Sutras follow us? Is a faith given On the inside valid on the outside? I am an inmate with a number, 175 months in exile; more than some, less than others. I am a jailhouse convert. My indicted crime is fraud. Yet this faith is not, or so I claim. Jailhouse converts: the zeal annoys; The claim causes consternation. ‘Of course he found God’ ‘What a scam, what a sham.’ A friend looking at me through Thick plexiglass with a pay phone receiver in his hands: “So you’re a man of God now?” My doubt a cheap dull blade from plastic And the irony in the words, a lock in a sock. Incarceration is not a monastery. In the latter, humans renouncing The world to draw close to the divine. Following St. Anthony into the Desert. Prison: deviant humans cast away, incapacitated, Punished and surviving together, Drawn close to nothing but waiting for an Out-date or a potter’s grave, 4 P.M. COUNT

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Following the path of the forgotten many. In a monastery is unity in purpose; Incarceration is division: By race, geography, crime status, faith. We are the most segregated population in the United States, And the most honest in that segregation. From that pool of many are those who are searching for something; Maybe divine from above to remove the pain below, Maybe forgiveness for the pile of feces we left behind for others to clean. I search high and low, far and wide, deep and shallow; For how I could have been so wrong, About a life so poorly lived; Attempting to discern how my method (could it be called that?) Left such bloody carnage, such excess disfigurement, Of family, of friendships, of relationships, Disparaging the good name my parents built with the sweat of honest work. A previous agnostic on a good day, an atheist on a bad day; I was in unfamiliar, foreign, and possibly adversarial territory. I rested with the Seventh Day Adventist, argued with the Jehovah Witness, celebrated Mass with the Catholic, experienced the Word with the Protestant, considered fire with the Pentecostal, sang songs with the Methodist, attempted the quasi-rational in Christian Science, abstained with the Puritan, kept silence silent with the Quaker, lamented social injustice with the Baptist, memorized scriptures with the Lutheran, fasted with the Orthodox, 56

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prayed with them all. Didn’t start at a prison camp; Four years in a cell (26,900 hours to be exact). My mind’s eye seeing the loudness of it all still, Drama, violence, and squalls all around. Prayer becomes experiential, requisite; Divine energies literally carrying me through. A four-hour prayer a life boat; the psalms a Kevlar vest. A deluge of books came and went, A myriad too many to list or maybe even remember. Stories of those who came before us, became like hamburger on Wednesday, or tuna on Friday (thank you Rome for that one); Believers like Mandela, Schweitzer, Bonhoeffer, Athanasius, and Basil. Magazines and periodicals, from all of the sects and corners of the faith, flooding the prisons, coming under my cell door. Never-ending rivers of printed ink On recycled pulp, greasing fingers. So I read. And read. All of it. Then more. My search was for truth, the kind with the capital T. Pray. Read. Pray. Read. Pray. Read. Genesis to Revelation. Repeat. Genesis to Revelation. Repeat. Genesis to Revelation. Repeat. For variety: Psalms to Revelation back to Genesis. Repeat. In the SHU: repeat. On the chain: repeat. New facility: repeat. Been at a facility too long: repeat. Pray. Read. Fast. Inmates are some of the best-read people I have ever met; An odd mix of pulp serials, gangland dramas, esoteric physics, 4 P.M. COUNT

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and wide spectrum of theology and philosophy. Never needed glasses until a decade of prison reading; Different prescription strength now in the left and right fuel my journeys. Men and women of God, In and out of metal doors sliding, slamming, “Clear on hallway B-4.” Visitors, pastors, laymen, volunteers, Pink badges, blue badges, radios, and escorts. Chlorine and bleach-cleaned rooms, linoleum with twenty coats of wax, Radios and loudspeakers interrupting the studies, Volunteers and faithful, trying to pierce the suffering; Attempting to save me from myself, to save ourselves from ourselves. Sitting in a study of one of my favorites in county jail, A “Calvary man,” a good volunteer (he used to sneak us jalapenos) asking: “Mr. Cooper, you have been booked into this Jail thirty-four times since I started preaching here. Are you ready to try something new?” “I don’t know,” he says. I pray in the plastic chair, silently, in my Orange suit and pink underwear and torn socks: Is that my fate? As the Calvinist says Am I reprobate? No hope for free will? Quick answers give me pause, Seeking am I not finding? Hearing am I not listening? All my error, all my fault, all my dysfunction, can the anointed one truly be my physician; My healing, make me whole? But what of this God-Man from Nazareth, 58

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Who am I to listen to? Competing voices and books in my head, fighting each other, Arguing for my mind or my heart or my decision or my destiny, as each of them see it. The voices of all those studies, all those books, all those sects, Sound like a symphony, Before the show, tuning their instruments, All out of synch, each doing individual work, A screeching on the chalkboard, grating in eardrums, maddening my mind. And me, there, being asked to name that tune: Is it Bach? Is it Handel? Is it that amazing Russian whose name I butcher? I have no friggin’ idea, I can’t understand a thing above all the racket. Years pass, prison uniforms change, My children grow, my parents age, I fly Con Air in and out of different zip code prisons in the same chains. All the while trying to snatch kernels of truth off the ground, each piece prized and valued, put in my pocket. These are the things that I carry. Things that I cannot unlearn for the sake of ease. Without realizing, a voice coming out of the East speaks, A song steady and unemotional; Showing the ikon of God’s love on a cross, A mercy ever-expanding and glorious, A justice not about equality but centered on love, Faith a gift from on high brought into my heart. Experiencing the supernatural? An impossibility, they have always told me. 4 P.M. COUNT

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A decade in exile dragging me into a realm between material and immaterial; Seeing the lie for what it is; prayer and fasting giving me backbone. The lies they told me, are the lies they surely tell you. But I cannot unsee; I cannot undo experience; I’ve seen the freeing a loved one from multiple sclerosis; The unbinding of a probationary request to the Court for a 265 month sentence; Experienced the dry tinder of my soul during a drought, struck by lightning; a different kind of California wildfire. The faith of the atheist now dissonant with the ornament of a world I have breathed in and experienced. Divine rays warming and encasing my wounded heart, As I talk on the prison phone, Crying with Kacy, reminiscing with Jeff, Missing the funeral of my beloved uncle, another, a close friend. Keeping in mind the correction being received a blessing; Spare the rod, destroy the son. The Eastern wind blows, calling out at the prison gates, the city center, A different wavelength, a special construction, a river of fire, Words from the fathers, truth to my soul, Quieted in prayer, and power for emotion overruled. It’s not about me, But what I do with truth and power and love; With a God revealed, a Christ risen, A Spirit sent, a Church established; Will Truth pursue me past my release date? Will I follow Him past these prison walls? After the three dollar phone calls? Or will I throw Him in a trash can with my Ramen packages, prison promises, and a stained, holey sweat suit …. 60

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SAMANTHA RIDES Samantha rides. She rides a Yamaha R-1 that is heavily modified; With a Power-Commander 3 chip, Tweaked exhaust and suspension, Intake has been upgraded and the body trim cut down, pared, sleek, all black, tinted, and dangerous. She rides over a thousand cubic centimeters Of explosions, combustions, heat, and power. Throwing the five hundred pounds of engineering art to one side, then the other; Pulling up into a perfect wheelie: freedom. Samantha rides. It is not graceful, it is aggressive; The yellow lines with reflector ridges are her friends, guides; guardrails are the outer limits, reminders of the scythe waiting for her. The tachometer teaches her: higher! higher! Stop! Red line! Again! Blue jeans and a black wife beater on -she doesn’t mind calling it thatsun rays lighting up sleeves of ink showing Raphael battling Legion on triceps and forearms; A snake underfoot on a bicep. No hair shows out of the back of the helmet that wraps around her face, the burka of the two-wheeled faith. Samantha rides. Freedom encases her, massages her; The road the tool, the explosions the propellant; 4 P.M. COUNT

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The wheels the sword; the exhaust her drum. Liberty and license; grace and truth; Art at 102 miles an hour, And a heart rate of fifty-three beats per minute. Dispassion. She has no use for social norms; Or decorum, or dreams, or Disney; She rides for Others; The left behind, the forgotten, the way, the cause; Widows, homeless, poor, and oppressed. Samantha rides. She has no use for a boyfriend, or Facebook, or Plenty of Fish, for the men with many words and no soul; or too much gold and no truth. Her gold chain with her cross flies behind her – parallel to the road; Attached to her neck, in the air, barely holding on; How could a normal man ever keep up? What white picket fence? What dog? What dream? Her foot downshifts, she flies past the minivan; The boot ending where the ink on her calf begins; No skulls or spider webs: Madonna on the Rocks. In amazing coloring – she can’t remember the inkman’s name; Just the kickit spot out there in the desert, just past Taos. Next to the adobe church and the smiles and the wrinkles, With fresh bread and a heavenly iced tea at mom’s place two blocks away. Samantha rolls her hand back on the accelerator; Speeding towards unknown destinations with a known cause; 62

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Pulling back with a hand free from nail polish, but The marks of labor raising money for the inmates’ children, placing real steaks into foodbank boxes, bringing prostitutes to violence-free homes, and the mentally ill to treatment centers. Wishing she still had time to get to the foster kids. Samantha rides from a past. Her father gone away in a world of Bars, plexiglass, hurt, and void. Lost when the deuces got hit, And all hell broke lose. A potter’s field gravestone. A sign stands still on the yard: “no warning shots fired.” Samantha rides with God. This heart on fire, flamed by 92 octane; Driven by love, consumed and compelled by mercy received. With a Yamaha R-1 under saddle; Under her grips; dominated by her will, protected by angels. Samantha is no perfected saint; she is a soldier on a warhorse, A Templar forever fleeing from Friday; a centurion of Michael; a guardian of Mary. Healed Redeemed Empowered Victorious Free; Samantha rides.

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Artwork by: David Bern

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Artwork by: David Bern

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Donald Hynes Who would have possibly imagined that Hynes would end up in federal prison, except for some of Hynes’ family, neighbors, high school classmates, and teachers? But, here he is. Hynes thought his childhood was somewhat normal, until he actually read the stories he wrote about his life, but now he thinks, not so much. But on the upside, maybe his childhood psychologist can read his material one day and finally say, “Oh, that’s why,” and forewarn his other patients who have kids that act out like Hynes did. Hynes was told that he would learn a lot about himself as he began to write about his very personal experiences that led up to him becoming the person he has become. It was entirely true, too. Hynes discovered that some of his behavior was not that of what a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or co-worker would necessarily be proud of, in fact, probably the opposite. He was embarrassed that he didn’t notice it all earlier. He could have avoided many headaches. So now, he hopes his missteps can at least become preventative entertainment for anyone who steps behind the scenes and takes a glimpse into the life of a weird boy who grew up, sort of, to become a cop turned convict.

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A SALUTE TO MY FIRST DAY ON JOB TWENTY I graduated from the Detroit Police Academy on a Friday and was ordered to report to my first assignment at the tenth precinct that Monday. I didn’t know where that precinct was, but thanks to my OCD idiosyncrasies, I located and drove past it ten times that weekend, while memorizing a primary, secondary, and thirdary driving route, just to be sure I wouldn’t be late on my first day. That Monday morning, proud but unsure of what to expect, I walked into the tenth. I don’t want to say how long I spent getting ready that morning, but the word metrosexual comes to mind. My uniform and gear were brand new. My shoes, leather, and belt buckle were shinier than my dome would be a few years later. My military-press creases, exactly 32.5 millimeters from my pocket edges were sharp as a razorblade. I had been working out hard all through training. I felt great, but still hoped my appearance was up to par. The first thing I noticed was that the other officers’ uniforms and bodies were in terrible shape. Their equipment looked dirty. Suddenly, all eyes were on me. One of the desk officers looked me over and said, “Rookie, you know you don’t have to be here for two more hours, right?” I said, “Oh, I know. I left home early just in case.” His face contorted into a strange combination of perplexing confusion and disgust. “Just in case, what?” With just two hours, I didn’t know if I had time to tell him all the possible (and extremely likely) scenarios that could have caused me to be late. But I thought I’d give it a try. But just as I started on about the potential massive solar flare, which could have disabled all the electronics in my car, he walked away. He probably needed to use the restroom, but was just too shy to tell me. 4 P.M. COUNT

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So I took a seat in the lobby and eavesdropped on the other officers’ conversations, including the shy one. Now I’m not saying the shy guy was necessarily stupid, but he sounded stupid when he talked. Maybe that’s why he hadn’t thought of all the possible late-making scenarios on his own. Anyhow, an hour and forty-five minutes later, some other rookies came meandering in with the same spiffy uniform and deer-in-the-headlight eyes that I had hours ago. I felt seasoned compared to them. Another one of the desk officers screamed at us and told us to approach the front desk where the sergeant sat. He said, “Rookies, don’t you know that you’re supposed to salute the desk sergeant every time you walk past him?” I was dumbfounded. I’d been there for two hours and never saluted him. No one said anything to me about it. I panicked and immediately saluted. In fact, we all did. The desk sergeant looked at us as if we were crazy and failed to salute back, and then he continued reading his People magazine. How rude was that? Later, during roll call, the other rookies and I stood tall and wrote everything the lieutenant told us about recent criminal activity into our new pocket spiral notebooks. The veterans seemed to half listen to the report, but mostly, they laughed at us. It was a bit discouraging. Afterwards, another sergeant took the rookies aside and told us, “OK, officers. You won’t be teamed up with a training officer today. Actually, you won’t have one until you get into a car. In the meantime, you’ll be paired up in twos and walk a beat in your designated area. I’ll give you a map. Now get out there and walk around. Don’t get killed so you can be back here at precisely 3:45. And above all else don’t lose your radio; it costs $3000.” I was shocked. That’s all he’s gonna tell us? I quickly wrote down everything he said onto my pad, underlining the whole “Don’t get killed” part. But what the heck were we supposed to do on a beat? I didn’t even know Detroit had beat officers. Besides that, since I’m your typical white guy, 68

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I’ve never been able to do much with a beat. Regardless, as my luck would have it, the city had recently resurrected the same beat assignments they used in 1905. I learned later that this new beat thing was more of a short-lived community-relations stunt rather than a crimefighting measure. Anyways, I got paired up with Steve, a tall skinny white kid who couldn’t have weighed more than a buck twenty. Our portable radios were called preps and were the size and weight of a brick. I wondered how anyone could possibly lose one. Before we started our beat walking, we examined some guns that were recently confiscated from bad guys. They were fierce. It seemed like a collection of machine guns and semi-automatic pistols with high capacity ammunition clips. It made me thankful that the department issued each of us officers a shiny chrome-plated 6-shot revolver1, and a glossy nightstick with a high endurance belt clip. Steve and I walked away from the station heading northbound. Ironically, we both wore our leather driving gloves, which proved our awesomeness or that we were rookies. It soon became obvious that no Detroit citizen under ninety-five had ever seen beat cops either. Everyone drove by and laughed at us. We felt helpless. How could we stop a crime or arrest someone if they simply decided to drive away? Anyhow, we soon stumbled upon a small dead dog in the street. A neighbor told us it belonged to old Mr. Jones, and informed us where he lived. We had a strong inclination that we were supposed to do something. Eventually, we located a plastic garbage bag and I reluctantly pushed the dog inside of it with my new boot. We then marched over to Mr. Jones’ house with a dead dog and mixed feelings. Mr. Jones opened the door. Before we introduced ourselves, Steve opened the bag, and after several flies buzzed out, he held out the corpse towards Jones and asked, “Sir, is this your dog?” It went downhill on an oiled-up toboggan from there. 1

The department eventually issued me a nice .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol

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Mr. Jones eyes opened as big as manhole covers, and then he got wobbly and nearly fainted. We had to call for our first ambulance. When we finished this first good deed as police officers, we continued to walk around the neighborhood aimlessly until we heard the radio dispatcher report a possible shooting victim. Steve and I reviewed our map and then ran to the location, arriving within a minute and before the vehicles with officers who knew what they were doing did. We spotted a man lying motionless in the street. His shirt was saturated with blood and there looked to be a large bullet hole in his torso. We strongly suspected he was the person we were looking for. We had a real emergency on our first day. We became legitimate first responders, not just beat walkers. Wanting to sound professional, I took a deep breath, keyed my radio, and told the dispatcher, “This is Livernois Beat Seven, we have a man down who has suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the left lower quadrant of his abdomen.” After a slight pause, the dispatcher responded, “LB 7, do you mean you have some guy who got shot in the belly?” So much for being professional. Anyways, the beat sergeant showed up to our crime scene, helped us with the paperwork, and then rewarded us with a drive back to the precinct to do additional paperwork. Steve and I felt like real police officers as we walked past the desk sergeant and saluted. Once again, he ignored us. It dawned on me that none of the other officers were saluting, and the sergeant never seemed to care one way or the other. So the next time I walked past him, I didn’t even look at him. A moment later, he yelled, “Officer, did you forget something?” “Yes, sir,” I said, as I saluted. So began my dream career that eventually led to my nightmare incarceration and my current state of hopelessness. 70

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THE UN-SHY INTROVERT I’m not the type of guy who labels himself, or others for that matter, because I consider myself to be a dyedin-the-wool “No-Labeler.” But if I had to put a label on myself, to go along with my professional OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) diagnosis, and some other weird stuff, I would admit that the label “introvert” can be added to my resume. An introvert, you might ask. If you’ve read only one of my stories thus far, you might have never guessed introvert. After all, isn’t introvert the definition of shy people? You certainly don’t seem shy, Hynes. I’ve come to learn a lot about introverts over the past few years, and I can tell you that most introverts aren’t really shy at all. However, one hundred percent of shy people are introverts, generally speaking, of course. Me shy? Phooey, I say. I actually love to intrude into other people’s conversations, introduce myself, and selfishly become the center of attention at all times, as well as speak my mind without so much as considering the words that fly out, while hanging out with large groups of strangers in noisy surroundings, as I make blabbering small talk until my mouth chaps, you know, all those things the typical extrovert does. But I only act like an extrovert for a small percentage of my life. During the remaining ninety-seven to ninety-eight percent of the time, I love to be far away from any living person, inside my head, in order to recharge my batteries and think, think, think, especially about things like, why does society believe that something is wrong with introverts, and that we should act like extroverts? They may as well ask us to change our blood type or the size of our feet. Many years ago, though, there came a time when I actually believed that I may have been shy, and that was the time when I became a tad nervous after my brother asked 4 P.M. COUNT

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me to be the best man at his huge wedding. Not any kind of best man, mind you, but the one who was expected to make a funny or memorable speech for an extroverted brother and sister-in-law. Well, I wasn’t nervous the entire time before the wedding. In fact, I really didn’t begin getting non-stop nausea and diarrhea until the last six months or so before the wedding. Nevertheless, I really wanted to make the big crowd laugh during my best man speech. Unfortunately, I failed to remember that I’m only funny to drunk people and close family members who “get” me. Sadly, they scheduled my speech for the reception, before any real drinking began. I hadn’t thought of that earlier. In addition, I also remembered that I violated the first rule in speech making, which was, “know your audience.” Well, being a true introvert, I didn’t know many people to begin with, let alone any of the wedding guests. At the banquet hall that night, the seated crowd gyrated to banging hits from the eighties, as they reflected on love and lifelong commitment. I’m sure they were also stoked about the free food they were eating and the non-stop drinks that were coming their way, as soon as I finished my speech. I could actually feel the positive energy in the atmosphere. Exhilarating is the best word to describe the room that night. At the proper time, they turned off the music and I stood and walked to the podium, adjusted the microphone, and waited for the crowd to give me their undivided attention. A moment later, they did. I could see hundreds of smiles and glistening eyes, as they waited for me, some stranger who looked like the groom, to say something adorable. I think I surprised many of the guests when I began my comedy routine, with an intentionally stoic, if not somber facial expression, and pretended to be sad when I said, “Hello everyone. I’m Don, the brother of Bob, the groom. I wanted to apologize in advance for my speech. I didn’t have much time to prepare. I didn’t even know Bob picked me to be his best man until last night 72

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after work. You see, a year ago, Bob actually asked his friend Jerry to be his best man. But…Jerry got arrested yesterday. So, after two of Bob’s other friends declined to fill in, and… ummm… another friend, according to Bob, didn’t measure up, whatever that meant, Bob chose me. I’d never been happier, and asked Bob, ‘Why did you pick me for this great honor to be your best man?’ He said, ‘Well Don, you and Jerry have the exact same build, so we knew the tuxedo we rented would fit you perfectly.’ When he told me that, tears of joy began to run down my cheeks.” After I delivered that hilarious story, I expected a roar of laughter from the hundreds of guests. Instead, an alarming silence followed. Is it possible that my acting skills were so good, that the crowd didn’t know a great joke when they heard one? C’mon people, there was no Jerry, I was my brother’s first choice for best man, I think. Anyhow, the party atmosphere that filled the room moments earlier dissipated in an instant, like stomach acid does when mixed with Rolaids. It suddenly felt like we were at a funeral. As I scanned the crowd for any type of positive reaction to my great opening lines, I could only see that more than half the crowd seemed angry at Bob, while the remaining people looked like they felt sorry for me. Not exactly the emotions I was going for. Finally, I spotted Mom at one of the front tables. She smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I could read her lips. She whispered, “Good one, Don.” Afterwards, I glanced to my right and noticed that Bob’s face was bright red—and not in a good way. Well, regardless, I knew at that point, the show must go on. I don’t really remember too much of what else I said for the remaining thirty minutes or so. But I plan on watching the video one day when I get out of prison to see if anyone ever laughed at the other alleged jokes that I may or may not have delivered. You’d think that after my little mishap as a best man those many years ago, and the fact that I’m a true introvert, that’d I avoid public speaking altogether after that. Not so. 4 P.M. COUNT

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Yes, I still get nervous and bomb horribly when I speak in public, but rarely do I get nauseous or shy. So until I feel any different, I will continue to speak about things that at least one fellow inmate calls “simply bathroom humor for adult children,” until I finally become truly embarrassed or shy. Until then, I’ll keep writing, speaking and calling myself The Un-Shy Introvert.

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TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH TO MOUNT MARTY STUDENTS My name is Donald Hynes. I don’t normally like to follow a speech by Frank because his writing and presentations are so good. I’d much rather follow Eddie. This is my third year as a student in Dr. Reese’s creative writing class. So far, it’s been a great journey. I wasn’t sure why I originally joined the group, I never really felt inclined to write before, but I’m glad I did. I could tell immediately that Dr. Reese genuinely had a passion for writing, a passion that he successfully imparted to many of his students, including me, and I am thankful for that. He also shared valuable writing craft tips along the way, as well as brought us many guest speakers, some of whom were best-selling authors who discussed their writing experiences as well, which sometimes included the commercial aspects of writing. Somebody’s quote that Dr. Reese often uses is that “writing is not just about show, but also about selfdiscovery.” I didn’t know what that meant the first time I heard it, until Dr. Reese encouraged me to write some stories about when I worked as a police officer. Sure enough, I discovered a lot about myself as I put these stories on paper. Apparently, I had some character flaws, which I never became completely aware of. But thanks to creative writing, I started working on correcting those issues. If I had begun creative writing several years earlier, heck, I probably wouldn’t be in prison today. Dr. Reese once profoundly said, “The only way to write is to write.” That’s why he continually motivates us to dig through our long-lost feelings and memories by giving us anywhere from twenty-six to thirty-three writing prompts at the beginning of each class, and then only several more after that. It’s not hard either, because he gives us close to two minutes per prompt. 4 P.M. COUNT

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But thanks to this mind-expanding practice, I and many others have been on a writing adventure ever since. Think about it, when you’re told that you only have two minutes to write a paper entitled “If I were a door, which way would I swing?” your imagination runs wild. This class taught me the difference between writing styles, and the fact that someone can celebrate and express his or her feelings through poetry, novels, short stories or anything in between. I’m often reminded of a writing tip that Dr. Reese once told us. He said, “Class, listen up. There are three things about writing that you should never ever forget.” Then he paused, I supposed, for dramatic effect, before saying, “Number two.…” Then he looked out the window for a moment, and said, “What were we just talking about?” Okay, all kidding aside, Dr. Reese and this class has given me an opportunity and knowledge that I’ll always be grateful for. In addition, I will now challenge and encourage anyone to put pen to paper and truly discover how creative writing can help people discover their true selves, which may even keep them out of prison. Because creative writing can expand a person’s universe; it really can equal freedom in more ways than one. Thank you.

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STUDENT REFLECTION: FINDING COMMON GROUND By Aimee Huntley, Mount Marty College Student Swapping poetry and prose with inmates in the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, SD on a rainy afternoon in April wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d do. The day I went, flanked by three other female classmates and Dr. Reese, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having been briefed ahead of time about suitable attire, and what was allowed inside, it was only a matter of minutes before we were ID’ed, logged in, and given visitor badges to enter the facility. We were greeted by Mr. Uecker, who works in the camp’s education department, and given a short tour of the grounds. We were shown many classrooms and told about all the various opportunities for education and technical job programs. The floors were immaculately waxed and the buildings well cared for. Bustling men dressed in khaki cotton uniforms and boots trooped through the halls, and I felt a foreigner in my female skin and civilian clothes. Finally, we joined the eighteen men in Dr. Reese’s Creative Writing class. We were seated on navy padded folding chairs, lined up at the back of the room. Shortly after Dr. Reese’s formal introductions, four of the inmates shared heartfelt presentations about why they had chosen to be in his class, and what the experience of writing had done for them. They read their unique works, told stories, shared personal experiences, self-confessed hard earned-advice, and affirmed dreams for the future. The little poem I’d brought felt flimsy and inadequate. Here were these men before us, because of their worst past, revealing their very best present. How could anything I say be relatable, or remotely interesting? I’m a middle-aged 4 P.M. COUNT

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mother, a working-class woman, but yet a writer too… yes, there must surely be a common ground in such an unlikely place. We handed around our rhymes, and essays, fifteen minute prompt bursts, and love songs too. My favorite lines: “I never tell anyone….” “I love u when u wake up & ur hair is on the night stand.” “That one day when….” “Climbing mounds of freshly plowed snow, “White Rhino it was called… so covered in crystals.” “Blurting out anything that came to mind.” “I love how you radiate happiness.” “Some of us love a mystery.” “There are so many facets that they would never tell anyone.” “In between seems like yesterday, and eons ago, depending where my mind was, at the time.” “I love all these things about you, even though you don’t exist.” The conversation was good and questions were exchanged: “Is this your first writing class?” “How do you critique others’ work?” “What do you like to write about?” “What good books would you recommend?” “What do you like about poetry?” “How do the people in the neighborhood feel about living across the street from a prison?” “Why do prisoners get moved to different facilities?” “How long are you allowed to talk on the phone?” “When and where do you write?” The four guys in my group were all relatively new to the camp, and this was their first class with Dr. Reese. All were eager to talk and very engaged in our mission of learning. 78

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One of them shared the very first thing he’d written, another was stuck in his prompts and couldn’t make any progress, a third was planning on self-publishing his book of poetry called Raw and Real. I had things in common with all of them. I too had been stuck, frustrated, confused, elated, enraptured and, at times, horribly bored by the writing process. We all agreed on the benefits of practice, how regular writing even if it’s bad is bound to only get better. We brainstormed ideas for when we get stagnated, and how we could move forward with the work we’d been doing. One of the inmates said, “All we have here is time. I’ve never been so tired as I am now, and I’ve never done less during the day in my whole life.” When we talked about workshopping with classmates and critiquing each other’s writing, they reminded me that the dynamics in prison were different becausethey “lived together all the time here,” while I could have my privacy and autonomy on the outside. They felt they needed to be a little more generous and optimistic in their suggestions for each other. I was struck when two of the original presenters talked about missing the use of their computers, and how it was a huge draw in deciding to take the class. One of them mentioned how much more difficult pen and paper writing was as opposed to using a keyboard. He felt he couldn’t keep up with his thoughts the old fashioned way. I completely related to this. I almost always do my writing on my laptop and only put pen to paper under duress. All too soon our time was up, and amid many thanks and parting encouraging remarks, we made our way back into the outside world. As we travelled back to the college in the car, the girls and I talked about our experiences with our individual groups. All agreed they were very positive, and all were very impressed by the incredible amount of talent the inmates possessed. We realized that we may have been the only source of novelty for them that week. A break from the monotonously leaden passing of time. Perhaps they were a break for us too, helping us to remember to be grateful for all the gifts our freedom gives us every single day. To remember all the things we take for granted. 4 P.M. COUNT

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STUDENT REFLECTION: VISITING FPC YANKTON By Hannah Buchholz, Mount Marty College Student While I have been to the Yankton Federal Prison Camp before, this is the first time I was able to visit a class taught there, the Creative Writing class. It was a new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. One of the things that struck me about the situation is how unique it is, as far as most prisons are concerned. There is a strange juxtaposition of two sets of factors: classrooms, education, and the freedom to learn, and the containment, control, and limitation of a prison. It was hard for me to adjust at first, with the inmates, teachers, and education staff behaving nearly the same as any person you would encounter “outside,” and some of the corrections officers behaving like they were having to guard maximum security prisoners. Getting settled into the classroom evened out the dynamic, though, and listening to the inmates present some of their writing along with a welcome speech helped even more. When we got into small groups and workshopped each other’s pieces, I got so much out of it, and I felt like they did, too. I was able to fix a plot hole in my story that no one else had noticed before. I also appreciated the opportunity to read some of their work, and I was very impressed by it. I would definitely welcome another opportunity to visit one of the classes there again.

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STUDENT REFLECTION: OUR COLLEGE CLASS GOES TO PRISON By McKenna Cooley, Mount Marty College Student We’ve spent a lot of time in this class talking about a variety of topics, including mass incarceration. I didn’t really want to dive into this topic, as well as the follow-up one, prison reforms, until I was able to go to the prison we have here in Yankton. There are approximately 2.2 million Americans behind bars, who make up twenty-five percent of the world’s intimates. Seventy million Americans have some sort of criminal record; that’s almost one in three (White House). That is an outrageous number considering that one of the goals of our country is to be the “land of the free.” How can we be promoting freedom, when so many in our population are locked up? Ninety-five percent of people currently in prisons or jails are going to get released at some point, whether it’s in the next few days or a few years (Bureau of Justice). Do we want those people to just sit around using up our tax dollars in those cells or do we want them to be trying to better themselves? Before I decided to go to Mount Marty, my mom and I came up for a visit. We went driving around the town, not looking for any place in particular, just looking. As we were driving we came across the Yankton Federal Prison Camp. I didn’t think anything of it, being the naive one. My dad, however, had reservations when we told him about it; he didn’t want to send his daughter up to a town that had a prison right in the center of it. Eventually he came around to the idea that it was a secure place and that I would be fine. 4 P.M. COUNT

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Dr. Reese invited all of us in his Writing and Publishing class to come down to the prison for the day and see and interact with the class he teaches there. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the prison. I figured that it would be something like Dr. Reese’s other writing classes that I had taken, but that was it. I didn’t feel nervous about going to the prison; prisoners don’t really scare me because I see them as people. We have quite a few prisoners who come out to the archery center in town and do all the heavy lifting and set-up so we don’t have to. They all have been super nice and I have gotten to know a few of them really well, so I felt like if that was the majority of the population at the prison, then I would be just fine. When we first got there, we got a brief tour of the education building, which is really awesome. They have so many classes and opportunities for work training there I was really impressed. They have a lot of great opportunities for the inmates to get the skills they need to survive the real world when they come out. They even have a few of the service dog training courses I’ve heard about at other prisons, which have been shown to help focus and calm inmates by giving them a temporary companion and a job at the same time. The opportunities that the Yankton facility offers are truly amazing, not only for the inmates but for people in the town as well. The inmates who come out to the center aren’t just there to work; we communicate with them, and they get to learn about time management and organizing workers and jobs. They get to be out in the world experiencing things, not just locked up with the key thrown away. All the guys that I met at the prison seemed like nice people; obviously some have been in the system for a long time and know that what they did was wrong. They know that they have to change in order for this to not happen again for them. I think various classes help facilitate that. They make those men think about what they did and what they can do now in order to make their lives better. One of the main reasons that people come back to 82

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prison is because they just don’t have the means and the knowledge in order to change their situation. If they are stealing food because they don’t have a job, that’s not going to change unless they can get help to get a job. I think that’s really where education comes into play. Educating inmates opens doors for them. They are no longer a high school dropout, and now they have a GED and some college classes under their belt. They are more likely to get considered for jobs. Inmates who increase their skills are less likely to reoffend. I really feel like this needs to be taken more seriously in larger prisons around the country. One hears about a few here and there, but they are so limited in their resources, unlike here. I think that other prisons or correctional facilities need to look at Yankton as an example. By having these programs I believe that we can lower the recidivism rate. Works Cited Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Reentry Trends in the U.S.” https://www.bjs.gov/content/reentry/reentry.cfm Office of the Press Secretary. “FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Business Pledge.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ the-pressoffice/2016/04/11/fact-sheet-white-house-launches-fairchance-business-pledge

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Artwork by: David Bern

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Artwork by: William Biloff

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Artwork by: William Biloff

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Artwork by: Michael Davis

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Marquise Bowie Marquise Bowie is a proud member of the body of Christ; a Christian. He is the father of two wonderful girls Marquissa and Marquia. Minneapolis, MN is where he was born and raised. He has been in the creative writing class at Yankton for four years and loves writing and reading, especially African American history. He did a piece on the origin of Black History Month and shared from a booklet called “Black Chronicles” about the trials and tribulations of African Americans in America dating back to the 1600s with the class. He’s also working on his memoir titled Blood In Blood Out about his life as a former Blood gang member who was saved and transformed from the inside out by the amazing grace and blood of Jesus Christ.

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ACTIONS Imagine if I recited poetry like Shakespeare, and gave life changing speeches like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or moved crowds with my singing like Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley, but didn’t talk to my children with love and compassion like a father should. My voice would be as useless as when a little boy cried wolf, or a dog howled at fire trucks. What if I could figure out difficult math equations like the great Albert Einstein, put together computers like Steve Jobs, or find a cure for cancer like the greatest doctor never discovered, but didn’t spend quality time bonding with my family and loved ones? My attempts at a healthy relationship with them would be as futile as an architect building a stormproof house using a deck of cards. If I donated tons of food to third world countries, gave pints of my blood to blood bank centers around the world, or gave my organs and tissues as a tool for scientific study to help others live, but didn’t give my best efforts in helping my children, family, friends and loved ones to reach their full potential, then I’d be doing no more than giving a tooth to the tooth fairy or putting a penny in the collection plate at church. Pure actions are serving, listening, and helping; and unconditional love is an action. True actions give and expect nothing in return; they are not braggadocios, they are not self-centered, they are not controlling, and they are not for profit. Love does not like to see others fail, but rejoices when they succeed. It always encourages, motivates, and goes the extra mile and stands in the gap for the next person because words alone won’t do the job. Where there is talent, it could be taken for granted or wasted. Where there is intelligence, Alzheimer’s could rob the memory bank. Where there are material possessions, it 4 P.M. COUNT

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could lose its value. When I was a delinquent I thought and talked as a delinquent; I walked and moved as delinquents do; I lied, stole, and cheated as delinquents did; as I got older, I matured and put childish ways to rest. If only I knew then what I know now, I’d still know only half of the whole picture. Even though I may not be where I want to be in life right now, I’m further along and not where I once was, and for that I’m humbled and thankful. At first I had tunnel vision and could see only what was in my immediate eyesight, but now I see light at the end of the tunnel. The character of a person to me is this: What would one do if nobody was watching? There is a fine line that makes all the difference. Three things carry heavy weight in life; words, intentions, and actions, and the greatest of these are actions. As we all know: actions speak louder than words!

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THE VERDICT Since jury selection was incredibly strenuous and exhausting, I could only imagine what the next phase of my trial would be like. The scene played out like a reality TV show mixed with the Twilight Zone. The courtroom was packed to capacity like a Beyoncé or Adele concert full of young tweens; camera crews, and local media were everywhere. I could swear that I saw a CNN news reporter posted up on the back room wall like a thumbtack. I must say, it seemed that my character was more on trial than I was. It may sound crazy, but the prosecutor, or should I say, the team of prosecutors, charged me for everything I had ever done. They really did their homework and dug deep. Their due diligence even discovered the cookies I stole as a four-year old and the time when I released that silent killer fart in church without saying “Excuse me.” They considered adultery to be one of my most serious offenses, even though I was single. Being a male gigolo wasn’t a crime, was it? In addition, they concluded that I was a dishonest, cheating liar who stole precious time from my loved ones and friends. The prosecutor approached the bench with his first piece of evidence. He wore a devilish grin and held a big box. He said, “Your Honor, I’d like the jury to look at government exhibit A.” Afterwards, he pulled out a projector and advised the deputy to dim the lights before telling the jury, “Everyone, please enjoy the show.” The first scene was me as a crying baby. The narration, done by the prosecutor in the most menacing voice, explained that what I was doing was criminal. He said my crying was only faked to get attention. How could I defend against that accusation? But then again, I was a baby and I was probably crying for a legitimate reason. For the next forty-five minutes or so, the video played 4 P.M. COUNT

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one humiliating scene after another. These scenes from my past showed everything from me stealing candy, lying, peeing in a swimming pool, to digging the crust from between my toes and smelling it, to being selfishly selfcentered, to flinging boogers. Some of the behaviors I had actually remembered, the rest had been long forgotten. “Child’s play,” I mumbled to myself, nothing deserving of either the death penalty or the life sentence that the prosecution was asking for. Suddenly, a video clip from many moons ago jumped onto the screen. It stood out from the other ones. It was me as a teen with a tape recorder and a fake microphone. The prosecutor then told the jury, “Listen closely, because this is when his criminal behavior took a turn for the worse.” The tape recorder I held began playing what sounded like someone being beaten to a bloody pulp, but it was only me trying to sing an old Biz Markie rap song. As I sat in the courtroom, I dropped my head in defeat, as my voice screeched the chorus. “Oh baby, you got what I need, but you say he’s just a friend, you say he’s’ just a friend.” It sounded like dogs howling in the distance. My lawyer jumped to his feet, “Objection, Your Honor. This video is irrelevant.” The judge quickly said, “Objection overruled,” which allowed the prosecutor to continue his character assassination. My lawyer was saddened by my body language and begged the court to turn off the video. The judge finally caved in and ordered the temporary ending of the video, just before everyone in the courtroom, even my supporters, began laughing, clapping, and thanking the judge for sparing their ears from the torture. I again shook my head, acknowledging my beatdown. My charge of impersonating a musician in the first degree carried a lifetime of humiliation. My lawyer whispered to me, “What do you want me to do? Do you want to fight or not?” I said, “I was only thirteen when I did those things,” 92

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which really wasn’t a legal defense, by the way. I was guilty as charged. After the prosecutor’s shocking allegations and video presentation, he rested his case for the time being. It was now my lawyer’s turn to defend me. But all he could say was, “We do not wish to defend against the charges, Your Honor.” Now I’m thinking, “What type of defensive strategy was this? Is this a public defender or a public pretender? And where is Johnnie Cochran when you need him?” I had no idea that I actually had the best lawyer that blood money could buy. Not only that, but my guy was the judge’s beloved son. Without my lawyer spending any time defending me, the prosecution started right where they left off earlier. I was hoping they were finished, but it now seemed like they had just started. The main attraction was once again being played on the cinema’s big screen, and once again there I was, a wild teen running the streets. By then, I had started drinking, was involved with gang fights and shoot-outs, was skipping school, and was selling drugs, not to mention running afoul of the law and being disobedient to my mother and elders. These crimes were considered the worst of the worst. There was no way I could refute the charges either; they were being played out in High Definition right before everyone’s eyes. I looked toward my lawyer with the expression that said, “What do we do now?” At that point panic began to fill me to the core. He put his hand on my shoulder and assured me that everything would be all right. I looked into his eyes, and for some reason, I trusted him, and began to feel at ease, which was something I hadn’t felt too often, especially in a courtroom setting, and Lord knows that I’d seen plenty of those. Most of my other similar experiences ended with me being found guilty of one thing or another, regardless of evidence or lack thereof. Add in being an African American male in the “white man’s system” only put another negative asterisk by my status. I heard all the accusations of wrongdoing I’ve ever 4 P.M. COUNT

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committed throughout my life, saw the bad report cards and heard testimony from old teachers, former basketball teammates, rival gang members and their families hurt by things I was a part of, and saw the innocent victims from the neighborhood I ran amok in, like those who had to hide for shelter with their children when gunfire was raining bullets. These were people I didn’t intend to hurt or even knew that I affected. Ex-friends, and women I had cheated on or manipulated alike, even my own relatives all testified how selfish I was towards them. I was convinced that I was guilty on all counts, because I was, though back in the day, I usually had some lame excuse handy, in case I had to do any explaining. After all, I was a product of my environment, wasn’t I? So there was no way that the jury would turn a blind eye to the mounting evidence brought forth. Looking back, I see now how I occasionally believed that I had no choice but to act the way I did. For instance, in the heat of battle I wasn’t going to make sure that innocent bystanders were clear from my target before I would shoot; if I did that then the “bad guys” would get away, I’d shoot first then deal with the unknowns later. Sometimes I told myself I wouldn’t have eaten if I hadn’t stolen that ice-cream sandwich and bike, which was probably exaggerated. With my life and freedom flashing before my eyes I could now see that these things were wrong then and they have always been wrong; I was just caught up in the moment of the street life and living by its codes of conduct. As I was pondering the mess I had made for myself and sank into deep thought, the prosecutor rested his case, certain that the jury would believe that I was nothing but a dirtbag. But to add even more drama to the event and put more venom into the minds of the jury, he slapped the table with an open fist that made everybody jump and with a booming voice said, “That man right there is guilty on all charges” while pointing his Arsenio Hall long finger in my direction. After seeing all of his evidence, memories started to take over my mind. I even felt as dirty as he made me look. It 94

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was now me against the world. It didn’t help that my lawyer failed to object more than once, or cross-examine any of the prosecution’s witnesses. At this point my lawyer seemed useless when he decided not to present any evidence in my favor or bring any witnesses to testify on my behalf. Not even my mom, whom I assumed would have had nothing but great things to say about her only child. After all, I was the runt of her only litter. He simply said, “Your Honor, the defense rests its case.” Then he asked the judge the most curious thing. He said, “Your Honor, after the jury leaves the room to deliberate, would you allow me and the prosecutor to meet in your chambers?” The judge gave the jury some instructions and then sent them to their room. Afterwards, he invited the prosecutor and my lawyer into his private office located behind the Judge’s bench and curtain. During the strange meeting, I was left alone at the defense table while everyone stared at me, mean-mugged and whispered among themselves, wondering what was going on. I was a nervous wreck. There was an urge for me to just jump up and run for it and hold court in the streets whenever they caught up with me, because I could only imagine one verdict resulting from this bogus trial. GUILTY! I felt like Gilligan without the Skipper on a deserted island or Robin without Batman, as useless as a wet foodstamp at a high stakes crap game, wondering what would become of my life and that of my daughter’s future without me. About ten minutes later, the judge, my lawyer and the prosecutor re-entered the courtroom. My lawyer silently sat next to me, his face radiating with hope, and patted me on the back. Just then, the bailiff said, “Your Honor, the jury has reached a verdict.” Immediately, the crowd began to buzz again with a flurry of whispers, head shaking, and finger pointing. The judge ordered the jury to return to their courtroom seats. This must have been the fastest deliberation in the history of crimes as serious as mine. The judge slammed his gavel and 4 P.M. COUNT

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called for silence. The head juror handed the bailiff a piece of paper, which he then handed to the judge. The judge glanced at the sheet and then asked, “Do all twelve jurors agree on the verdict I hold in my hands?” In unison, the jury said, “Yes we do, Your honor.” The judge then slammed the gavel three times, and with the most authoritative voice I’ve ever heard in my life, said, “In the case of The World vs. Marquise Laguan Bowie, the jury finds the defendant GUILTY of all charges.” The people at the prosecutors’ table began to celebrate, as they high-fived each other and hugged. The crowd became noisy; the usual business proceeded to take place in the United States courthouse. Suddenly, the judge surprised everyone when he yelled, “Please take your seats; I have an important announcement to make.” I was now more confused than ever and I had no idea what to expect. The judge continued, “Mr. Bowie’s lawyer is a special, oneof-a- kind person who has the ability to bear the burden of a defendant’s punishment, should he decide to. In Mr. Bowie’s case, his lawyer has decided to allow me to place Mr. Bowie’s sentence of punishment upon himself, therefore trading places with Mr. Bowie and receiving the death penalty, while allowing Mr. Bowie to become a free man with no worries of pending or future charges.” The judge then looked at me, as I trembled in my tears of confusion and joy, and said, “Mr. Bowie, the reason you are a free man is because of the pardon papers prepared by your lawyer that state, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:16-19).’” 96

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You see my friends, the entire world stands guilty of breaking God’s perfect law and standards and this is a fact, because all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. In addition, because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of the world, all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have been set free from condemnation and from the grip of being a slave to sin. Although the world will look at believers as though they are guilty, through God’s eyes of love, we are innocent. The relationship that the judge had with my “lawyer” was a special bond, something indescribable. My lawyer was Jesus in disguise. He pardoned me, with amazing grace. Praise the Lord.

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A REFLECTION ON BLACK HISTORY Being incarcerated is a hard pill to swallow, but even harder is being in the manmade prisons that we create for ourselves. After getting over the initial shock of being sentenced to one hundred and seventy-five months for a drug conspiracy charge in the federal system I could do one of two things. I could A) become bitter and enraged and take my frustrations out on everybody else and play the blame game, which would help nobody and only make my time even worse and longer. Or I could B) look at the man in the mirror and figure out why and how I ended up in this situation in the first place and make the necessary changes that need to be made in order to be the man that God created me to be. I chose plan B because it made the most sense, plus part of plan A landed me in prison in the first place. At my first prison in Sandstone, Minnesota I started reading books looking for an escape. I also started journaling my prayers, daily devotions, thoughts, and frustrations to God while also staying busy programming. The healing process had begun. Sadly, a lot of the people in prison only care about the outside muscles and neglect the most important muscles like the mind and heart. I have nothing against working out or exercise, but working out all day isn’t going to keep anybody out of prison. Being in the creative writing class has helped me heal and mature. It has also given me a better understanding of life in general. Listening to and learning from people of different colors, different backgrounds, different social statuses and different faiths and upbringings showed me more of how as human beings we all have more commonalities than differences. Two years ago, I really challenged myself on reading material and started reading African American history. I 98

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was intrigued to learn how black people have continued to overcome time and time again against all odds, and it inspired me to share more of myself in my attempt to overcome in my own situation. Then last year Dr. Jane Wood paid the creative writing class a visit and gave a brief lesson on black history. She mentioned some black authors like Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker and Malcolm X. I was moved by this white woman’s knowledge of black history and it gave me more of a hunger for African American history because I had recently started reading about some of these incredible people. This also led me to some African American pioneers like Jack Johnson, who became the first African American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title in 1908. John Mercer Langston, the first black man to become a lawyer when he passed the bar in Ohio in 1854, also the great-uncle of Langston Hughes, famed poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Thurgood Marshall, the first African American ever appointed to the U.S Supreme Court, who was elected by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served on the court from 1967 to 1991. Eminent Scientist George Washington Carver, who developed 300 derivative products from peanuts, among them cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils and cosmetics. And self–made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker, who was born a slave on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and became wealthy after inventing a line of African American hair care products. She established Madam C.J. Walker laboratories and was known for her philanthropy. This is just to name a few. Black history has been celebrated for over one hundred years by the NAACP and now throughout the world. Black history to me is more than a month of celebrating for just African Americans in general. It is about American history and the achievements of a people that were considered “beasts,” “servants,” or one-third humans and inferior to the white race. It’s about fixing a great injustice, and recognizing an American tragedy for a people that have fought hard and 4 P.M. COUNT

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have overcome to be on a level playing field for equality, freedom, and the American dream. This is of importance to me and should be of importance to every American who represents the red, white, and the blue; the land of the free and the home of the brave, and all who pledge their allegiance to the flag and national anthem. Only after all races, creeds, and colors come together in unity and respect for the greater good of all mankind, then and only then can we truly consider America great.

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Michael P. Murphy What makes up the physical and mental character of Michael Patrick Murphy? He is a wellseasoned individual (sixtynine years of age) who loves challenges and the adventure that accompanies them. Michael has openly admitted to being an adrenaline junkie who has to make sure that his intestinal fortitude does not override his safety and quest for longevity. After all, he has a beautiful wife and family are waiting patiently for his return and spending his remaining years with them. Being able to tell many stories relating to past adventures is one of his gifts, the gift of gab. Now, instead of telling these stories orally he would like to develop a talent of writing them down. Putting the delivery of these tales into a new format can be quite trying at times. Development of this skill is coming along slowly, but at least at a steady pace. The Creative Writing course funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and taught by Dr. Reese is instrumental in developing this desired skill. This new dimension of communication will vicariously transform his soul, out from within an imposed box of containment, to the living, breathing and caring world of reality.

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EXCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY

I am surrounded by giant trees in a west coast redwood forest, watching night turn into dawn. Not worried about the possibility of a legendary Bigfoot or Sasquatch lurking in the mist. I am at home, at peace, where I yearn to be. I gaze upward into the towering redwoods. They are over a thousand years old. The evergreen scent of the cool damp morning air energizes my soul and spirit. I hear the muffled sounds of nocturnal wildlife. Slowly sneaking away to their places of hiding for the day. Soft green mosses and feathery ferns carpet the forest floor around me. Spongy and silent underfoot as I move towards a resting place. Coastal fog obscures the towering treetops, easily hidden in the vastness of gray space above. As the soft breezes that accompany the dawn meander through the treetops. They stir up the fog and rays of sunshine start to penetrate through the surrendering overcast. The redwood behemoths of the forest are waking up and showing signs of life. Branches are beginning to dance and stir to the rhythm of the wind. Swaying against the background of a developing blue sky. A new day is being born. Nature yawns and awakens with the magical opening of flowers. Blooming white clovers, yellow azaleas, and purple irises inject color onto the green forest floor. Deer are coming out of their hiding places. Silently stepping through the thick undergrowth, one 102

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careful, ballet-like step at a time. Blending into the vegetation, not wanting to be noticed. Cautiously bobbing and swinging their heads as they examine their surroundings. Squirrels scurry up and down the trees. Chattering loudly, defending their territory. A covey of quail scurries about an open area, momma quail leading the way. The little ones filing along close behind her. The baby quail looking no bigger than unshelled peanuts with half-inch legs. Their legs moving so fast they appear as a blur in the low light of the morning. Yellow spotted salamanders cautiously explore the edges of small rivulets. Their tongues darting out and testing the air, searching for a clue of what may be nearby. Birds call out and sing from the heights of the treetops. Blue jays appear perched on limbs. Twisting their crested head eyeing me for a morsel or tidbit to fly down and steal. Red-tailed hawks soar effortlessly above the forest canopy. Riding the warm updrafts generated by the rising sun. My turn to sit back against an old redwood guardian of the forest and take it all in. Looking up past the 300-foot tall trees, into the endless expanse of now blue sky. I throw a kiss skyward. Up and past the shadows of the swaying branches and into the open air. I appreciate the beauty and tranquility of my chosen resting place. I love what is before me. Life is wonderful.

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FIRE A dry and dusty courtyard appears in the dull light of the oncoming dawn. Sounds of steel doors slamming and shuffling of feet start to fill the air. This small town is waking up and coming to life. The smell of breakfast cooking permeates the heavy, still morning air. A solitary soul is being escorted into the courtyard by armed guards. Hands tightly bound to a belt girdling the captive man’s waist. A flock of scavenging chickens quickly scatters, running in all directions. In the distance, marching men with their uniform cadence of footsteps are rapidly approaching. The captive man is quickly tied to a six-foot tall wooden post in front of a solid rock wall. A mangy dog slinks through the courtyard. Quickly the squad of marching uniformed men, rifles slung over their shoulders, enters the courtyard. One of the men has a small drum hanging by his side. The mongrel dog flees for cover, head down, tail tucked between its legs. Off to the right of the six-man squad is their commander. Intensely focused on their keeping in step and obeying his orders to the letter. He raises a long shiny saber above his head and prepares to shout out their next move. The commander sweeps the saber towards the ground, loudly ordering the squad to halt. He now commands a left face and the rifle-bearing troops pivot. Now they all face the man lashed to the post. Seemingly, out of nowhere, a drumroll starts in the first rays of sunlight. Stirring a pair of black, crook necked and bald-headed 104

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buzzards. Lazily perched on the bare limbs of a nearby oak tree. With a loud squawk, they leap into the air, hurriedly flapping their wings and taking flight. Shaking the overnight dust from their once idle feathers. Escaping the mysterious commotion below. Their dark shadowy forms soaring effortlessly in the warm rising air. The restrained man is not blindfolded. He raises his chin, squinting his eyes against the bright rising sun. A sudden cold gust of wind kicks up a cloud of billowing dust. The taste and smell of airborne dirt fills the doomed man’s senses. Collecting in his already parched throat and half-closed eyes. Quickly the dust passes and the air again becomes still. The condemned man swallows. Then gazes into each set of staring eyes soberly cast upon him. Wondering what goes through their minds at such a time as this. He closes his eyes, blocking out the reality of what is before him. Slowly opening his eyes, he sees that the nightmare is still there. He now accepts his fate. Pulling himself to attention with head up, shoulders back. Bravely facing what are now just silhouettes of men, shadowed by the emerging sun behind them. Hoping for mercy from this determined party is a waste of time, Remaining time now measured in mere seconds. Over the sounds of his labored breath and pounding heart. He hears the commander yell the words ready, aim, then after a short pause, fire. The doomed man can see fire belch out of the long dark barrels aimed at him. He never hears the report of the rifles. The bullets reach him faster than the sound. Fire, the last thing that is heard and seen, by the now limp and lifeless soul.

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SCARED INTO DEATH Southeast Asia 1970. On patrol, deep in the dark green tropical jungle of eastern Laos. With my dog Fritz, a German shepherd trained for tracking. We are on a special mission searching for a downed U.S. Air Force pilot. Aircrews routinely bail out from their damaged aircraft over Laos. Trying to make it safely back to their bases in friendly Thailand. After bombing or reconnaissance missions flown over North Vietnam or Laos. Missions that involve dodging enemy fighters, anti-aircraft guns, and surface-to-air missiles. Infamous SAM’s, big as a telephone poles and supersonic. Occasionally our regular rescue helicopters and pararescuemen cannot find these aircrew members. The rescue helicopter cannot spend too much time looking around. Can only risk so much, they are big, noisy, and slow, sitting ducks to enemy fire. This is when we are called in to help locate the lost soul. I’m in the U.S. Air Force and teamed up with the U.S. Army’s Green Berets. We are rapidly deployed by helicopter from a base in neighboring Thailand. As we arrive in the drop zone, our helicopter skims the ground at ten to fifteen miles an hour. Have to keep moving, cannot hover, slapping rotors during a hover gives away our drop-off area. Thirty seconds of frantic leaping and we are all on the ground. We watch the helicopter disappear in the distance. I gather Fritz and myself together. Taking a deep breath of hot and humid tropical air to steady my nerves. Time to go to work and start searching for our lost pilot. 106

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I patrol the area in front of the seven-man squad of U.S. Army Special Forces. Two hundred yards ahead of the squad, letting Fritz do his job, undistracted. For the first hour, the day is calm and uneventful. However, I can never get complacent; we are deep in enemy territory. We crisscross and recon the region, trying to pick up the pilot’s trail. Suddenly Fritz goes on alert. Pulling hard on the leash, then he freezes. Not a friendly alert, something up ahead disturbs him. Luckily, we are downwind, Fritz able to pick up the scent. I radio the trailing squad and we all take cover. I head for the left side of the narrow valley. There the thick undergrowth has many shady spots, ideal to keep Fritz and me out of sight. Fritz lies down in the thick grass next to me. I unsnap my Smith and Wesson .38, holstered on my right hip. Then I select full auto on my modified M-16. This weapon has a shorter barrel and a telescopic stock, a compact but still deadly weapon. It drapes around my neck and hangs by my side, above my waist and out of the way. Not swinging around and hitting Fritz. I set myself up in a defensive position and wait, prepared for whatever might come our way. Wearing camouflaged fatigues and face paint, blending me into the shadows like part of the landscape. Five minutes go by and nothing happens. Have to stay put, can’t get antsy. Patience is the word for the moment. Then movement, the jungle comes to life. A three-man enemy patrol appears, entering the grassy area fifty yards to my left. A small scouting party wearing khaki uniforms and sporting olive-drab web gear. Fully equipped enemy troops, calmly walking through the knee4 P.M. COUNT

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high grass. Probably stalking the area for the same Air Force pilot we are trying to find. Seemingly without a care in the world. Three to one odds against Fritz and me. The seven-man squad behind me is no doubt already set up to ambush the intruders. Ready to take care of business. For now, I just have to let these wanderers pass by me. They will shortly stroll into a deathtrap two hundred yards away. Meanwhile, I need to keep myself hidden and still. Suddenly the enemy patrol starts to turn towards my hiding spot. Behind me is a small stream of water, trickling out of a limestone outcropping. These guys are unsnapping their canteens and heading for this spring. Their AK-47s limply slung over their shoulders. They will pass close to Fritz and me. I am scared to death. With several missions into Laos under my belt, this is my first close encounter with the enemy. Face to face with what could deal me a death blow. I have trained for this scenario, now the real thing, right in front of me. What will I have to do? My heart starts to pound deep up into my throat; I just want them to go away. Let someone else handle this. The closest man passes within ten feet of me. He casually glances down and in my direction. I tell myself, hang in there Murph, and don’t even blink. As the man and I make eye contact, his eyes suddenly widen. My trigger finger instantly reflexes and pulls back all the way, my weapon comes to life. Spewing death and destruction into the once peaceful surroundings. Loudly delivering a barrage of copper-jacketed bullets into the enemy troops. 108

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Not only being scared to death, I’m scared into death. A thirty-round magazine on full auto, at point-blank range. A lethal surprise for those three men simply looking for a cool drink of water. Three lives extinguished in less than five seconds. A few months later, I celebrate my birthday. On this special day the only thing I blew out were the candles.

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Artwork by: Timothy Edwards

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Artwork by: Timothy Edwards

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Artwork by: Ray Igleheart

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Artwork by: Russell Livengod

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Mr. Anstett Mr. Anstett is currently incarcerated at Federal Prison Camp Yankton.

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TRYING TO ATTRACT A SIGNIFICANT OTHER Other than our children the greatest achievement is my life’s journey with my wife. Now this is not to be taken lightly, as I have spent almost forty of my sixty-two years on this earth with her many personalities rolled into one human form. And what a form, short and expensive. My best friend, the only person who really knows me. And as the years have gone by I have discovered she at times knows who I am better than I do. She is a far better version of what I will ever be. When I first started to date her, I soon realized we had more in common than I experienced with a lot of the other women I knew. There was that something she had that others did not. Even the times when she has to make her point. She always seems to know instinctively what buttons to press with me, and that makes me realize I am in love with my “soul mate” as society likes to call two people matched up in unison. Such a rich and happy (for the most part) life we have shared together. The good and bad. The terrific and the tragic. Life’s victories and defeats. Whether laughing or arguing, our love is something more precious than anything. Love is something I have to work at passionately if I want it to succeed. All the places we have gone, things we have done together, with and without our children, have always been adventures. Our best time together still is when we lie in bed together intertwined. She loves her feet rubbed. Quiet time or not, there is something that always seems to flow between us. How could I be so fortunate to have attracted myself to her? Even as bad as this prison thing is, the day I went for sentencing she walked with me into the courtroom, holding my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Relax, we will get through and past this.” And it all seems to happen in a blink of the eye. Thirty4 P.M. COUNT

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seven years this year. I ask God for forgiveness every day with my time away from her while I am here, and ask Him to be sure that what we have built between us is not lost when I return to be with my best friend. We’ve had good years and bad years; the last couple leading up to my sentencing were not particularly good. Real and true love is almost impossible to find, much less to continue with the same person. Love is something that needs to be cultivated like the gardens around our house. It takes many years; some years bear more fruit than others, if we’re lucky and the gods deem it an eternity.

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WHEN HAVE I USED MY VOICE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? When have I used my voice to make a difference? I have for the most part in my life tried to be or make a difference with people the best I can. The Golden Rule. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. However, I always try my best to help. Not too long ago into my prison experience, a former cellmate I had was going through a very rough patch. He was in his mid-thirties, a short-timer for a drug case. His wife had divorce papers filed on him a couple of months after his time started, and of course this threw him into an absolute tizzy. He has a young son whom he thinks the world of, but when he first came to prison he never spoke of any issues leading up to this time. So naturally, once he got his divorce papers this was all he thought and spoke of. Constantly. Every. God. Damn. Day. We talked about it when we were in our eighty square feet of living space. I would go out and walk the track and he would join me to discuss this. The ins and outs of his life and relationship with this woman. The “woman of his dreams,” he told me. The mother of their child. He had pictures of her along with his son, and believe me, as I said to him many times, if she is that stupid to leave him, she would never, ever, ever end up with someone that looked like he does. Further, based on how he presented himself to me and the other guys, she would never find a more loving man. And the more he told me about all of this, I thought a lot of this makes no sense; the timelines and such of the events as presented in his divorce papers seemed off. I told him my belief that what I was being told indicated she was planning this for a long time, and once you went to prison 4 P.M. COUNT

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she sprung this on him. He told me that was impossible, that she would never do that. I said, “You’re not thinking clearly and you’re not seeing what you have explained to us all.” When someone is hit upside the head like he was by this entire situation, most people cannot make sense out of things because there is just too much to process, and one is alone in many ways during incarceration. I had met his sister in the visiting room a couple of times when I had visits; he of course introduced his sister to my wife and me. I suggested to him to have his sister be his detective on the outside to help try to figure out some of the things he was accused of by his wife. Well, it turned out she was quite the gumshoe. I suggested a couple of things to stall the divorce proceedings until he got out. That worked. There were times when he drove me nuts with this, but I understood and was happy to be his ear. Then his time was up and he was released. I remember walking him out, and when he left I was very choked up as I realized I had made more of a connection than I thought. After about eight months I received a letter from this person, a “how are you doing” and how things were going in his life. His divorce was almost finalized, the judge had granted joint custody of their son, and he found out that indeed his wife was seeing someone months before his sentence started and she indeed hoped to get everything from him and take his son away as well. Then in the letter he said how much all the time we spent together really meant to him, how I was listening to him even though there were many times he was out of it with anger, sadness and the fear of being helpless. It was my reassuring him that got him through what he considered a worse time in his life than his indictment. He is doing very well now; he has his son in the school that he felt was best for him and his now ex-wife’s relationship with the man she left him for fell apart, in his words, “in spectacular fashion.”

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Vasudeva Clayton Vasudeva Clayton lives in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Honolulu, HI and spent the better part of his life moving from state to state. As a child he spent time in India practicing Hinduism. He is a musician by profession and lifelong vegetarian. He has one daughter who is his life and soul. Summer of 2018 finds him near the end of a five-year sentence and ready to return to California. He intends to reinstate his music studio and expand his vegetarian food vending business.

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INNER TURMOIL More than a subtle feeling bounding and playing in my mind. A bodily assault on a delicate form. A bitter wave thicker than liquid that seizes and holds me under. I breathe in its heavy content and suffocate beneath a murky surface. A vague safety which I can no longer feel and have entirely forgotten. In this hopeless despair is a crushing hand that will not release my screaming heart. There is a hateful creature clawing at my undefended soul. A blade flung loose from a furious machine savagely lacerates my inner self. It shakes my body as it spins and cuts unable to pierce my skin and escape. Thus it remains inside to inflict its violent damage.

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LORDS OF THE CORN We walked out from the school house and met in the front courtyard. The old beaten down house had belonged to a family long gone from these rural backwoods. A dirt path meandered up the forested hill to a dirt road that had no name. We and our teacher lived down here together, away from our parents. No television, no comforts of home. Solitude and struggle were meant to develop us into strong and worthy men. There were twelve of us living there at the time. We were a wild bunch. We had finished our daily schooling and cleaning duties and it was our time to do as we pleased. And what pleased us was to have a battle. The twelve of us divided ourselves into two armies of six kids. We were an unequal collection of sizes, strengths and speeds, but we were all equal in the naĂŻve and boundless vitality of youth. At ten years of age I was more of a medium-small size, all knees and elbows. But I was smart, brave and not afraid to be on the front lines. Some of the boys were more familiar with others and gravitated towards one of the two groups that were forming. Once the armies were split, we began to walk toward the battlefield. They took their positions on the farthest end of the field and we assembled on the opposite end, which was closer to the schoolhouse. Trees lined one side and a shallow creek ran along the other. This tract of land lay snug in a valley between two rolling tree-covered foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The autumn trees were golden, red and vivid orange. Multi-colored leaves fell from the surrounding branches. Summer was gone but winter had not yet arrived. The large field was arranged in tidy rows. The corn had been cut down months ago. What remained were scattered leaves, old ears of corn, and other cornfield debris; all rainsoaked, then sun-dried. Rows of foot-long cornstalks were still connected to roots in the ground. When these stalks 4 P.M. COUNT

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were pulled out they came up with their roots stuck to a ball of dirt. We often played games of war and fixated on chivalry. Most of the stories we grew up hearing were of great kings, mighty princes and battles fought by powerful warriors. Now we six were a heroic dynasty and across the battlefield, twenty feet away, stood our enemies who were villains and needed to be destroyed. A young voice called out “One, two, and three, go!” The cornstalk battle had begun. We all bent over and pulled our weapons from the earth and hurled them towards the opposing warriors. Never mind that these missiles we threw were heavy and dangerous with dirt, small rocks and sharp cornstalks attached to them. Some threw four-foot-long stalks that lay there detached and sun hardened; they flew through the air like Trojan spears. With quick glimpses, in between launching our weapons, we looked up to see if we were going to be clobbered with the clubs and spears flying through the air. I threw with all of my might, hoping that I had struck one of the enemies; I didn’t want to really hurt any of them though I did want to see a direct hit. The sight of cornstalk, soil and earthworms splattering on one of them somehow brought joy to my young warrior heart. We imagined the sky blotted out with powerful weapons, flying back and forth, creating a deadly shadow above. I heard shouts and encouraging words for my brothers in arms. I paused and pulled the best of all of the cornstalks from the ground. This Astra—an ancient physical weapon empowered by sound vibration, would sail forward and end this battle once and for all. I prepared to hurl it when I heard multiple voices shout, “Watch out!” Now, when someone yells “Watch Out!” my normal first response is to look for the danger which needs to be watched out for. Perhaps a better warning in that instance should have been “Don’t look up!” But, I looked up. A spear struck me directly in the right eye. No chance to dodge or move, only enough time to blink. Stunned into 122

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calmness, I stood there momentarily. All of the other kids were motionless in a similarly astonished pose, and then they dropped all that was in their hands and ran towards me. I tilted my head toward the ground and the spear point fell out of the thin skin that held it. Like a wounded soldier I bravely felt at my injury to assess the damage. I pulled my hand away from my eye and my fingers were covered in blood. I felt a little sick but I also felt really tough. I was boy become a man; until I began to scream and cry like a newborn baby. No recent playground activity ever heard a boy wail as I did. There was pain, but more dramatically, I believed that I was crippled, a one-eyed Willie. I was going to have to wear a pirate’s patch for the rest of my life, cursed to stumble through my days in half light and half dark. Friendly hands guided me quickly to the edge of the creek. They helped me to wash my eye clean of blood. Miraculously, instead of skewering my eyeball to leave me forever blinded, the sharp end of the corn shaft had pierced the inside corner of my eye near the bridge of my nose. It wasn’t as bad as we all thought. I had gotten lucky. The fear lessened, the shameful tears stopped flowing and my toughness gradually returned. I blinked the creek water from my eye and slowly my blurry vision cleared. I could see the faces staring back at me. They were no longer faces of allies and rivals. They were faces full of concern and care; they were boys who were my friends. I took my shirt off and bundled it to hold against my eye. I would need to walk up the dirt path to the dirt road with no name and find help. But I wouldn’t be alone. Arm in arm we returned from war and we triumphed on the day’s events. Together we walked back to the schoolhouse.

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Artwork by: Luke Lowe

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Artwork by: Richard Reisbeck

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Artwork by: Richard Reisbeck

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Artwork by: Brandon Schuknecht

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Mr. Desai Mr. Desai has always had a thing for science. He’s worked for science museums and planetariums and founded a creative design agency to develop content for them. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering from one of the nation’s top 10 engineering schools, though he’ll play that down. “In college I spent most of my time reading design books and magazines. I wasn’t meant to be an engineer.” But then darkness took over his thoughts like a drop of ink in a glass of water. He’s spent the last seven years seeking clarity.

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HANDMADE I’m looking at my father’s hands in the visiting room. The hand that changed my diaper, the hand that spoon-fed me, the hand that caught the baseball every day after school, the hand that slapped me when I hit my sister, the hand that signed the checks for me to go to school, the hand that learned to text when I wouldn’t call, the hand that wiped away tears after letting go of his son, the hand that was raised when called to testify, the hand on the plexiglas, the other on the phone. The hand that just wants to touch his son one more time.

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A RIP OF STATIC It was as hot and humid as morning breath. Under the shade of a strip mall awning in front of a boarded up Blockbuster video stood an old man. His eyeglasses beginning to lighten up. The creepy look of transition lenses. He dressed in the dark-his socks: one blue, the other black. His fingernails a crescent of dirty grey from scratching lottery tickets. Everything he touched felt waxy. When he shook his head, it sounded like the ricochet of a metal mixing ball in a spray paint can. He edged up closer to the bare plywood on the windows. Behind the plywood he could see the yellow curls of a sun-bleached poster. He could make out the words ango chained. Through a crack in the plywood he could see the stacks of old VHS tapes that were once for sale. The dust so thick it looked like spray-on insulation. He recognized the names of some of the movies. Porky’s Revenge. Faces of Death. Airplane. He stepped back and opened his mouth. A rip of static. Ssssssssssst. Ssssssssssst. Spray painting the plywood in all caps: “READ A BOOK.”

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Allen Eskens, visiting author Allen Eskens is the bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, The Deep Dark Descending, and The Shadows We Hide (released 11/13/2018). He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award (Left Coast Crime), Silver Falchion Award, and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award, and Audie Award. His books have been translated into twenty-one languages and his novel, The Life We Bury is in development for a feature film. Allen has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from Hamline University. After law school, he studied creative writing in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University-Mankato, as well as the Loft Literary Center and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Allen grew up on the hills of central Missouri. He now lives with his wife, Joely, in greater Minnesota where he recently retired after practicing criminal law for twenty-five years. Allen is represented by Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron and Associates Literary Agency. Photo by Daniel Dinsmore.

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A LETTER FROM ALLEN ESKENS To Dr. Reese and the students of his class at FPC Yankton, I wanted to write and tell you all what a gratifying experience I had visiting you in April. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my visit, but I came away very impressed with your program and your enthusiasm for the craft of writing. Our discussion was lively and wide-ranging, full of insightful questions and curiosity. As I mentioned during my visit, I came to my passion for writing later in life, playing around with it at first, but then taking it seriously and studying the craft at every opportunity. I didn’t publish my first novel until I was in my fifties, and I continue to learn with each new offering. I guess my point is that it’s never too late to pursue a passion. If writing is something that brings you happiness, then set a course on understanding the intricacies of the art form. When I was struggling between my desire to be a writer and my self-doubt, I stumbled upon a quote from Rainier Maria Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet. It was a quote that convinced me to take this pursuit seriously—I would like to pass it on to you. “You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you-no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask 132

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yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.” In closing, I wish to express again my appreciation for inviting me into your class and I hope I was of some help. Best of luck to you all. Allen Eskens

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Daryl Farmer, visiting author Daryl Farmer is the author of two books: Bicycling beyond the Divide, a nonfiction travel narrative, and Where We Land, a collection of short fictional stories. His recent work has appeared in The Whitefish Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Gingerbread House. He lives in Fairbanks, AK where he is an associate professor at the University of

Alaska-Fairbanks. Photo by Todd Paris.

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A LETTER FROM DARYL FARMER Dear FPC Yankton Writers, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet with you, share some of my work, and discuss writing and the writing process with you all last February. And I was happy to receive the letters you wrote to me afterwards. Can I confess something? I came to this visit with trepidation. I imagined a room full of scowling, angry men in orange jumpsuits, leaning back in their chairs, arms folded, scowls on their faces, ready to pounce. I imagined riots, and shanks, and in-my-face threats. For some reason, probably because of a movie I saw once a long time ago, I imagined hiding under a cafeteria table while the room exploded into a chaotic food fight. (Sigh). Sometimes, friends, my fiction writer’s imagination gets away from me. I think now of these preconceived and misguided ideas with no small amount of embarrassment, for what I experienced was so opposite of what I had feared, making those fears seem what they were: foolish. If I walked into that room a fool, I walked out less so, and for that I’m most grateful. I talk to a lot of groups: I visit high schools, present community workshops, visit college campuses, teach graduate and undergraduate classes at the university where I work. There is something powerful about words, about language, about being in a room full of people sharing stories, and I feel honored to be able to be a part of this ongoing discussion. What surprised me about you all, and shouldn’t have (fool that I am), was the level of engagement, the quality of questions, the deep and genuine interest in writing and the writing process, and in reading good books. I want you to know that you more than hold your own against any of those other groups. This has all been borne out as I read through your 4 P.M. COUNT

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letters, and the journal 4 P.M. Count. The work in the journal is thoughtful, funny, intelligent, honest (brutally so, in some cases), heartfelt, and ultimately moving. It has been a reminder to me about the importance of telling stories, writing poems, re-examining the experiences we’ve had. It’s cliché’, but writing does heal, I think. These are some of the best reasons to write. I sometimes worry too much about publishing, impressing critics, winning awards: all the worst reasons to write. I appreciate this reminder. I just finished reading a book called Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson. (Highly recommended). It’s not a new book, and I’d read some of the stories before, but had never read through the whole thing until this week. Despite the title, it’s not a particularly religious book. It’s a collection of stories, all told from the same first person narrator. This narrator is brilliantly observant about the world around him, all while struggling with his own demons: drug-addiction, failed relationships, grief, car accidents. People get shot, overdose on heroin. I say it’s not a religious book, but maybe it is in a way. Despite everything, the narrator finds redemption, not in overcoming it all, but in relating it, telling us the stories, grasping at a kind of wisdom throughout. Here’s one of my favorite sections, from a story called “Happy Hour”: “I was in Pig Alley. It was directly on the harbor, built out over the waters on a rickety pier, with floors of carpeted plywood and a Formica bar. The cigarette smoke looked unearthly. The sun lowered itself through the roof of clouds, ignited the sea, and filled the big picture window with molten light, so that we did our dealing and dreaming in a brilliant fog. People entering the bars on First Avenue gave up their bodies. Then only the demons inhabiting us could be seen. Souls who had wronged each other were brought together here. The rapist met his victim, the jilted child discovered its mother. But nothing could be healed, the mirror was a knife dividing everything from itself, tears of false fellowship dripped on the bar. And what are you going to do to me now? With what, exactly, would you expect to frighten me?” (p. 101). 136

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I realized after reading this book, that it’s all about this narrator’s own spiritual journey, thus the title. It occurs to me that this is what every story is, what every life is. Redemption here is not about overcoming obstacles, but about living through them, reflecting on them, always moving forward. No matter the tragedies, or sins, or inner demons, a spirit always shines through. The more I think about it, this might be one of the most religious books I’ve read. For whatever reason, our journeys lead us where we are, sometimes a result of our own making, sometimes just a damned fate that has no logic. Probably, for all of us, it’s some combination of these. You may think I’m talking about you all, but I’m not, at least not only. Even the life of a college professor comes with its own trappings, its own repercussions. “And for all our violations,” writes the poet Eavan Boland, “the past waits for us.” She is not writing about prison; rather, she is writing about her grandmother, dying in a maternity hospital, a past two generations before she was born, and yet she is still affected by it. I don’t know what all this means, except that I’m very happy that our lives crossed in Yankton that sunny cold South Dakota day last February. If I could offer any advice, it would be to read, read, read. I was glad to see a well-stocked library at FPC. I hope it continues to grow, and that you take advantage of it. Every book is a life all its own, and through them we can live many. Again, thanks for the letters. I wish I could answer them all individually. I’ve read through them a couple times, now. It’s very gratifying to hear that you all maybe learned something from my visit. Please know you weren’t the only ones. And thanks to Jim Reese, (described by one of you as your “all around badass bro professor”) for inviting me. I wish you all the best. Keep writing! Respectfully, Daryl Farmer

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Neil Harrison, visiting author Neil Harrison’s poetry publications include a chapbook, Story (Logan House Press, 1995 & 1996), and the collections: In a River of Wind (Bridge Burner’s Publishing, 2000), Into the River Canyon at Dusk (Lone Willow Press, 2005), Back in the Animal Kingdom (Pinyon Publishing, 2011), and Where the Waters Take You (Pinyon Publishing, 2018). His fiction has appeared in various journals, most recently in Pinyon Review. He formerly coordinated the Visiting Writers Series and taught English and Creative Writing at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska, where he presently resides with his third wild, wooly, and often wet drahthaar, the Happy Dog. Photo by Jim Reese.

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A LETTER FROM NEIL HARRISON To Dr. Reese’s class: Thank you all for welcoming me into your classroom in Yankton. I much appreciated your letters, and I’m glad that you found our time together there productive. Several of you noted how the ideas we discussed in class offered some insights into elements of the writing process. That’s the great value of being in a classroom or a workshop where you have the opportunity to discuss and share with others the various aspects of creating written works. For the most part writing is a lonely enterprise. We sit alone at a computer, or with a pen and paper, attempting to create a unique written work from memory or imagination or some combination of the two. And yet there’s no way to know how successful we’ve been at translating our ideas into words that actually communicate our thoughts and feelings to another until someone offers a response. And the more readers or listeners we can find to respond, the better we can know how successful we’ve been. A classroom like the one you have there, with a dozen or more writers, can help point out for each of you the strong points in your work, as well as any areas that might need work. Such feedback is a necessary tool for any writer, and a writing class can be an invaluable resource. So I hope that all of you there take full advantage of the responses to your work that your classmates and your instructor offer. Some of you asked about books I might recommend, and I think I mentioned a couple of poets that influenced me early on, William Kloefkorn and David Lee. I think you might find some of their works on the bookshelf there, or ask Dr. Reese to share some of their work with you. Another excellent poet is Harry Humes, a Pennsylvania 4 P.M. COUNT

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poet and son of a coal miner. His poems are all basically short stories. Some years back he removed the line breaks from his poem, “The Cough,” entered it in The Best American Short Short Stories contest, and won, suggesting that perhaps the only real difference between poems and stories is the length of the lines. For those of you interested in fiction, I think the short stories of Raymond Carver are still considered some of the best. I’ve often recommended his story “Cathedral.” It’s about a blind man, and it opened my eyes to just how powerful a story can be. Check it out. As for non-fiction, I recommend the works of Loren Eiseley. Any of his books are excellent for opening the mind to the mystery of our being here on planet Earth. If you’d like an introduction, check online for his story, “The Bird and the Machine.” It’s just one of Eiseley’s many stories that seem capable of making the human spirit soar no matter how low it has fallen. These are all writers whose works deeply affected me when I read them, and I sincerely hope that you all get a chance to read and be so affected by them. Thanks again for the welcome and for your letters. And thanks to Dr. Reese for the invitation. Neil Harrison

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S. Marielle Frigge, visiting author Marielle Frigge, OSB, holds an MA in biblical theology from Washington Theological Union and a PhD in theology and education from Boston College. She retired as professor of religious studies after 33 years at Mount Marty College in Yankton in May 2012. Since then she continues to teach and speak in various venues, including her own and other religious communities, the Avera Health System, and various local and regional communities and ecumenical adult education contexts. Sr. Marielle authored Beginning Biblical Studies (Anselm Academic, 2009) and a second, revised edition of her book was published in September 2013. Sr. Marielle also writes biblical commentaries for Liturgy Training Publications in Chicago, and serves as associate editor and book reviewer for The American Benedictine Review, a national scholarly journal dealing with topics of Benedictine and monastic interest.

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A LETTER FROM S. MARIELLE FRIGGE WHAT I SEE AS BENEFITS OF ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS FOR MEMBERS OF THE WRITING CLASS There are several major benefits I see in having individual tutoring sessions with a copy editor in the process of finishing pieces to be published in 4 P.M. Count. The first is a chance to meet the specific needs of each person. The educational background of the men in the class includes a broad spectrum, from those who have a GED to some who hold graduate degrees. So my guidance can be suited to each one’s needs, ranging from clarifying meanings of three different words that sound the same, e.g., there, their, and they’re, to discussing tone or word choice for the writer’s intended audience. When I explain the why of a particular grammatical “rule,” a writer will often say something like, “Well, I saw that rule on the style sheet, but I didn’t know why it was that way.” Once the why becomes clear, a writer often quickly begins to see for himself where further corrections are needed. I always emphasize the practical importance of an ability to use standard English; a recent study indicates that fifty-eight percent of employers immediately discard a job application or resume that fails to do so. There are also benefits, I believe, that can carry over into the men’s personal lives. I repeatedly stress “audience awareness,” the writer’s ability to analyze, understand, and put oneself in the reader’s cultural, intellectual, and emotional context. Such awareness ought to guide any writer’s choice of content and how that content can be most effectively presented to the designated audience. For example, if one is writing a piece for the general public, prison slang or acronyms are not likely to be understood. Always, the fundamental purpose is communication; 142

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writing is not only about “expressing myself,” though that is part of the purpose. Good writing always truly communicates to an “other.” The writer who consciously attempts to communicate to a specific audience must take his particular audience into account when choosing content, point of view, voice, tone, and vocabulary. Regarding audience awareness, one of the men remarked, “It’s good to practice thinking about ‘the other’; not doing that is one of the big reasons I am where I am.” In addition, any good writer who wishes to communicate clearly must be consistent in all details, including use of capitalization, abbreviations, acronyms, numbers, time references, etc. Learning consistency can be an advantage in personal relations as well as in the workplace. There is another benefit not directly related to writing skill, but, I believe, a very important one. Tutoring sessions offer an opportunity for each prisoner to be treated like an individual human being, a person. I know from their writings that in their highly routinized and regulated life in a federal prison, some can begin to identify as simply “a prisoner” or the number on their clothing. One man asked me during a tutoring session, “Why do you do this? After all, we’re criminals.” I responded, “That is true, you must have committed a crime, or you wouldn’t be here. But I believe you are more than that: you are a human being, a person, created in the image of God. How will you learn to act like a person without being treated as one?”

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Artwork by: Brandon Schuknecht

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Artwork by: Danny Simila

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Artwork by: Danny Simila

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Artwork by: Clark Sloan

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Ryan Fagan Ryan is 37 and was born and raised in Cody, WY. He spent most of his free time growing up in the back country on a horse. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and just being out in the wild country that Wyoming has to offer. He currently has one daughter who is in North Dakota. He was working in the North Dakota oilfields prior to his incarceration and that is where he calls home today. In North Dakota he spends most of his time with his daughter, being out on the lake fishing, and enjoying his family.

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GRIZZLY BEAR One early summer night as my mother was about to put dinner on the table for me, my brother, and my dad, the phone rang, and I answered, “Hello?” The person on the other end said, “This is Curt Bales. Is the game warden in?” I looked outside at the horse corrals and saw my dad out there. As usual he was wearing his gray felt cowboy hat, blue Wrangler pants, and a red Wyoming Game and Fish shirt. He was not a big man --five feet nine inches – but muscular with black hair and a black mustache. I yelled out the door that he had a phone call. He came inside and told me he would take it in his office, which was routine. We began to eat without my dad, which was nothing new. Being a game warden has its seasons where it can be very demanding. Hunting season is one of them. Come hunting season, a game warden is constantly on the clock, never home, and the phone rings all day and night, with someone reporting something dead or saying they saw someone shoot something. Some of it is real and valuable stuff for a game warden, but some is just a waste of time. The other reason that the job is demanding is late spring through summer. It all starts when the grizzly bears come out of hibernation and are out looking for food. Grizzlies will eat anything and will do anything to get food. They will eat anything from dead animals on the side of the road to moths and grubs under rocks to people’s trash in barrels outside. The problem comes when they go into camps in the back country and become “nuisance bears,” as they are called. They have been known to tear down tents if they smell food and scare the life out of people. Another big problem that bears get themselves into is breaking into cabins and getting into everything and destroying the interior of the cabins for nothing but maybe some canned goods, flour, and sugar. Grizzlies are also very territorial; 4 P.M. COUNT

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when they find a meal somewhere they remember where they got it and will always return. They also remember the behavior that got them that meal. As my dad came and sat down at the table, he said, “Ry, want to go to work with me tomorrow? Got another bear problem on the Majo Ranch.” He knew that he never had to ask me if I wanted to go. It was more of statement: get ready because we have another bear problem. We left the house the following morning around 5:30 a.m. When we arrived in Cody we went to the game and fish shop as we were passing through town. We hooked up to the culvert bear trap with the truck. This trap is just a big piece of culvert pipe on tires with grates on both ends and one of the grates slides up and down and is used for the door. This is the same trap that we had been using for many years and had caught many bears with. We went inside the shop and my dad said, “Load everything we will need and grab a couple extra boxes of twelve gauge slugs. I will be in my office; I have a few phone calls to make. I need to get hold of Chris Queen and Mark Brucino.” Chris Queen and Mark Brucino are the two game wardens who run the large carnivore division for the state of Wyoming. I went into the back shop area and grabbed the box that looked like a tackle box but contained the equipment needed to put together a dart to sedate a bear. I opened the box to make sure everything was inside. In the bottom of the box were some instant ice packs that we would need to keep the bear cool while it was sedated. Additionally there were twenty to thirty regular syringes and a whole box of needles that attach to the syringe used to measure and transfer the sedative from the bottles to the darts. There were enough pieces to make up at least twenty darts. The pieces consist of three parts: a barrel, a flag, and a sharp needle. The barrel that looks like a small piece of pipe is as big around as a writing pen, with threads on the inside on both ends. Bright orange and red flags are just strings of cotton attached to a piece of metal with threads on it so 150

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they can be screwed onto one end of a barrel. These are for visibility so that one could tell if a dart hit the bear or not. An inch and a half long sharp needle with a barb on the end of it screws onto the other end of the barrel. This is everything needed to make up the darts. There was a refrigerator in the shop, used to store sedatives and many other kinds of drugs for wildlife. I went to the refrigerator and got two bottles of the sedative and put it in a little cooler, then got some ice packs out of the freezer and put them on the bottles. After that I grabbed the tranquilizer gun which was nothing more than a twentytwo caliber rifle with an oversized barrel on it in order to fit the diameter of the sedative dart. It takes a powder charge in a twenty-two caliber to shoot the dart out of this gun. I put the cooler, dart box, and tranquilizer gun in the truck. I went back into the shop and grabbed the other bag that contained the other equipment we would need. I opened it up and made sure everything was in there. Inside the big bag was a little bag containing a device that looked like pliers but inside of the jaws were needles that could be adjusted to whatever number was assigned to the bear. There was also a bottle of ink as well, and this was used to tattoo the inside of the bear’s lip. I zipped up the little bag and set it off to the side. Also inside the big bag was a large ring of silver ear tags that were individualized, each with its own number. There was a crimping tool as well for crimping the tag through the ear. The large bag also held a scale with a long piece of rope tied to the end of it to weigh the bear, and a soft tape measure to take measurements of the bear. I put everything back into the big bag and put this all in the big box in the back of the truck. I went into the back room of the shop where the firearm supplies were kept and grabbed a couple boxes of twelve gauge slugs and put them into the cab of the truck. As I went back into the shop area I took a good look around to be sure I didn’t forget anything, because we would be a long way from the shop or from town for that matter. I went into my dad’s office as he was hanging up the phone, and 4 P.M. COUNT

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he told me to grab that other twelve gauge shotgun in the corner and put it in the truck. He said it was better to have too much than not enough. I knew exactly what he meant because we had been down this road many times. Sometimes things don’t go as we would hope. There are a few things that could happen that make this a very dangerous situation. We could have a sow bear in the trap and she could have one or two yearling cubs right there with her as well. That is a very bad situation. At that point all we can do is try to dart and tranquilize the cubs outside the trap from our truck and hope that we get them right away. The cubs on the outside wouldn’t let us near them or the trap. The bear we have in the trap would be getting more and more pissed by the moment, slamming into the ends of the trap and rocking the whole trap in doing so. The heat could also be fighting us as well because we can’t let a bear in the trap get too hot, because that could potentially kill the bear. The next problem is if a bear goes into the trap and triggers the door but it fails and the trap door is still open, it could still be in the trap or very near the trap just inside the woods or anywhere close for that matter. As I mentioned earlier, bears never forget where they got a meal and stay close to where they have found or can get food. Those are the two potentially most dangerous situations that we hope don’t happen as we are trying to trap a bear. I grabbed the other shotgun and we walked out of the office towards the truck. My dad said he got hold of Chris and Mark and they were going to meet us at the cabin that was broken into later in the day. I put the shotgun right between us in the truck. As my dad got in the truck he was asking me if I had gotten everything. I told him that I got everything he had asked for and the same stuff that we get every time we go to do something like this. I guess one could say that I was well trained to do this, for even at thirteen years of age I had been doing this for over five years now. Even over the five years and the numerous bears we had trapped over the years, two things that I do know is that 152

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I don’t know what will happen and to prepare myself for any possible situation. As we pulled out of the game and fish parking lot we headed for the grocery store in Cody. We went into the grocery store and loaded up on groceries, mostly steaks, potatoes, vegetables, cookies, cake, and water that we would need for the next couple of days for four people. We loaded all the cold goods into a cooler with some ice and put the remaining bags in the big tool box in the back of the truck. We got in the truck and drove all the way through Cody and started heading up what is called the South Fork, because it is the southern fork of the Shoshone River. The South Fork is also my dad’s area. This is the area that he patrols not only in his truck but on horseback trails where no vehicles can be used. The Game and Fish Department has a little cabin at the end of the South Fork where we stay when we are up there. It is just a little cabin with four walls and a stove that we can build a fire in and cook on; it even has an oven on the side. There is no electricity or running water, but there is a little creek that runs in front of the cabin. It takes us almost two hours to get there from Cody. When we arrived at the cabin we unboarded all the doors and windows that were up to keep bears out of it. We then unloaded all the food and bagged it in some panniers and ran it up the meat pole by a rope. In this country it is the law to either have all food items in a bear-proof box ten feet up in a tree or locked up in a building. (Not only is it the law, but it’s a really good idea to keep the grizzlies from invading as well.) After we got everything situated there we headed over to the Majo Ranch which is just down the road from the cabin. When we got to the main driveway we saw two other dark green Game and Fish trucks; it was Mark and Chris. We made a plan with them to head into the cabin that the bear had broken into. When we all got close to the cabin we stopped. We were in a big, wide-open, flat meadow with green 4 P.M. COUNT

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grass with a little cabin on the edge of the trees. The cabin used to be Buffalo Bill’s hunting lodge many years ago. We looked with binoculars to see if we could spot a bear hanging around close by. There was nothing visible so we went ahead and pulled our trucks through the meadow but still a little way from the cabin. We loaded the shotguns’ first two slugs, then buckshot, then a rubber slug. Of course we were all packing forty- five caliber pistols on our hips but they wouldn’t do much good against a 500+ pound grizzly bear. We got out of our trucks, being as quiet as possible; all of us scanned every direction looking for any signs of life. My heart was pounding and I was starting to sweat; my nerves were bouncing all over the place and I didn’t know what was out there, if anything. We were each carrying a twelve gauge shotgun for safety because that is the only thing that can stop an attacking grizzly. We slowly made our way up to the cabin and looked in the windows to be sure there was not a bear inside just waiting for us. There was not a bear inside the cabin but the inside was a wreck. It looked like a grizzly had ripped the front door off its hinges, gone inside and gotten into everything it could find. We got the camera and started to take pictures of the inside and all the damage to the cabin. There were very deep gouges all over the main frame of the door from its claws when it was trying to get the door open. The inside was complete disaster: flour all over and footprints from the flour all over the floors, the counters, all over the place. All the cupboard doors were ripped completely off. The dining room table was turned on its side and pushed up against the wall. The bear had found some cans of soda and bitten into every single one, along with all the canned goods in the cupboards. From the looks of it, if anything had any scent of food, the bear bit into it whether it liked it or not; it didn’t care. We kept two guys out there with the shotguns as we took pictures in case the bear wandered back to the cabin. When we were done taking pictures we went outside and 154

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looked for a good place to set the trap. We set the trap directly in the middle of the meadow in the flattest area we could find. We set it by digging two holes right behind each tire. The tires on the trap were backed into those holes. The holes were deep enough that the tires would not touch and the frame of the trap was resting on the ground. Unhooking the trap from the truck, I drove two big stakes down on each side of the tongue of the trap. We then tightly secured the tongue to those two stakes. Lastly we drove two more big stakes in the rear of each corner. This made the trap virtually impossible to move, even with a five hundred pound grizzly doing whatever it wanted to do in there. After Chris, my dad, and I got finished setting and securing the trap, we waited for Mark to get back with the bait. The best bait is a roadkill deer. The longer it has been in the sun and the more it smells the better. As we were waiting, Mark was dragging the roadkill behind his truck. He had dragged it all the way up the road and all over the meadow, then stopped right in front of the trap. He got out of his truck, put on some big, thick, rubber gloves, and grabbed some parachute cord. The chain he was using to drag the rotten deer quarter around was unhooked and thrown into the back of the truck. Then he took the parachute cord and wrapped that deer quarter with it and tied it tight. The bait was then thrown into the back of the trap. Mark got into the trap and strung the other end of the parachute cord through the pulleys mounted on the roof of the trap and then pulled the excess out the door. The trap has a big steel door that slides up on tracks and a lock that holds it open. He grabbed a pair of vise grips that had a piece of metal welded to the jaw and a hole drilled into the handle. The vise grips were clamped onto the track the door slides on, and I tied the rope to the handle tight enough that it wasn’t triggering the vise grips. Mark said, “Take the safety latch off.� I took the latch off so the door was resting on the vise grips. Then Mark grabbed the cord behind the 4 P.M. COUNT

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pulleys and pulled on it. Then bam! popped the vise grips, and slam! the door slammed shut. I raised the door and put the safety latch back on. We reset the vise grips and Mark crawled out of the trap. I took the safety latch off. The bear trap was set and ready to catch a bear. We had successfully set the trap without the bear coming in and trying to get to the stinky bait while we worked. We all headed to the cabin to cook some food and relax a little bit. When we got back to the cabin, we built a fire outside in the fire pit and lit the lanterns in the cabin. I got the grate we cook on out of the cabin and put it over the fire. We grilled some steaks and fried up some potatoes. After we ate, we sat around the fire and told stories of trapping bears, other stories and experiences of the back country, and the life of a game warden. As darkness fell around us and the light of the lanterns got brighter, it was time for all of us to get some sleep. We got up at 4:00 a.m., built a fire, and cooked breakfast with coffee. After we ate and cleaned everything up we headed over to check the trap. Approaching the cabin, we waited until the sun came up enough for us to see. Once we could see, we inched up the road very quietly and slowly. We sat at the edge of the clearing, with the trap just in sight. We could see the trap door was down. Something had set the trap off. We pulled up to the trap very slowly, very quietly. We could see something big in there. It was still not very light out, making it hard to see clearly. As we pulled up to the door my dad reached his hand out the window and put the safety latch on so whatever was in there could not get out. My father and I went to one side of the meadow as Mark and Chris went to different parts of the meadow. We looked for cubs and we needed to make sure there was not anything else out there before we got started with the trap. We waited about an hour and with no sign of any other bears, then we got back together and started coming up with a plan. We put Mark and Chris out in the meadow around us 156

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with shotguns, just in case another bear came wandering in. My dad told me to get the tranquilizer gun and drug box and to put together a dart. He also had me make two extra doses and leave them in the syringes for when we were working on the bear just in case it woke up. I got out the gun and the box and measured out three shots of sedative. I put the dart together with one dose of sedative, screwed the bright red flag on the end of the dart, and loaded it into the gun. I gave the gun to my dad and he walked over to the side of the trap to the little door that was put in so we could dart the bears inside without having to get near the big door. He slowly unlatched the little door and opened it and pointed the gun in there and boom! Right after he shot, the bear started slamming the trap all over the place. My dad shut the little door and walked back to the truck. We put everything away, then waited about fifteen minutes for the drugs to put the bear to sleep. We made sure everyone had a pistol and was carrying a twelve gauge as well. We went over to the trap and found the bear sound asleep. We banged on the trap and the bear did not move; he was out cold. We slid open the big door, got in, and started pulling the bear out of the trap onto a tarp we had laid on the ground. Crawling in the trap behind that bear was one of the scariest things I had ever done. If he were to wake up, there would be no place for me to go. It took two of us to get the bear out of the trap. I estimated him to weigh 450-500 pounds. All four of us grabbed a corner of the tarp and dragged it to the trees where we could have some shade. The first thing we did was throw a rope over a big limb in the tree and tie the scale to it. We hooked all four corners of the tarp to the scale and all four of us pulled the bear, tarp, and scale up far enough so that the bear was not touching the ground. This big boar grizzly weighed 595 pounds. We lowered him back to the ground, got out the ice packs, and put them under his armpits to help keep his body temperature safe. 4 P.M. COUNT

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We measured his paws front and back and the length of his arms and legs. We also measured the overall length from nose to tail, the girth of his belly, and how big around his head was. He was assigned a number that came from the Game and Fish office in Cheyenne. That number was then tattooed onto his lip so he could be identified down the road. We then put a radio frequency collar on him so that at any given time a game warden could look and see exactly where he is and where he has been. The last and final step was the ear tag. The ear tag is aluminum with a number stamped into it that matches the number tattooed on his lip. Bears of this nature need to be identified in case of future need. If a bear breaks into cabins or causes property destruction it is given a strike. Three strikes and it will be destroyed. If a grizzly mauls a person, it will be destroyed immediately. Every time bears are trapped for behavioral problems they are moved away as well. The fact is that moving them hundreds of miles away usually doesn’t work, and it won’t take them very long to find their way right back to where they started. As we were finishing up and putting everything away I could hear the helicopter coming. The chopper landed in the meadow and the crew started pulling out nets and ropes from a compartment. We gave the bear another shot to keep him asleep during transport. We then put him inside a big net with a rope that was hooked to the chopper. The chopper lifted him off the ground and carried him all the way to Yellowstone National Park where he was released. For this bear, that was one strike against him. This was one of the easier traps. Everything just fell into place. Sometimes it takes days or maybe weeks to catch a bear. Sooner or later they will get caught. Unfortunately, once they start destructive behavior, they do not stop, and sooner or later they will be destroyed because of the three strike rule.

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Brandon Franklin Mr. Franklin is currently an inmate at Federal Prison Camp Yankton where he enjoys reading voraciously and stalking the library aisles giving book recommendations to any unsuspecting bystander who will feign interest. On his better days he resides in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, where he enjoys the great outdoors spending much of his time on the river deep in the forest pondering the unanswerable questions of the universe, such as why won’t these dang fish bite?

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ACT OF COOLNESS He sidled on up towards the bar on that cold December night after a long day of keeping the road hot. It had been rough going as of late, and Danny was ready to drink away the rest of the evening and put some distance between himself and his past. He ordered a whiskey straight up and a bottle of Coors to wash it down as he proceeded to start his nightly ritual of pickling his emotions. He lit up a Black and Mild and took a deep pull, then blew a thick smoke ring across the old walnut bar as the whiskey worked itself into the cracks of his soul. Besides Danny and the old timer tending bar, there was a couple of younger fellas trying to shoot a game of pool, though more than anything they were just causing a commotion. As Ol’ Danny sat there lost in his whiskey-muddled thoughts he barely even noticed the young girl come out of the back room and head outside to get a few pieces of kindling for the wood stove that she slept next to in the back of her uncle’s bar. He barely noticed the room fall silent all of a sudden; with only the low murmur of “The Price is Right” on the TV and the rhythmic snores of the old timer bar-keep asleep behind the bar. He looked up from his empty beer bottle and realized that the two young fellas had stepped out, probably to drain the snake, he thought to himself. All of a sudden Danny heard a quick snap and a muffled cry coming from outside of the Nowhere Bar. His ears pricked up like a coyote that heard a rabbit twitch its toe. He slowly worked his way to the door to take a little peek outside and see what there was to see on that devilishly cold Ozark night. The air was still and silent, frozen moments passing not at all. The only thing that moved was the breath coming out of Danny in thick clouds like steam out of a lonely train as he listened to the empty night. He went ahead and picked up a piece of cut oak firewood that was stacked seasoning under a tarp in front of the bar and felt the rough bark and sharp splinters of wood on his skin, familiar. He slowly meandered his way 160

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around the side of the cement block building, the light from the neon beer signs casting a dull glow of red and green on his face. He was hoping, no, praying he wasn’t going to see what he damn well knew he was going to see. For once, he wanted to be wrong, he thought. The moon shone bright and full and the night was clear and crisp. What Ol’ Danny came to witness that night was enough to make his blood boil hot. Those lowly mountain curs stood over that poor girl like a pack of hungry dogs about to move in for the kill as she lay crumpled on the gravel parking lot, her blood staining the white chat red. Now Dan was no hero but he knew in his heart that it’s just as bad to do nothing when you know an evil is being done as to be doing the devil’s deeds yourself. He cleared his throat and the boys jumped, realizing they’ve been found out in one of their vilest moments. Danny reared back with that old oak log and hit the bigger of the two boys like a baseball player going for a home run. He hit him so hard across the side of the head he reckoned he cracked the young fella’s skull. “That’s no way to treat a lady, son,” Danny said with a steadiness that comes only from years of a rough and ready life. The second boy turned around with a scowl of anger as he realized his kill is being taken from him by a bigger, stronger wolf, just in time to witness his own demise as Ol’ Dan brought that log down like an ax splitting kindling onto the young man’s forehead. The boy let out a stifled scream of anguish into the night a second before the crushing impact and the sound was cut short and turned into a quiet sigh as the boy slumped to the ground next to the poor girl, their blood mixing together into a black pool, like a mirror reflecting the night sky on the gravel parking lot. Then there was nothing left to be done, not there, not anywhere for Ol’ Dan. It was time for him to keep moving, just like always, never stopping. Moving through the darkness of this world with the fluid movements of an autumn leaf drifting along, riding the bitter cold currents of the evening winds. Always solitary, staying just a bend ahead of his own past. 4 P.M. COUNT

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WHEELS OF SUMMER When rubber meets the road and the connection makes the world explode with ice cream and heat lines like a mirage in a desert of an oasis that was put there just for us to quench our thirst on those perilous imaginary adventures with my best buddies. The road so hot it boils the black tar up out of the crevices like the oil from the earth is trying to escape from its own body, black blood bleeding mixed with my red blood from scraped knees, intermingling to create the body of summertime. Riding my bike as fast as I can, racing the day’s end, putting on the afterburners and exerting everything my young fresh muscles have to give. I win, I’m flying through the streets not stopping for anything, not stop signs, not cars, not even death can catch me here, I’m going so fast. Brandishing the blade of youth with a fresh whetstone’s edge, cutting through the summer’s thick air like a red-hot knife through eternity. Making the corners that are so sharp the tires melt and the earth’s tar patches the holes immediately and I’m never going to stop. I can be anywhere in fifteen minutes but I’m always late because who cares it’s summer and time doesn’t work the same, its relative, it slows down when I’m traveling down the streets that I own in my home town: East 11th, Holland, Bennett, Portland, Kings, they are my territory and I know every pothole and crack, so many memories and thoughts I have experienced along these roads most traveled. Flying up Kings Street to meet the boys and we ride everyday, everywhere, keeping the road hot, running the streets, becoming one with the streets. On our old Univegas and Schwinns, no one can keep up with the boys on Kings Street with the racing bikes cruising into oblivion. Blazing hotter than the sun, the clouds of smoke exhaled from our tires thick as we’re burning down the road.

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SCARY MOMENTS I’m driving down the night, up gravel roads, in nowhere land. Passing shadows like ghosts reaching out to grasp the vehicle but I slip away, barely, each time. The memories so fresh I can still smell the metallic iron from the blood. Still hear her screaming. I’ll never stop reliving those moments forever passing behind my eyelids, they will ride with me forever. A tarantula fingers its way slowly across the white gravel, first one then another, ‘til all you see is spiders, too many to count. Take a shot of whiskey every time I see a spider. Take a drink every time I see a toad or a bat. Drink with the devil and his night friends, maybe they can help me burn off the misery that sticks to my mind like a wasp stuck in sap, stinging wildly the bark of an old oak tree. There’s a low water slab ahead that crosses a nameless seep dividing the land. The vehicle slows and out steps a shadow of a man. I step into the water and it bites into my flesh like tiny fish with icy teeth. It comes up to my ankles and I walk upriver, the cold liquid moving slowly across my gooseflesh. The willows stir with the gentle breeze and dark mirages invade my thoughts. What’s that I see? Is it her? Is there a chance for salvation? If only I could sacrifice myself to bring her back I would. I see her beckoning me. I walk deeper into the water, struggling against the current of my thoughts. I can hear her crying, her tears flowing around me, warm. There’s a light, a fox fire glowing ahead, shimmering its reflection off the surface of the inky blackness of the water hole. I smell her scent like a hound hunting the night, searching for something lost. I follow her down now into the depths, reaching for the moon.

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Artwork by: Clark Sloan

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Artwork by: Clark Sloan

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Artwork by: Clark Sloan

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Artwork by: Tyler Sutton

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Lony Gatwas Lony Gatwas is originally from South Sudan. He came to the United States in 2005 and now lives in Ames, IA, where he owns grocery stores in Des Moines, IA and Denison, IA.

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DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER When most people visualize Africa, they see only giraffes, lions, deer, hippos, hyenas, rhinos, monkeys, zebras, bears, elephants, tigers, as well as other wild animals. They do not think of Africa as a civilized continent of people, or as a nation of diverse cultures with similar views regarding marriage and religion, or a large self-sufficient continent full of valuable resources such as gold, diamonds, and oil. Therefore, I would like to tell you a little about my people, the Africans. Africa is the second largest continent in the earth with more than fifty countries. Half of the world’s diamonds are produced from African countries, including the Congo, Kinshasa, South Africa, Botswana, and Ghana. Zimbabwe produces half of the world’s gold, while petroleum and natural gas are produced in large quantities by Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and South Sudan. Most of the wood cut from Africa’s vast forests is used as African fuel; the rest is exported to the world. I think one of the reasons most people of the world do not consider the African peoples or simply ignore us is that foreign journalists present us in a negative light. People need to learn not to judge a man by the color of his skin, but rather by his action or behavior. I have had many life experiences while living in several African countries, including, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Uganda. I also went to the Middle East, I speak six African languages, therefore I am well qualified to discuss many aspects and realities of African life. Nevertheless, I will focus my brief discussion with marriage and religion. Although Africa is made up of many countries and cultures, we have similar views when it comes to marriage and religion. Our individual cultures, which include behaviors and beliefs, are passed down from generation to 4 P.M. COUNT

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generation. We have a strong feeling of family loyalty that binds our family units. It is important for the entire family unit to concern itself with all of its members’ needs. We take on a special concern for the elderly and sick in our family unit. When making important decisions, we seek the advice and approval of other relatives, especially when making a decision to become married. Marriage is not only an agreement between a man and woman to live together, but it is also an important way for Africans to grow a family through the addition of in-laws. The family of a potential groom and bride must agree that the two people shall marry. During the marriage considerations, the man who intends to marry, his father, or uncle must provide a gift of money, livestock, or any other thing of value to the woman’s family. This gift is called the bride price, or bride wealth. Once married, most men do not place a high regard or value upon the new bride and family. Most African cultures permit polygamy. Becoming married to more than one woman has been a cultural and traditional practice for hundreds of years. Many of us follow this custom today and have more than one wife. The husband is expected to divide his attention and possessions equally among his various families. The husband should supply each wife with her own house, livestock, and other goods. It is not easy for a poor person to acquire a wife, especially if his relatives do not own cows or have a dowry. Normally, a person must own at least 150 cows valued at $500 each before he can deliver a bride price. According to our tradition, a bride must be a virgin before marriage. Men are not allowed to touch a woman during the courting period. He must have a chaperone, either his younger brother or sister, present at all times with the woman. If a man touches the potential bride before marriage, he will be punished. Africans were living peacefully together until foreign colonists came into Africa, and then our families began 170

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to divide and our lifestyles changed. Regardless, we still manage to keep ninety-five percent of our original traditions alive to this day. Even though the foreign missionaries have tried to end our practice of polygamy and the offering of a bride price, we as a people have resisted their efforts because we strongly believe in our traditions and cultures. Millions of Africans practice one of hundreds of various religions. Every African ethnic group has its own style of worship and practices. We still have many features in common, such as the explanation of how the universe was created and differences between right and wrong. We have similar beliefs in our definition of the relationship between humans and nature, and the young and the old. We explain human suffering similarly and instruct people how to live a good life, how to avoid mistakes, and how to obey the gods in order to gain good health or fertile land. And most importantly, we all agree in the existence of a supreme God. Many of our religions conduct a ceremony that celebrates a person’s passage from childhood to adulthood. The Arab and European colonies tried to impose their religious culture and beliefs on us, but little avail. Sure, it is often said that Africa is the cradle of humanity, due to the finding of ancient fossils throughout our lands, where scientists declare that human life started and spread. However, it must never be forgotten that Africans are a proud people, a strong people, and a civilized people who have their own ways of doing things, including unique marriage practices and religious cultures.

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Artwork by: Tyler Sutton

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Artwork by: Clark Sloan

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Artwork by: Llody Westervelt

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Artwork by: Enrique Zuniga

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Mr. Nash Mr. Nash is a poet, author, musician, and activist born in Fort Wayne, IN, but raised all over the United States. While incarcerated, his job is making use of his audio engineering talents by recording and editing books for the blind for the South Dakota Talking Book and Braille Library. Upon completing his sentence, he plans to publish several books he has written, continue his various audio and visual enterprises, and give back to the community through volunteer work and activism.

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PRISON BLUES Hurry up and wait, I can’t wait. To get home to my family and friends, if I had any, or I could pretend. Not about the value of what I’ve lost, of time I can’t get back, like a cut, with blood loss. It marches on. Weight pressing down on me. The cause: wondering what I’ll say to my children, now grown. Where do I stand and who am I to them now? That is the unknown. The blues, I feel like I’m all used up. Got to get up, it’s another day, yet another away, from those I hold dear. I wonder. How much longer will they keep me here? The years stretched out in front of me. No rest, no sleep. Stuck within these walls, my life is frozen and stalled to a standstill. The blues come when phones are disconnected. Relationships lost, so quickly disrespected. Look at him. He’s in prison. He’s paying the cost for his bad decisions. So you know something’s wrong with him, or within him. No one asked him about his life. He grew up a victim. Right from wrong, there was no one around to teach him. No education, he was relegated to the system. The blues come when the woman you were with tells you she’s met a man and she’s in love. It tears you apart worse than anything you could ever think of. Not only that, but your kids are mad ‘cause you’re not there. Fifteenminute phone calls, not enough to show you care. Two-hour visits every two months. Too much going on in their lives, it’s too much of a hassle; the six-hour trips a nuisance.

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Yep, I got the blues all right. Not much I can do to make it better. How many times have I written to friends and not got back a letter? If I had a dime for every time someone said they’d put money on my books. It never came, no shame, when money from me they took. I got the blues, but I also have hope. My time will come. Somehow I will cope. The sun will rise each day and when it comes, it’s for me to take. Thank God I’m not here for life. I do have an out date. Until then, I have my pen to escape, and let you know about the prison blues…. Can you relate?

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I DREAMED A DREAM I dreamed a dream of freedom, Of innocence lost, of men too old from work and toil. Tired, their dreams wrung out by the sweat of their palms. I dreamed a dream, of love. Of children playing, their eyes wide with expectations of what they can become. I dreamed a dream of greatness Of a lady undaunted by the word “No,� who did not give up on herself, and shattered the glass ceiling. I dreamed a dream, and then, I dreamed again, but sometimes dreams are easily forgotten. So easily remembered, when first awakened but fade away slowly, slipping through fingers, leaving only an itch. To do something, to change, the future remains to be seen. When today becomes tomorrow, tomorrow is still a day away. Again, I dreamed a dream, of America, being great for everyone, not just for some. Ancestors that drank from colored water fountains and were three-fifths of a human being. The same dream, of immigrants, that built railroads, were treated unjustly, and indigenous people, virtually erased. I dreamed this dream while lying down but, in my dream, I stood up: for what is right for everyone, something to eat, good water to drink, 4 P.M. COUNT

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health care and a place to live in spite of money or class. I dreamed a dream of equality. Where justice is truly balanced and colorblind, people of color are not prone to be shot and killed because of their skin. Where prisons are few, and families made whole. I dreamed this dream but then as I began to awaken and as it started to slip through my fingers, I was determined to hold on, hold on, hold on, until this dream I dreamed came true.

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Michael Paiva Michael Paiva is an inmate at Federal Prison Camp Yankton. He is from Muskegon, MI (Dune City USA). He is a musician, aspiring writer, and film and music buff.

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A DREAM OF THE END I sit in my car listening to the radio in my driveway. Today is the day it has been prophesied that the world will end. Just like billions of other people around the world, I don’t believe it. That’s all that is being discussed on the radio. I am cleaning out my car when suddenly I notice the sun is no longer shining, like a cloud just covered it. I look up and see that the sky has turned dark red and is filled with black clouds. I look through the passenger side window and see the neighbor’s dog floating in midair and then notice my car is no longer on the ground. The “Star Spangled Banner” starts to play on the radio, cuts in and out, and then I hear air raid sirens coming from outside. I am in shock. This can’t be happening, I think. I see giant flames forming in the sky, silently becoming bigger and bigger. I float out of my car. There is no gravity. I hear what sounds like grinding metal coming out of the sky. The flames get closer and I feel as if I am swimming through the air. I see trees in the distance, burning, but the flames look like they are in slow motion and the smoke just lingers. I see other people, children, and objects that aren’t tied down floating through the air. I can hear their frantic screams. The heat grows. Everything is on fire. I look into the sky and see a single bird flying in circles. It bursts into flames and its bones drift into oblivion. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I am on fire; within seconds I am nothing but ashes. I no longer exist.

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VIDEO GAMES My friends and I used to play some of the same games over and over. Like Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64. We all had our characters that we played with. I was usually Lugi. Lugi had a move that was worth twenty-five hit points an extreme upper cut and if you were already at thirty-five hit points worth of damage he would knock you out of whatever arena we were fighting in. Not just anyone could pull off that move; it took time to master but once I did my friends hated me for it. They would say, “That move is cheap as hell.” One of my friends finally had a nervous breakdown because of the move after he could no longer beat me and could not perfect the move himself. He started stomping the N64 just like a wrestler in the WWE pounding his opponent into the mat with his boots. I say, “Wooa, bro what’s your deal? It’s just a game, bro.” My friend screams, “Oh screw you, Lugi, you stupid Italian moron!” I say, “Dude, I am not Lugi. I just play him in the video game.” He picks up my television and throws it at me while screaming “Die, Lugi, die!” I dive out of the way at the last second and get back up to my feet and upper cut the crap out of him, which sends him to the floor. In a daze on the floor he manages to mutter, “That was cheap as hell.” I stand there and think for a second maybe I am Lugi.

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FOR ETERNITY I drive to the beach to clear my head. I park my car and go sit in the sand and watch and listen to the waves from Lake Michigan crash to the shore. It is peaceful, until I feel a sharp pain in my right forearm. I look down at my arm and see a mosquito feasting on my blood. I lift my left hand up to smack it and just before I do I notice something strange about it. I lift my right forearm closer to my eyes to examine the mosquito. Attached to the mosquito is what looks like a miniature video camera. I can’t believe my eyes; my heart starts racing faster, feeding the mosquito even more blood. When I attempt to kill the mosquito, its body turns into a miniature drill bit and it burrows itself into my arm. I watch it traveling underneath my skin, and the pain is horrible. It comes out of the same hole it went into. A small amount of blood comes out and trickles down my arm and the mosquito hovers above it. The thing that looks like a miniature video camera has a spotlight that shines down on my puncture wound. The mosquito shoots some sort of glowing neon green liquid onto wound and flies away. I watch the liquid flow directly into the wound, like it knew that’s where it must go, as if it has a mind of its own. The wound heals shut a few seconds later, but I can still see the liquid glowing underneath my skin. I walk back to my car feeling confused and light-headed, questioning the reality of what I had just seen. I go back to my car and close the door; I take a deep breath and lie back in the seat. I adjust the rearview mirror and see what looks like my dead brother David in the back seat, David who was killed in Iraq, with the top part of his skull missing, blood flowing down his pale white face with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. “You gotta light?” he asks, followed by laughter. I turn around quickly and look to the back seat; no one is there. I 184

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still hear his laughter echoing in my head. I open the car door and puke onto the pavement outside. I watch as a neon green spot within the vomit turns into a praying mantis that starts slow dancing by itself through the puddle of vomit. I hear it sing in a baritone pitched voice “I’m singing… and I’m dancing… in the rain.” I slam the door closed and a raindrop hits the windshield, followed by another and another. I turn on the car and head towards the highway to get back home. It’s now raining hard and thunder begins to boom across the sky. I am not sure whether I should check myself into a hospital or an insane asylum, but I just want to get home and try to sleep it off first. I make it to the highway when my cell phone rings and it has the word RESTRICTED on the caller ID. When I answer the phone I hear a swirling sound of static and I say “Hello?” I hear heavy breathing on the other end and I say “Hello?” again, but louder this time. A voice that is very low, slow and sounds as if it is gargling water at the same time as its speaking says, “We have been watching you for a very long time now.” “Who is this?” I say back. “Look into the vehicle on your right,” the voice says. I roll down my passenger side window and I look over and notice a black SUV with tinted windows. The driver’s side window of the SUV rolls down and whatever this thing is was huge. It looks like a cross between a human and a wild ape with mangy brown hair all over its body. It smiles a gigantic smile, revealing its teeth that look as big and sharp as a great white shark, staring at me, with its big, completely black eyes. It then reaches for something in a bucket next to it on the passenger seat. When it brings its hand out of the bucket it looks like it’s holding a human heart, still beating in its hand. It takes a bite out of the heart and an excessive amount of blood flows from it, oozing down its hand and chin. It smiles again with chunks of heart in its teeth. Within that moment I pray to God that what I was seeing 4 P.M. COUNT

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wasn’t real, that this is all a dream. With the phone still to my ear I hear the voice say slowly, “Pray for death.” The creature’s smile fades to an evil, angry sneer and it crushes the rest of the heart in its hand as the window slowly goes back up. As the highway ends I start driving over a bridge and the vehicle with the horrifying beast vanishes. I toss my cell phone over the side of the bridge into the water below. I pull into my driveway and notice that all the lights in my house are on. I remember not leaving them on before I left. I turn off the car and then witness all the lights turn off throughout the house at the same time. Panic and fear set in again. I get out of my car and jog to the front door in the pouring rain; I take out my key to unlock it and turn the doorknob and realize it’s already unlocked. I push the door open and a flash of lightning lights up the house from the inside, followed by a clap of thunder. I walk in slowly and kick off my shoes. I attempt to turn on the lights in the living room and nothing happens. I walk to my bedroom and a flash of lightning brightens the room. Before I cross the threshold into the room I notice a woman with long black hair, wearing a black hat and a black dress sitting on the side of the bed where I normally sleep, facing the wall staring at a family portrait hanging on the wall. “Excuse me, Miss. What are you doing in my house?” I ask nervously. Without moving and still staring at the picture on the wall, she says in a cheerful voice, “Matthew, you’re home! I’ve missed you so much! Come sit next to me! I’m just admiring the family photo on the wall! I remember that day like it was yesterday.” I immediately recognize the voice as my mother’s. I clench my fist together in anger as tears form in my eyes. “It’s me, Matthew, your mother,” she says still unmoved. “You are not my mother!” I scream out in anger and confusion. She responds calmly, saying, “You were born on October 30th, 1985, at exactly 3:49 a.m. on a night just like tonight during a thunderstorm. I remember your father.” 186

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“Shut up!” I screamed, interrupting her. “You are not my mother!” I say again. I as I stare at her I notice it looks as if her body begins to vibrate and twitch and she says angrily, “I remember the day you found me hanging in my closet, how pathetic you were. You should have been there for me, with your father dying from the cancer and a month later David being killed. You left me all alone. It’s all your fault.” “Please stop,” I say, pleading and sobbing. The voice is no longer my mother’s; it’s the same voice I heard on the phone. It says, “You will be with us soon. Death is no escape from us. We will haunt your dreams and rot your mind forever.” The word “forever” echoes out. The creature on the bed stands. The room is illuminated as if by a strobe light of lightning flashes. I cringe as the thing slowly gets closer and closer. It has a black veil in front of its face. It stands right in front of me and throws the veil back. It’s my dead mother with a belt mark around her neck. She smiles, revealing a mouth that has nails set jaggedly inside of the gums instead of teeth and asks in a whiny voice, “Why don’t you love me anymore?” She starts laughing madly and then bites down, driving the nails deep into her gums as blood flows from her mouth down her chin. I run to the bathroom and vomit in the toilet. With my back against the bathroom door, breathing heavily and covered in sweat, I notice a green glow coming from the toilet bowl. A hairy green caterpillar crawls on the edge of the bowl, then stands up straight and sings in a child’s voice, while swaying its top half from left to right, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” I swat at it, knocking it into the bile filled toilet water and flush it away. That’s the last thing I remember. I wake up in my bed the next day to the sound of my ringtone that was on the cell phone I thought I had tossed over the bridge. I throw the covers off from over my head and then think, “Thank God it was only a dream.” I look at 4 P.M. COUNT

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the phone on the night table next to my bed and I see the word RESTRICTED again on the caller ID. My stomach turns and I start questioning whether I am awake or dreaming. I feel as if I am heading straight into a black hole and nothing can be done about it. As I pick up the phone from the night table I look at the floor and see massive wet footprints leading up to the night table from the living room. I decide not to answer the phone. It stops ringing and immediately there is a knock on my front door. I get up out of bed and look towards the door, which has a stained glass window in it, and see someone or something on the other side. Before I go to the door to see who or what it is, I look down at the trail footprints and I realize that they start from the middle of the living room. How could that even be possible? There is another knock on the door, this time louder, jarring me back to reality, I am so confused and in deep thought, I forget there is someone or something at the door. I open the door and there is an extremely tall, skinny man in a grey business suit carrying a briefcase. He extends his hand and says, “Hello, how are you?” with a huge grin on his face. I shake his hand and notice his teeth look as if they are decaying and the skin on his hand feels hot and almost soupy. “Forgive me for my unpleasant appearance. I have problems of my own too, you know.” he says. “Do you mind if I come in and talk to you? It’s raining dogs and cats out here.” “Who are you?” I ask. “That’s not important now. May I please come inside? We have many extremely important things to discuss,” he says. “Listen, there have been some very strange things going on and I don’t feel comfortable just letting you come into my house.” I say. “I have the answers to all of your questions and problems. Have you been bitten by any mosquitos lately?” he asks. “I think so, but I am having trouble distinguishing my dreams from reality. I am not sure if anything that 188

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happened yesterday really happened or not,” I say to him. “Do you remember seeing anyone who has passed away?” he asks. I reluctantly answer, “Yes.” I then move out of the doorway and push the door open wider and tell him to come in. Once he is inside my living room he says “We have much to discuss, but first do you mind if I use the restroom?” “No, go ahead,” I say, as I point him in the general direction. I sit on my couch nervously waiting to hear what this mystery man has to say that could possibly make any of this make sense. My phone rings again, this time with a number that I don’t recognize. I answer the phone and faintly say, “Hello?” “Hello, is this Matthew?” the voice responds. “Yes, who is this?” I ask. “That’s not important right now. I am on my way to your house. It took me a long time to track you down. Thank God I am not too late,” he says frantically. “What’s going on?” I ask. “I will tell you everything when I get there. I am about six feet, five inches, 180 pounds, white; I will be wearing a grey suit and carrying a briefcase. Whatever you do, do not let anyone into your house,” he says. “From the description you just gave me you are already here. You’re in my bathroom right now,” I inform him. There is a long silence over the phone. “I am sorry, it sounds like I am too late. Get out of that house as quickly as possible,” the man says. I hang up the phone and start for the door, when I think to myself, what if the guy on the phone is the evil doppelgänger? I look into the bathroom and notice the door is halfway open. I say aloud, “Hey, you all right in there?” There is no response. I start slowly walking towards the door. Once I am in front of it I say, “Hello?” while pushing the door slowly open. The light is still on and I notice what looks like a puddle on the floor. When I look closer at the puddle, I see the man’s face that I had let into 4 P.M. COUNT

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my house within it. It looks as if there are waves moving within the face puddle. I bend down and put my hand on the pooled face and then pinch it between my thumb and index finger, pulling it up. It is some sort of suit, the man’s entire body, skin and all. I drop it back on the floor realizing it is a disguise. I look out of the bathroom into the living room and see nothing. Whatever was wearing the suit could be anywhere. I walk out of the bathroom slowly and then turn around and start walking backwards toward the front door, making sure nothing can come out of my bedroom to attack me. My adrenalin is pumping through my body so hard I feel as if I could puke again. My heart is beating so viciously it’s giving me a migraine, with sweat pouring down my face as my eyes dart from one side to the other. As I am backing up, I bump into something and I am stopped dead in my tracks. I hear it breathing heavily behind me. I close my eyes and take a deep breath and then exhale. I turn around and see the giant beast I had seen in the car standing before me. It is absolutely massive, maybe eight to nine feet tall, 500 to 600 pounds. It puts its hand on my head and says, “It is time to release you from time and space. You will experience the brief heavens before your everlasting hell.” My arms straighten out to their sides and I see the middle of my chest starting to glow green. The creature still has its hand on my head and I watch as the glowing green substance starts traveling through my veins. I can feel it moving through my body like millions of little amoebas taking over my blood. I can hear sounds so clearly that it feels like if you drop a bread crumb on carpet my head will explode. Just as I think my entire being is on the verge of exploding or imploding, I feel weightless. Every molecule that makes up my body feels as if it is high on heroin. Everything that is unknown becomes known to me. I can feel the energy from the universe flowing within me. I am at one with everything and everyone. All I can see is a white light that keeps getting brighter and brighter until it slowly forms into rolling clouds, and through the clouds is space. It seems as if I am traveling through space feeling nothing but unconditional 190

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love for everything within the entire universe. I start seeing what looks like a projector reel of filmed moments of my life. My mother holding me when I was born in the hospital. My little hands gripped around my father’s fingers while he teaches me how to walk. My mother and father young, happy and in love, slow dancing to a record in the living room of the house I grew up in with me sitting on the floor, watching them, smiling, playing with my toys. The first time I held my baby brother. My brother and I chasing fireflies with canning jars, trying to collect as many as we could. It went on longer and I became older and older. I hear my mother say, “It’s not your fault.” My father says, “I am proud of you, son.” My brother says, “I will always love you and forever miss you.” The whole series of events I had just witnessed was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced. I hear the sounds of waves crashing into the shore and in the distance I hear wind chimes from someone’s house making music within the wind. The sounds start to fade and then I hear what sounds like a flat line. The ringing becomes louder and louder until it sounds as if billions of people flatlining all at once. Vivid and terrible visions start passing before my eyes. I am young in a car seat driving with my grandfather when a drunk driver hits us head on flattening the driver’s side, crushing my grandfather’s skull, killing him instantly with me in the car screaming and crying but surviving. My father coming home drunk beating my mother half to death with his bare fist. I strike out in little league in a championship game and after the game my father tells me how disappointed he was in me. My brother in Iraq having the top part of his skull shot off by a sniper. I watch the life drain out of his eyes. I watch the cancer eat my father alive till he withers away to nothing. I witness my mother hang herself. I feel every damaging emotion all at once. I am in my own personal hell. Once the visions end I think to myself, it’s over, until they start over and like a song on repeat. I re-live the worst moments of my life and my family’s life over and over for eternity. 4 P.M. COUNT

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COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT

In their fifth year working together, FPC Yankton and American Legion Post 186 have built a rocker to be raffled off as a fundraiser for the Legion’s scholarship program. Pictured above, from left to right: Heriberto Tellez, Warden; Dr. Warren Thompson; B. Hegge, Maintenance Foreman; Stan Rolfes; B. Eischen, Associate Warden.

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NATIONAL PLAYERS

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NATIONAL PLAYERS REFLECTION By: Michael Paiva The National Players rendition of The Great Gatsby was extremely well put together, entertaining and memorable. The cast dived in deep to portray their characters. The play changed my outlook on theatrical drama because I must admit, I have never been a fan of plays before until now. I consider myself a film buff and have always understood that plays are where most actors and actresses start their careers, but with the plays I have seen the acting was typically subpar, which skewed my views on performing arts. I can now say that I will be attending more plays upon my release and I have the National Players to thank for it. In the following months after their performance of The Great Gatsby, inmates kept calling other inmates “old sport.� The presence of their performance still lingered amongst the compound.

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NATIONAL PLAYERS REFLECTION By: Michael Nash I was truly amazed how The National Players were able to travel and unfurl such a production in so short a period. In a few short hours, they had the stage, lights and sound assembled to create what I thought was a first rate and very professional production. The play itself had many themes that mirror the current atmosphere of the American drive for wealth, striving for the American dream, and the disillusionment of it all. I think the theme went well for those of us here incarcerated at the camp, because many of us were a type of Gatsby in our own right. Before us, we can see it all crumble, much like this society and the lives we once knew. I can go on and on about this play and the themes therein. I really appreciated the actors, putting on a great show, and speaking and educating us more on the themes with a question and answer session. They went out of their way to take us out of prison and somewhere else, where we could dream, if only for a short while.

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Akeelan Paulette Akeelan Paulette is from East Saint Louis, IL. He is currently serving a sixty month prison sentence at Federal Prison Camp Yankton. He enjoys writing poems because his hometown friend introduced him to her pastime, which is writing, performing poetry, and enjoying spoken word at open-mic nights. Through reflecting on his past behaviors, he plans to launch himself into a better lifestyle for his family and friends.

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THE SUNRISE WINDOW A window of hope is right in front of me and I can see the horizon, warm and serene. I stare out of this window with nothing on my mind. I’m consumed by the sight. The sun is rising from the east and the bridge is dark like a shadow of another larger bridge from the distance. The traffic is small, just some commuters from out of town maybe, and the late-night flingers hurrying home to catch their girlfriends or wives before they awake from their slumber. How interesting I can see so many different perspectives from this view. Once in Chicago I had a room that looked out to the east and the view was OK. I know this window all too well though, and I have figured it out finally and I’m feeling enlightened by what is happening. There are cardinals looking for their first meal and robins too. I feel like a bird watcher and neighborhood watch. On this Saturday morning my window brings so much excitement. Should I feel creepy or concerned? I mean, I will never revisit this moment because it feels rare. When I look behind me I see a beautiful woman who loves me and she seems to be dreaming about serenity. I wonder if she is dreaming of this moment as well. I breathe deeply and watch the sun slowly rise, perfectly. Then I hear a knock at the door.

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WHAT LOVE IS...? Love is painful if you are not careful. Love is strange when it first makes its way into your life. Love has many different looks: Cold, Dark, Warm, Encouraging, Relaxed, Timeless or Eternal. Beauty is love when it has matured and there lie mutual feelings after years of arguments.... Painful when love has gone back to the dust from which is was formed I would love once more just to get back that feeling if I could, but it’s hard to swallow the food that I love the most. It has left but I’m sure I can get it back. Am I being naïve? Optimistically I search for the first sight of what I adore the most: Love.

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WHY WRITE? I started writing because of Nicole, my sister. She explained to me that writing relieves stress. “Get your thoughts on paper; maybe you can write a book someday,” she would say. Getting thoughts on paper is the first step I took when I began to write. I have made a significant leap from high school and freshman year in college. Writing gave me no satisfaction in those days. I didn’t have a clue about how powerful words are when they are used in the right light. Now let us fast forward to now, where I’m in prison and writing becomes my way out of the monotony, unwanted encounters with others, and stress relief from the constant thoughts I often call the “reality check.” Another advantage writing has given me is that the more I write the better I have become at communicating. Communication is my way of getting me from point A to B. Writing is a platform that has allowed me to visit many unique places in different societies, coexisting. I’m an honored guest when I arrive. Using writing as one of the tools to communicate helps me massively when a phone or face-to-face connect is not available. When I can vividly explain the way I feel with a pen and pad, life seems effortless. I can recall thoughts of the relationships with women, teachers, and mentors, my parents who sheltered, clothed, fed, and most of all worked graveyard shifts, doubles, and other legitimate hustles to provide a structured life for me and my siblings. The tears start to flow out of the clear blue sky like rain as I try to look up and hold them in but they continue. The way I used to look at tears or emotions-- well, you all know how men like to look macho, feel more secure with their manhood, and worst of all avoid feeling or being softhearted for even thinking about sheading a tear in the first place. Furthermore, I realize that I have succeeded at being a 4 P.M. COUNT

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manipulative young man. My intentions were to help others but in turn I got my share of their cake too. Now I hope through constant due diligence I can provide a guide for my son to follow. Providing a foundation through writing is important in this society we live in. Technology is so distracting that I feel standing up for the beliefs that I instill in him will help him to detect the real news from the fake within the riffraff of this fast-paced world. Slowing down the pace for the generation in the rearview mirror will, I hope, allow us to stress less. Writing has inscribed hope in my hands to create a reformed lifestyle. My commitment to writing is tough because I have not practiced the craft and made writing a priority in my life. Writing is similar to a relationship that’s in the mature stage for me. I am either going to go up or down. How do I continue forward in a relationship? I keep the fire going with a spark here and a spark there. Eventually the flame will ignite, even in the cold and windy seasons. I will stay creative, think outside of my comfort zone, and get to writing. The words are right in my grasp. All I have to do is reach out and grab a few and put them together. That will give me the title to start my next masterpiece.

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Terrall E. Tillman, Sr. Mr. Terrall E. Tillman Sr., author of “Formula for Success: Reentry 030,” “Lessons Learned,” and “R A W” (Raw Authentic Writings), is a poet, philosopher, creative writer, and self-made authority on prevention, intervention, and incarceration. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, this former teen father has defied the odds of over eighteen years in federal prison and twenty-five years of street life in SCLA, triumphing away from poverty and the “thug” life, selling drugs, indulging in violence and tainted in addiction! Earning various education and professional certifications, and now armed with years of adept knowledge and proficiency in educating, T. E. Tillman, Sr. has assisted hundreds of civilians and inmates regain their focus and strengths as they battle their misfortunes and stand up to become better and stronger human beings. Father of five and coach to many, his love, passion, resilience, and dedication have propelled T. E. Tillman, Sr. to become a profound authority and one of the most experienced and relatable mentors in the United States.

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MY EXPERIENCE AT YANKTON FPC Since I arrived here at Yankton FPC (Federal Prison Camp) I’ve been going through an abnormal transformation in how I had been serving my time in prison. My interactions with other inmates here have been a little more abstract than usual. I believe it’s because of the diversity of the people and the large number of inmates and separation of the general population’s living quarters. This institution is spread apart so far and I have to walk a certain amount of time and stairs to get from one place to another. The inmates here are not as receptive as inmates at the past institutions where I’ve served time. I’m from the West Coast “by way of South Central Los Angeles,” where street demographics are a key element of identity and helps men to merge into social settings such as prison. Having a different kind of demeanor and mindset than the other black inmates already here who are predominately from the Midwest and Southwest, I’ve struggled to open up to them and/or find common ground to build a little rapport with some of them. After two months of being at this historical college/ prison facility and warming up to my surroundings and everything this place has to offer, I’m finally getting comfortable and engaging more with my peers as well as staff members. When I first got here to Yankton after being at Taft Correctional Institution in Central California for thirty-three months, where the building structures and compound were bland and close in proximity, I was overwhelmed with how spread out this institution’s structures are. I was very pleased to be in a much better and healthier environment as far as the atmosphere and natural community surroundings. The air quality here is great, and I’m fond of the landscaping of the facility along with all the variety of trees, plants and beautiful pollen202

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filled flowers. These arrangements are tranquil for me while the educational programs offered here are cool. From my experience the inmates and staff emulate the prison’s surroundings. Yankton FPC is literally in the middle of a suburban community that is quit and harmonious. This prison camp has a gym, weights, a leather shop, the dog training program “F.I.D.O.” (federal inmate dog obedience) and many games and physical programs that weren’t offered at Taft. I have a decent everyday schedule. I’m starting to gain my strength and health back after first getting here and having my two left wisdom teeth pulled. My daily program is as follows: I participate in RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program) Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. On Tuesdays I attend Creative Writing Class from noon - 3:45 p.m., then I’m off to work in food service, the kitchen to be more exact, from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. After work is over for me, I decide if I’m going to work out with weights or exercise in any capacity. I keep on moving forward and stay positive toward other people that I encounter. It’s funny how all people in prison environments have different perceptions of a new inmate without having a single word spoken to them. But unfortunately that’s the stigma of being an inmate in a prison and those are some of the experiences that come with this prison lifestyle. Here recently I’ve been getting more in tune with the Creative Writing Class projects and the new, different concepts that I’m learning from RDAP and other people around this camp. Taking special interest in my mind, body, soul, and spirit is my main focus as I prepare myself for the last phase and days of my ten-year sentence. I’m continuing to fine-tune my future business ventures and other products that I have to put out on the market once my reentry transition begins next year in 2019 before the summer. Because the weather here has been bi-polar since my arrival in February, I’ve not been able to build a solid regimen for my workout schedule. However, I have still incorporated the physical and mental aspect of losing about ten pounds from 4 P.M. COUNT

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my midsection so that my eight-pack can be nicely chiseled and once I’m set free I can immediately start implementing photo shoots for my second and new VELVET 1 Calendar. But first things first; I have to properly integrate my persona into my new surroundings here at Yankton. Following the many new rules that apply here at Yankton and adhering to a program that will suit my best interest and allow me to go home eighteen months earlier than my old release date is the main objective and the beginning and ending stages of my incarceration at this institution. I arrived here with some other inmates that I was with at Taft and a couple other guys that I met in Oklahoma City who were cool and relatable, so those are the main people I talk to and function with at this point. Through my networking ability and positive spirit I’ve recently met a couple of other guys from Los Angeles, Chicago, Omaha and Indiana that were here already and they seem to be real stand-up fellas so I associate with them on a frequent basis. Looking at the present now, I see that my transition here has continued to progress by building new bonds, and other friendly acquaintances are starting to emerge. I’ve had a few sticky situations in the RDAP and with a cellmate, but nothing major enough for me to lose any sleep over or get overwhelmed by. Trying to live with eleven other guys of different races, beliefs, and backgrounds in a small area meant only for about four people is in itself a super test for me. Though it’s frustrating at times to deal with some of these cellmates, I’m up to the challenge and I have only a short time to accomplish my main goals for being here, which is to take the RDAP, better myself by learning some things that I can take with me and utilize during my lifetime, and get the year off my sentence so I can go home sooner to my children and family. Recent personal situations outside the prison setting concerning my family and children are weighing heavily on me; therefore I’m finding ways to cope accordingly so I can prevail with my goals. A few days ago one of my relatives was killed in the Baldwin Hills Mall in Los Angeles! This 204

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tragedy has scalded my family for life, while I’m sitting here in prison, unable to console anyone or do anything to help the situation. My second-born daughter in Des Moines is about to give birth to my fifth-born grandchild without having the comfort of me being there for them, while back in Los Angeles, my ten-year-old son and ten-yearold daughter are both going through trying times. They are both going through these unfortunate personal events without my security or presence to be there for them as a good father should. I feel truly helpless because all I can do is talk to them, write to them, and pray to God that things will work out for the best while I’m here and unable to do anything physically to make their circumstances better. All these serious life-altering issues are relevant to my personal life and things that affect me directly; because I’m confined, I don’t have any control over any of them at all. Those matters concerning my family caught me off guard and I didn’t expect those events to happen, which are other reasons I dread confinement and want to get out of prison. But this process at Yankton is an accepted learning curve that I expected to come about because I am in a new environment with many different types of mentalities and people who live tremendously different lifestyles. Camp facilities are tricky places in which to serve time because of the variety of people dwelling there. There are some white collar and drug offenders coming straight off the street that have never been to jail before and don’t know what to expect of prison life or how to do time in a respectful manner. There are people who are repeat offenders on violations or serving new sentences who are distraught or angry about being back in prison. And then there are the guys who have worked themselves down from higher level institutions after years of incarceration and do their time in a certain manner and act according to the circumstances they’ve been conditioned and accustomed to. All these kinds of people and different mind-sets and personalities are a situation that causes a gumbo effect that can be good for some or all but bad for others. 4 P.M. COUNT

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I myself have served time in twenty different jail/federal facilities and been on every level in the FBOP except for the super max level which is in Florence, CO. Since this is my second federal conviction, my eighteen years of experience warrants respect from other people because I know the difference among all these different types of inmates. Though I’ve been in prison for only six and a half years on this second prison sentence, I still have the mentality that I can turn on and off quicker than a light switch to adapt to my surroundings or immediate spontaneous prison situations. Therefore, it is imperative for me to make it through the RDAP and this second prison term without any damaging factors that will delay my reentry to society and reuniting with my family and loved ones. Because I’m aware of these factors and the imbalanced mix of individuals on this compound, over the course of the next seven months that I’m in the RDAP I will be learning and applying new skills combined with old skills to make it through my experience here at Yankton as I prepare to return home to my family and community a more refined man, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, leader, entrepreneur, organizer, speaker and facilitator. But the challenge still remains here and now in the present as I navigate my way through these final days of confinement. The sooner I get my program in place and keep up a regular schedule the better I will be able to complete the rest of my time here at Yankton in a favorable manner. Displaying positive energy while staying prayed up (praying daily), keeping busy, creative, and productive will allow me to remain focused on the bigger picture and understand that this situation is only a temporary one is the key for me! As I acquire more lessons learned, plus lifestyle and communication skills that will allow me to be a better, well-rounded person, I am continuing to pursue a life of happiness and spirituality that I so truly desire in order to be a much more pleasant human being! Yankton FPC is a place and an experience that is only one part of this great journey through my life, but it is the last stop and the beginning of the end as an incarcerated man! Au Revoir. 206

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WHY CREATIVE WRITING IS IMPORTANT IN PRISON Marquise Bowie Writing gives me the ability to be vulnerable without judgment while healing from past hurts. The creative writing class gives me a pass to roam free from the confines of prison and allows me to fly around the world, at least temporarily. And for this flying lesson, I am grateful for this opportunity to spread my wings. Chris Warren The creative writing class has given me the tools to learn and the audacity to try. And not only this, but to see when things don’t work, why they don’t work, and to keep crafting until there is an authentic voice, there, on the paper, reliving unimaginable stories to an intrigued audience. Ryan Fagan This class has allowed me to dig deep into my heart and soul and share stories that I have not talked about or thought about in many years. Lony Gatwas This creative writing class has been a wonderful experience to me. I look back to my past and am proud of my accomplishment, and I can make a path through life having communication skills and being productive in society. J. Sauceda I have learned about different viewpoints of life that I would have never considered—lessons that are powerful enough to break stereotypes with anyone who is open enough to hear them. The creative writing class became the perfect venue for those stories and opinions. 4 P.M. COUNT

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Donald Hynes Although the changes I ‘ve gone through since taking the class have benefitted me in obvious ways, such as being able to express myself in writing and reading to a crowd, I am most appreciative of the fact that I learned so much about myself and I wrote creative stories. Brandon Franklin The creative writing program has been instrumental in allowing me to be more comfortable with putting pen to page and hone my skills to the blunt edge that it is today. I feel that writing, like any art form, is something you develop slowly throughout your life and as long as you enjoy uncovering the mysteries of your thoughts the process is working as intended. Mr. Anstett Dr. Reese’s guidance and spirit have been inspiring, as well as the guest authors. This has been time well spent. Mike Murphy As humans, we all need to communicate with one another. It may be through speech, facial expressions, physical posturing, sign language, or written text. Professor Reese’s creative writing class assists me in exploring and developing the latter. The diversity of this class and the varied styles of writing encourage me respect the diversity of others and myself. Professor Reese and his creative writing class provide me with the knowledge and tools to venture into memories concealed deep in the recesses of my mind.

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MMC GRADUATION

The college program at FPC Yankton has been an ongoing partnership since 1989. Since 1991, when the first graduates earned their Associate degrees, more than 376 degrees and numerous undergraduate certificates have been conferred. At FPC Yankton, the students have the opportunity to participate, provided they have enough time to complete a degree program. They have the ability to earn associate degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, and Horticulture. Undergraduate certificates in Business Management and Fundamental Horticulture are obtainable for those students not here long enough for the full degree program.

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2015

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2012

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4 P.M. COUNT • 2011 4PM COUNT · 2010

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2010


4 PM Count

2009

4 P.M. Count

2008

215

4 P.M. COUNT


216

4 P.M. COUNT


4 P.M. COUNT

217


218

4 P.M. COUNT