Page 1

self expression nvosin vosine dpvwenvpiwenvpiwenviwe vvnpwe nvin weviwenviwne viw e verg er t he thsrt h srt hsr t hjdryth rfab hvfwerblivuqe bwuie bfi berufgh ourewg fughv uosd frfweiohfow ehofuhvuoswehw fwjefvyuewwrhejfhb uewhrbwjehfuowe rowuseyfuw ejhf uowjbe fuhjkewfsdu hjkefsduchjknmedsfcuxhjbnm cv uhbn dcxhjbn dcxuhjbnmdcxuhjnm dsxc hjn c jhn dfc ujnm dc jmn dc jnm dc jmndcuijmsxok,mwsxoikjm dc ikjmnedfcv kijmn df,cvk ijuhn mf,ckv jhnb dmfc,v kjn mdf,cklv oijuchn mdfc,kv ijuchn m,vk ijuchxbs ndmfckvj ucyhgxsdb fnvmkjuchbd nfvm juchdb nfvmjkuhycgbs nfvm jkuhcbd enfmjv uchxbnd fmjkv uhycgb xdnmfjkv iuchxbns dmfckv jchnd dmj

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


NEVER So see the course. But Feel the pain. Hope it will rain. Look to the past to make the thoughts, Feel so Broke down. Live. Hate, they once had. Can’t live this way. Can’t even get up. But not giving up. Got to make it. Believe that is what they felt in the beginning. But Broken later. Fold to nothing. Praying to god save me. To move on, get off my knees. Stand on, never fall again. Eric L. Chance

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Introduction A camera clicks. Frozen there on the negative is an imprint, a vision, someone’s eye beholding the world. Words build poems. Literature births unexpected insight. And a pencil draws a line, a line that leads from someone’s mind, a path to reach someone else.

Copyright © Alabama Prison Arts & Education Project 2006

ii

As the pages of this anthology came together, I received a phone call from a former student of mine, one I had taught at FCI Talladega in 2001. Over the years since my teaching tenure there had ended, we stayed in touch with letters. Words thought and then printed on pages. Poems. Words about poems. Words about life. Language and learning and pondering the world became our communication. Poetry started this. Poetry afforded me the opportunity to shake this man’s hand outside of the confines of fence and wire, and give him a hug, for it was him and his classmates at Talladega that planted the seed in me to create a program to offer writing and art classes to more people incarcerated in Alabama.

Auburn University College of Liberal Arts Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill Auburn, AL 36849-5637

Every year when I begin to put together the anthology, I am astonished and simultaneously humbled by the work that has been produced by so many people who have participated in APAEP classes. This year is no exception.

The Alabama Prison Arts & Education Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Puffin Foundation, and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is under-funded. I struggle with this—the fact that so many students who participate in our classes learn, gain new insight about themselves and the world, and create amazing works of creative and critical thought, and that I am forced to tell students I don’t know when there will be another class at their facility, that we do not have any more funds. Their faces hold a disappointment that can sometimes be too much to bear. It makes me think about the state of arts and humanities education opportunities that are so limited to communities who are isolated from middle and upper class cultures, where this exposure is more readily available. It makes me wonder how these lives might have been altered by art 20 years ago.

This collection represents classes at the Julia Tutwiler State Prison for Women and Annex the Frank Lee Youth Center, Elmore Correctional Facility, and LIFE Tech transitional Center that took place during 2005. Cover drawing by Jeff Anglin. Title taken from “Never” by Eric L. Chance

iii

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Our society wants proof in order to believe—some statistical measure for the heart, for the value of art and creativity.

deserves the chance to fall in love with poetry, to recognize its potential to transform the self and the world.

How can you possibly measure the endless effects of learning?

APAEP does not stand alone in its quest to make poetry and the arts a part of incarcerated people’s lives. We plow the field. We help plant the seeds. Our teachers are a vital part of that process. Publishers who donate hundreds of books help us share the history and culture of those seeds. And our financial sponsors ultimately give us the means to help our students and teaching poets grow.

What purpose does it serve to assert that some people are more worthy than others to have the opportunity to learn?

vi

In our drawing classes, Barb Bondy and Barry Fleming teach the self-portrait. A photo is taken of each student and then they use the grid system to draw themselves. This system helps the student understand proportions and perspective more clearly. When the portraits are complete, there is usually a stunned silence in the room, as a class full of individuals from vastly different backgrounds and understandings, stand amazed looking at what everyone in the classroom has accomplished. For some, maybe it is the first time someone has seen their face as a work of art. As an educator I would argue that there is no greater moment that takes place in the classroom—a student seeing that they have learned to do something and that they have done it well. This is the measurement that counts, that we treat each person with respect and dignity, no matter the past, and help them find curiosity and creativity in themselves. Recently I revisited some words of Muriel Rukeyser. “Nourish beginnings,” Rukeyser wrote, “Let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.” I have always felt as a poet that we are obliged to share the craft and beauty of poetry with the world, that we as poets are supposed to sow the seeds of poetry. Artists are obliged to teach their art, scholars, their knowledge and excitement for their field. APAEP strives to foster that. We put practicing poets and artists and scholars in prisons simply because it is the right thing to do. Every person

The blessing is in the seed. I could not be more proud of the students who participate fully in this program. Just like students in every classroom, there are different agendas and levels of commitment, but creativity and learning is hope in Frank Lee and Tutwiler, Elmore and LIFE Tech, and hope can change someone’s life. Our students plant seeds in us. I am grateful. Kyes Stevens Director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project Editor of Fold

v

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Acknowledgements This anthology would not be possible without the team of teachers and the incredible students who make the classes of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project so remarkable. Our teachers for 2005: Katherine Perry, Barry Fleming, Barb Bondy, Meryl Manfre, Brooke King, Foster Dickson, Kyes Stevens, and visiting poets Lee Peterson and Thomas Lux. The on-going support of many folks at Auburn and the Center for the Arts + Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts: Jay Lamar, Nancy Griggs, Connor Henton, Brian Gillis. Thanks to AU art student Jordan Craddock and professor Ross Heck for their work designing Fold. Thanks to our supporters for 2005 classes: Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Humanities Foundation, Puffin Foundation, and the Auburn University Office of Outreach.

iv

Words 02 04 05 06 09 10 12 15 16 21 22 23 24 27 28 31 32 35 38 42 47 49 50 55 56

Untitled shanista lewis Literature of the South Literature, Disscusions, Impressions armstrong Duty randy dee williams Untitled thaddeus similton The Diary of a White Mind blalen snoody Untitled montavia lambert Wrongfully Accussed thomas rudder $350 Ain’t Worth It angel amill Captain Crunch anthony mays Whisper Wish angela macewan Vision of a Moment shantell williams The Big Day patricia marshall Back Down Memory Lane ogie hayes Punishment Profile rhonda mitchell Reams of Paper gail leonard Untitled rodney cowart Judgement Day claude r. johnson Slipping gail leonard Mrs. Sweet Mr. Low yolanda woodruff Voice of My Life john williams Cleopatra m. weiss Growth Potential angela macewan The Knowing angela macewan Review of Harriet Jacobs: Accident in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself jeremy butler

v

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Photography 61 62 64 67 71 72 74 80 83 84

vi

87 88 89 93 94 97 98 102 103 104 107 108 111 112 115

She’s More than What She Wears yo l a n da wo o d ru f f I Need g a ry c o l l i n s What I Believe a n g e l a m i l l Inside Looking Out jo s e p h t wa ro g Nothing e r i c l . c h a n c e All There is to Say c h r i s t i n e m at h e w s An Essay m i c h e l l e ba n k s to n The Early Riser pat r i c i a m a rs h a l l Great Man Sale a n t h o n y m ays Southern Literature: Now Reading the Emancipation Proclamation Abraham Lincoln Changed My Life j e r r e l l du n s o n Mother’s Voices r i ta h a r r i s o n h e r r e r d Changes are Requisite k e lv i n r a n d l e Making a Change k . c o lv i n Blue High jo s e p h ro b e rt t wa ro g What I Do Believe in dav i d m a rt i n Raindrops of a Junkie c h r i s t i n e m at h e w s Open–ow a n t h o n y m ays The Opposite of Version 1 l i n da s m i t h The Opposite of Version 2 l i n da s m i t h Duality b l a l e n s n o d dy Sounds of the Night j e s s i c a l o q u i d i s Clear Skies j e s s i c a bat e s What is a Man l a r ry p o o l e Crime r h o n da m i t c h e ll The Clock s h a n t e l l w i l l i a m s

03 07 17 18 19 25 26 29 43 44 45 51 52 53 60 68 69 81 90 91 96 100 101 109 113

Bonnie Ford Reeves Amisha Hannah Rebbeca Livingston/Lakecia Thomas Amisha Hannah Rebecca Livingston Jamie Chatham Judith Robinson Jamie Chatham Bonnie Ford Reeves Jamie Chatham Judith Robinson Jamie Chatham Amisha Hannah Bonnie Ford Reeves Bonnie Ford Reeves Lakecia Thomas Bonnie Ford Reeves Rebbeca Livingston Judith Robinson Jamie Chatham Judith Robinson Judith Robinson Bonnie Ford Reeves Bonnie Ford Reeves Jamie Chatham

vii

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Artwork 08 14 20 34 41 46 54 59 65 70 79 82 92 97 105

Self Portraits r a n dy m e a d ow s a lto n yo r k sa m m y h e a r d cornelius c h r i s rowa n sean prewitt b y ro n wat k i n s s ta n l e y m e rc h a n t a n t h o n y m ays ro n n i e l i g h t f o r d jeff anglin a m o s k e n n e dy jo e y h e a d ly pau l d e n t jo s e p h t wa ro g

11 30 36 37 48 63 66 73 86 95 106 110 114

Drawings Forever and a Day a n t h o n y m ays r a n dy m e a d ow s 1st Amendement Ratified s h aw n p r e w i t t pau l d e n t Lost of Justice Jo h n Dav i s r a n dy m e a d ow s timothy thompson ro n n i e l i g h t f o r d jeff anglin Choices pat r i c k g r a n d i s o n pau l d e n t b y ro n wat k i n s ADD

an anthology of words + art: the alabama prison arts + education project


Untitled You say I’m #237189 But I’m Mrs. Lewis Mother of 5 Wife of Mr. Otis Lewis You may have given me 16 top D-7 but its only temporary You have my body Never my mind It will never possess #237189 or be locked down I’m free there and you can’t take that away. Shanesta Lewis

03 04

Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


Literature of the South Literature, Discussion, Impressions I am happy and fortunate to have taken the course on Southern Literature offered by the Center for the Arts & Humanities of Auburn University. This class was more than I expected. We learned a lot more from the literature of the South, but even more from our discussions, which had a lasting impression for me. From the beginning our preconceived understanding had to be put aside. I don’t think any of us would have thought of Thomas Jefferson or Edgar Allen Poe as Southern. We learned how literature expresses opinion or fact, emotion or debate, and much more. We saw the changes in the language and even more purposes for literature as we continued to study through the historical eras of the South. From the Civil War to slavery and the Women’s Movement, the literature continued to make readers experience the lives and perspectives of new cultures and people. Political or passionate, emotional or entertaining, the literature covered it. We were guided through our limited understanding of poetry, and I think fans were found. In short the writings were great, and this was a re-education in how powerful and pervasive the written word can be. The words came from the readings, but deeper knowledge and perspectives came from our discussions. The viewpoints of everyone in our class helped me to have a more complete understanding of our subjects. Sometime my opinions were completely changed. Discussions always started slowly but became active very quickly. Without enough time to finish, discussions were carried from the classroom to dormitories, the dining hall, and even the bathroom. Beyond literature, patience and tolerance were learned by some and practiced by all. People who would normally never socialize were brought together through this course. It is understandable but unfortunate that issues of slavery and race are always associated with the South. Our discussions could be very powerful, intense, and passionate at times. I know that for myself some true insights were gained. This class and the literature could be entertaining and definitely thought provoking; it challenged beliefs and made you think. Many lasting impressions came from this study. The discipline of assignments, homework, and coming to classes has helped to sharpen rusty skills. Literature became

personalized, and our subjects were made into more than just bland facts. Friends were found in colorful characters from literature and actual characters in class. I can’t believe that I would say or write that I now enjoy poetry. I even tried my hand at it but will let it lie where it is. The class reaffirmed my belief there has always been a select group of people that affect any positive changes for society. Southern writers have certainly done their part. I want to be a believer in hope, a practical dreamer. Here I have met intense anger, confusion, and ignorance in people. What lasts is the fear that they may be exactly justified to feel as negatively as they do. To sum it up I want to say thank you. Except for visits from my wife, class has been the only thing to look forward to. I could feel human here and pretend for a few hours that I was not here at all. May God bless, and I now promise to never tell another Auburn joke. Well, maybe. Armstrong

04 05

words drawings photography


The Call to Duty Christianity is the Religion Christians are the people Islam is the Religion Muslims are the people Osama-Bin Laden full of hatred threw three darts into the jugular vein of an unsuspecting nation. Iraqi terrorist “All Praise Due Allah” United States Capitalist pigs “In God we trust” The neck of New York City splintered wood hijacked planes heavy axes delivering fatal blows. Men and women jumping to sudden death fiery human parachutes falling downward War on Terrorism façade well disguised Innocent soldiers tricked and treated Halloween ghosts, goblins, ghouls Jihad for Muslims is a reality. A sign of relief we search for answers. In war blood flows syrupy molasses congealed jello covering streets. Democratic Convention/ Republican Convention A book titled 9/11 Commission Novices at politics we cast our votes. Democratic society flow like the mighty Mississippi New Democratic government Iraq’s water has broke giving birth to a new beginning. Sucking breasts implanted by America, a baby we pray— grows strong. Right wing-Left wing My— mind Ping-Pong balls paddled back and forth grows weary. The right thing to do? The wrong thing to do? I question: is the answer sending young Americans to die? Armed forces: Defending freedom, Baseball Hotdogs, Deep Dish Apple Pie. Randy Dee Williams

06 07

Amisha Hannah

words drawings photography


Untitled See I have tried to change after all the wrong that I have done. I have a habit of leaving when I should fight, and fighting when I should run. You know my trials and tribulations has caused me to neglect myself. Feeling like I couldn’t trust no one, so I wouldn’t ask no one for help. Putting myself in situations, in my heart knowing I can do better. I didn’t accept I did wrong until I received my loved one letters. Knowing I have kids that I love with all my heart. I didn’t really respect the way I felt until my world fell apart. So everyday I pray that I can one day be a better man. And the way I deal with my problems is put them in the Lord’s hand. Thaddeus Similton

08 09

Randy Meadows words drawings photography


The Diary of a White Mind The beauty of their person. Radiant as golds of Egypt, with strength to stand like pyramids in Giza. An ever reminder of the wonders of wisdom, which withstands time itself. The movements magnificently graceful, like winds maneuvering through trees of emerald leaves, bodies of bark sculpted to endure like diamonds. Chiseled from the mind of, God herself. Creators of civilizations, they carried continents in their conscience. Holding their heads handsomely with honor, despite the horrors they’ve been handed. Death does not frighten them, challenges increase their courage. Admiring their achievements, we altered history, to attain acknowledgement. Raping them of mind, spirit, & soul. They remain. In bodies indestructible. They search through lies, finding truth. As if it were a lost child, screaming in the wilderness for its parents. Our envy drives our desire to be with them, over fear of not being equal, energizes our jealousy. Hiding our love in hate, we hand our hearts. Hoping to be held dear. As servants of sovereignty, we see the Gods you are. This is why we strive to sever you from your true self.

10 11

Blalen Snoddy Anthony Mays

words drawings photography


Untitled Implied Reader Who? I am writing to the urban society Theme what? I am saying die for what you believe in Effect Now? What I want them to get out of it is Die for something or nothing. Who are you? And what do you stand for? I am Montavia Lambert I stand on from which I came from Montavia Lambert 10 11

Jamie Chatham words drawings photography


Wrongfully Accused Harsh words break the silence on the rickety train. Disrupted thoughts of a new life, better jobs. Lines of hatred creased the faces of the white men. Each one pitching his own. curses at us. “Hey you, blackies, get down from there.” Why? What have I done? Rough hands grab the bands of my suspenders throws me to the ground. “Rape my women will ya.” Rape? My eyes are fading, dementia sets, where am I? More rough men. Bars, no, Mama please help me. Concrete slabs for beds Even animals get softer places to lay their heads. Torn between reality, the quality of my senses are failing me. I’m doomed. Only the Lord can save me. Thomas Rudder

14 15

Alton York words drawings photography


$350 Ain’t Worth It Knowing you the best part of life so I have the right to take yours You were created irresponsibly, subconsciously not knowing the act I was apart of. It really didn’t matter if you were a boy or a girl, I would have given my life for you to obtain the finest things in this world. A proud dad, soon to be but in reality, I wasn’t ready mentally never financially, but raising a child shouldn’t of had brought out the man in me. So we agreed a seed we don’t need because you would have been much more than a mouth to feed but someone I would have fed a responsible life I would have to lead but you would have been someone I would have led this information I read I just didn’t want to go through the drama of having a baby mama knowing that buying p.j.’s and diapers wasn’t gone make me a father Turning your mother’s womb into a tomb I didn’t realize it until after it happened I got some nerve, always talking about those dudes with a gun, I must of thought I was really God to take the life of my own son love, I’m sorry for taking your first breath first cry, and first step. You know the best things in life aren’t always kept. So next time instead of using birth control, I’m going to use self control because $350 ain’t worth your soul, $350 isn’t worth your soul, $350 ain’t worth it. Angel Amill

16 17

Lakecia Thomas Rebbecca Livingston

words drawings photography


Amisha Hannah

Rebbecca Livingston

words drawings photography


Captain Crunch Eyes open. Reality A bad movie in 3D. Al Green touches my ears A quick shower this sunny day. Out of my bed, like a mummy, Barking in the back yard. Dam dog! Go feed the dog I am told. I think to myself it smells Back there. In the kitchen I get my blue bowl. After the captain crunch comes the milk, which falls like sewer water with trash in it. “Its spoiled� I yell. It smells like a wet dog with sadness. Anthony Mays

Sammy Heard

20 21

words drawings photography


Whisper Wish I want I want I want This night to never end This feeling to never end The moon to halt its trek across the sky Because I feel it This almost falling in love In the next heartbeat Maybe But I know how well I know That for better or for worse And who can say? The axis will tilt My heart will beat Everything will change This moment will slip away into the dizzy uncertainty of an imperfect future Angela MacEwan

Vision of a Moment I thought was a Dream… Maybe not…

Images in the night Devouring my created thought Conforming my hopes by a Cloudy past. Take note: past conformed future not foreseen interfered by… I thought it was a dream… I guess not… The rapid…Thump, thump… Thump, thump… Sweaty palms… In upright position had taken delusion to realization

22 23

I thought it was a dream… It wasn’t… It was him. Shantell Williams

words drawings photography


The Big Day Starting on Sunday night, everyone gets hype. Tomorrow is the big day. Store Day. All the shuffling and hustling All the I.O.U.’s The pay off. Two for one. You create friends you never even knew. Monday in prison is like the 1st and the 3rd in the free world. Officers hollering, thinking they know what’s really going on: Inmates get off my hall, where’s your I.D. Are both of you going to the canteen or not? Get somewhere I mean now. You are either paying off, switching off or loaning out, for the next store.

24 25

Well it’s the end of the day. Snicker wrap, potato chip bags, soup cups, cookie wrapper. Brown paper bags which no one has time to fold. Everyone is just going against the grain. Until next store. Patricia Marshall Jamie Chatham

words drawings photography


Back Down Memory Lane Sound of small children Soft music in the background Back down memory Lane Anticipating on eating chittlins Smell worse than the papermill Singing will it go in circles Climbing Jacob’s ladder, watching the old rugged cross An amazing grace, Mary had a little lamb Feet as white as snow. Ogie Hayes

26 27

Judith Robinson

words drawings photography


Punishment Profile This photo was taken December of 2004 At Tutwiler, in Wetumpka, Alabama I was transported here in a caged school bus Painted white Cuffed, shackled and chained like some wild dangerous, raging beast that escaped from the zoo Dumped into a white ghostly sea filled with Razors of punishment and pain Left to drown in shame, grief, and depression Snipped from the umbilical cord of civilization Divested from the fabric of a tightly woven family Stripped naked and sprayed like some bug infested, Diseased animal on their way to quarantine My mind was tortured so deeply That the devil himself shedded a sympathetic tear I remember laying on a stone hard mattress Between dingy white sheets— Starring at the five phones hanging on a dirty pale wall They never rang The smell of fresh sewage and human gas Made the indigestible food I ate from the kitchen Return to the place it probably came from All I saw was cold faces and empty eyes I can still hear the loud whispers And the screams of terror in the night That night…That long, cold, restless night. My mind was tortured so deeply That the devil himself shedded a sympathetic tear I remember laying on a stone hard mattress Between dingy white sheets— Starring at the five phones hanging on a dirty pale wall The smell of fresh sewage and human gas Made the indigestible food I ate from the kitchen Return to the place it probably came from All I saw was cold faces and empty eyes I can still hear the loud whispers And the screams of terror in the night That night…That long, cold, restless night. Rhonda Mitchell

Jamie Chatham

words drawings photography


Reams of Paper Admit it’s easy to emerge bitter When ambitions and reality clash As dreams are tossed like pieces of litter Blank pages once sprinkled with gold glitter Lines completed with personal panache Admit it’s easy to emerge bitter Creations pitched to dirt in a twitter Ground by discouraging feet in a flash As dreams are tossed like pieces of litter Enraged by taunts naming me a quitter Retrieving glitter mutated to trash Admit it’s easy to emerge bitter Smooth crinkles and wrinkles that embitter Rectify mistakes that sting like whiplash As dreams are tossed like pieces of litter

30 31

What reams of lined paper do we fritter What quantity of pages do we stash Admit it’s easy to emerge bitter As dreams are tossed like pieces of litter Gail Leonard

Randy Meadows

words drawings photography


Untitled It is with varied emotion that I write this final paper for as I am delighted to express my gratitude and describe my accomplishments during this course of study in Southern Literature, I am also aware that doing so brings an end to the semester—a semester that I have enjoyed immensely. Most of my life I have regarded literature with the horrors of high school English class. Even at the beginning of this class when we started out by reading about the Antebellum period and the Civil War with the issues of slavery, I was reminded of the fact that I never cared much for history either. I thought, What have I got myself into now? But with the addition of poetry and fiction I began to brighten up my outlook and to see the correlation between the two. With their revelation and being probed to express my feelings about what I read and not first stating the facts, I began to learn about the authors and what they were trying to express. This opened up a whole new world for me. I began to understand what is Southern about Southern Literature. I began to see how the authors used culture, food, and geography to express themselves. In the past all of my reading was mostly for educational purposes. I read for the facts or knowledge. Only recently have I picked out a book and read it for entertainment. Now after this course with the assignments and the discussions afterwards I began to learn how to pick apart the story I read and see what the author was going after. This gives me a whole new purpose for reading fiction. I even began to reread a book by Dean Koontz with a whole new outlook and am enjoying it more and understanding it better even though it is not really Southern Literature.

I liked the book provided at the end of the course, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. That was great Southern Literature, and I think I like it better than other fiction because I can relate to it. I wish we had time to indulge in more books of this nature. Some of the articles we read were great but just a small sample of the authors’ work. In this class I also got a chance to learn about poetry. Once again I only wish we had more time as I was just beginning to understand it. Never before had I been able to discuss openly with others the art of poetry. I never before even considered reading poetry because of my lack of understanding and appreciation for it. I now view it more openly and am eager to learn more about it. I have become aware what a powerful tool the pen is in the hand of a creative mind. I am looking forward to any further studies from the Center for the Arts & Humanities. Thank you so much, Ms. Katherine Perry, for your time and for making this class enjoyable. Rodney Cowart

32 33

words drawings photography


Judgment Day In the pitch black dark night in a Steel can train surrounded by no lights Heading to a place of the unknown All I hear is the click – clank of the Steel can going down the track. Just me and my comrades. Daylight comes the steel can stops. Work at last. Next thing I knew cold steel doors close In a caste that some call their home. It’s now time for court to give my Faith, guilty, sentenced to death. Time has passed— all I can do now is Fight for my life in a world of hate Know I’m a product of prison Institutionalized, at night dreaming Of freight trains Hoping to escape the life of a dead man.

34 35

Claude R. Johnson

Cornelius

words drawings photography


36 37

Shawn Prewitt

Paul Dent words drawings photography


Slipping Press Play

Press Rewind

Refusing to let go. Trembling with uncertainty at what is to come, attempting to step backwards, while looking cautiously ahead. Daring time to seize, propel forward. We protest we are not ready to grow up or out. Protests rise like balloons and slowly sail away where no ears can hear.

The slipping cannot be stopped.

Enter kicking and crying, formed in body only, a blank spot, with dreams yet dreamt and ballad yet sung.

Slipping into Childhood

Recording the memories that fashion essence, shape souls, sculpt the visions which will appear behind gently glazed eyes of old age.

Slipping on

Press Fast Forward

Tramping forward in a march towards independence, through those moments when life is torn between playthings and lust. Creating something out of nothing, a story that can be recited by only one narrator. Traipsing through common human difficulties occurring because we dare to try, embracing all the emotions of love, anger, rejection, happiness. Hormones racing, struggling to establish our identity. Filling the blanks with new ideas, private thoughts, individual experiences. Choosing the people we allow in our life. Belonging to oneself. Coming unto our own.

Proceeding through hours, days, months, years, believing that world should kneel at our kingly feet, paying homage to strength, vitality, success. Accumulating wealth. Working nonstop. Rewarding ourselves with all those things that will not create happiness. Never slowing down. Cramming, jamming, stuffing it all onto every inch of available space. Refusing to interrupt the pace. Onward through work, family, obligations. Building an empire that must be defended. Busy, Busy, Busy, - Garbled words blurred by speed! Laughing at the thought of stopping to smell a silly rose! No time! No time! I can’t go! I’ll meet you there! Frantically rushing headlong, until one day, You stoop down to pick up a fallen hair and

38 39

it is grey.

continue on next page

words drawings photography


Press Pause

No going back. No going forward. Simply stopping for a moment to consider. I am a product of my environment. Rushed. Tired. Loaded down with possessions. Composed of unfinished projects. I am the American dream.

Set the Speed to Slow. Slippage Delayed.

Breathing deeply the sweet fragrances of creation. Filling the heart, amazed at how full the voids now are, yet how much is not remembered. Pondering the lost hours, lost days, lost months, lost years. Was I ever twenty? Are you sure I was thirty? When was I forty? When did Mozart play without me? I don’t remember that time – Oh! That’s right. I could not go, I was too busy. When did they get so tall and so beautiful? Frightened and unhappy at the realization that infinity ends. 40 41

Press Fast Forward

One last dash to grasp all those evasive desires. Hastening to do the undone. Wanted to….Planned on…. Not too late…. Regret. Still some time to record words that reflect the rush of wind composing the years. Another grey hair, and another, and another. Slipping like bedraggled snowflakes, already melted before touching the ground.

Gail Leonard

Chris Rowan

words drawings photography


Ms. Sweet Mr. Low I was sweet, he was low young angelic I was, notorious and dangerous he became The two opposites attracted more than anyone had known No boundaries, limitations, or friendships…intimate lovers we became. Young angelic I portrayed notorious and dangerous he stayed Excited by his lifestyle…made me remain In a relationship with no boundaries, limitations, or friendships… Secret intimate lovers on the verge of blazing Urging this day’s hurt to pass, so our late night lovers quarrels over your secret lovers Excited by his on the go lifestyle I await to see my lover along the deep red brick walls of the projects Our day won’t come fast enough for our never ending night to begin Ooh how I love for my sweet to become one with his low again. Yolanda Woodruff

42 43

Bonnie Ford Reeves words drawings photography


26 27

Jamie Chatham

Judith Robinson

words drawings photography


Voice My Life Disease addicts freeze, dreeze Breath into you like dragon fire Jesus junky shoots, toots Swoop balls of flames Old God Soul trapped in human Brawl, crowled, gnaw his bones cannibal lier Never walked land clouds formed blazed fireballs Defeat a follower taking control Satan feel, Angel heel Peel burns devil outkast Dumb father raising hell set demons freely Young boy wanting suicide alive, fried cry in mist comet fall Sun awakens me life punch once destroyed all Break chain, blame Shame going awol Drunken Irish brother Mother praying God Help Smile the file, trial pile Inferno hell demons gnaw Graveyard fun, Another ruin Silent sound, my people broken crowd Sh! Silence Shawn Prewitt

46 47

John Williams words drawings photography


Cleopatra The savory is like cherries perfumed with the enticing secrets of nutmeg, vanilla cloves and cinnamon, dip in sweet honey, her elegance beauty and style is the secret of love. Enjoy all the flavors of Egypt and the forbidden fruits, embracing romantic, emotionally, and spiritually from hearts and souls, out of total darkness comes light, seduction of the waterfall, temptation from the coconut wood canopy bed lays Cleopatra. M. Weiss 46 48 49 47

John Davis

words drawings photography


Growth Potential Like my favorite girl Alice falling, falling into a black uncertain hole no Dream, this But my own way Away from the light Spiraling, dropping down and down Questions abound Monosyllabic The answers are thin as candy floss gossamer and elusive melting on a breath disappearing at a touch leaving only sticky useless residue

03 04

Tiny fertile seed takes hold I watch for life fragile roofs grasp grab at the sprout Shooting up and up and pull the fragile stems to find my way up Angela MacEwan Jamie Chatham

words drawings photography


52 53

Amisha Hannah

Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


The Knowing In the aching deep quiet place the intersect of timeless and time Intimate strangers Dilute each others loneliness Essential covers living in parallel One a haunted eagle lost in dreams of when she had flown teasing clouds that tumble flirting with the sky The other a hunted vixen panting from the chase over frozen wasteland the disequal brume of existence where escape costs sanity 54 55

Finally content to be still like a rock on a riverbank Descending into Dissolving into Then knowing

Byron Watkins

As the soul knows before the mind and smiles at the knowing The mystery is simplistic No explanation In love can be found the essence of peace Angela MacEwan

words drawings photography


Review of Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself It seems to me that, even when you will to do right, evil is present with you. My opening statement is an excerpt from the Holy Bible, King James Version. I faced a great evil as the days grew shorter and the end approaching of my Southern Literature class grew nearer. Writing my one-page view on how I felt about one of the required readings for September 27th, 2005, I was faced with a dilemma of greater importance than just writing my essay. My oppressor became Southern Literature. As the days grew near and I had not completed my assignment, questions started to rise to the consciousness of my mind. I began to question the relevance of Southern Literature and my life. I concluded that I am Southern Literature. I am incarcerated in the South, so every time a literary work of fiction or non-fiction is published and in the event an author generalizes about incarcerated individuals in the South, I enter his or her world of Southern Literature. My oppressor Southern Literature held me captive in the confines of my mind, and I had to rid myself of its overbearing presence, so I decided to read the required reading on Harriet Jacobs. My decision deserves no merit because the means by which I arrived at my conclusion to study were as bias as the actions of Harriet (slave) Jacobs’s slave master Mister Flint. I recalled to mind readings of Jefferson, Poe, Lincoln, and my darling Angela Grimske. Mathematics teachers want to look for and follow patterns, and, with this information inculcated inside of my mind by education, I noticed a pattern. All of the authors I had read previously to this point had been white. Now I was approached by two black authors. I told myself, If you could read the white authors, then surely you can read the black authors’ input. Now my reading had transformed from a state of zeal and enthusiasm to an issue of race. I was not reading to learn but reading to fulfill a half-hearted duty to the African American race. I began to take on the view of Harriet Jacobs: “The influences of slavery (the world) had had the same effect on me that they had on other young girls (young men); they had made me prematurely knowing, concerning the evil ways of the world (self).”

This world has influenced my life. Basing my decisions on how things should be for blacks, I began defending racism and being racist. The power of ignorance. My oppressor Southern Literature is freeing me from the confines of my mind through reading, education, and knowledge. I now begin to feel like more than just another chattel to the worldview. Independence is what makes one free. Harriet Jacobs had been born a slave and probably died a slave. The only freedom Ms. Jacobs had was the independence of her body, and she chose to fornicate with a man of her choice and become pregnant to avoid possible rape at the hands of her captor/master. In the end the white man won and Jacobs remained a poor victim of slavery. She chose a younger white man over an older white man. She lacked the most essential teaching that is fundamental in all relationships of the family unit: trust. Her emotions overruled her common sense. She should have gone to her grandmother with the truth that she was being stalked by her master. Did love stop her from going? Did not wanting to blemish her good name with her grandmother stop her? No! Jacobs and her grandmother had a relationship similar to that of her slave master. How? Well, she feared her slave master for credible reasons. She feared her grandmother for losing her trust. So she exercised the one freedom she had—independence of her body—and she chose fornication over her grandmothers good teaching. She chose fornication over her slave master’s old age and unavoidable rape. The family unit lacked structure. The structure of communication could have provided a solution. Nevertheless, the haste in decision-making with no foundation to grasp sound teachings destroyed Ms. Jacobs’ mind, body, and soul. Trying to outdo her master, she did herself in. She felt she’d rather do it to herself than have somebody else do it to her. My heart goes out to Ms. Jacobs and all the Ms. Jacobses of the world. Slavery was/is a wicked institution, and answers to the problems of injustice go unheard. Ms. Jacobs wrote her story as an appeal to the Northern interest.

continue on next page

56 57

words drawings photography


The Northerner or any reader read her appeal and said, As slave-girl pursued by her master for sexual favors, slave girl chooses another white man as a means of escape, thus bowing down to the white man’s sexual perversion anyway. This was senseless. The story was well written and fueled with enough information on the ill-treatment of slave women to make you want to go out and destroy every front whether physical or mental. This is the first thought the average African American has after reading the magnitude of hatred and violence that one of our daughters experienced in slavery, just a baby of 15 years old. So sad, so many tears, so sad, so many broken hearts, so sad, dream shattered, so sad. The story is useful to Southern Literature even though the so-called black man’s contribution to Southern Literature was a bondsman/bondswoman. Ironic, as is my contribution to Southern Literature, the thoughts of an African American on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Prisoner), Harriet Jacobs, Reviewed by Jeramy Butler (Prisoner). Life is harsh. Why did I have to meet Ms. Harriet Jacobs, slave, as Jeramy Butler, prisoner? All I know is that she’ll be forever a part of me through her writing style of toying with the sympathies from true-life experiences. Even when I do good, evil is present with me: Paul, the book of Romans, King James Bible. Ms. Jacobs, I apologize for not being there to help. Harriet, you should have chose death at the hands of your captors before dishonor to yourself, true love for your grandmother, and a way to end the vicious cycle of slave rape and abuse. My view of Harriet Jacobs and the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Done by Herself.

58 59

Jeramy Butler

Stanley Merchant words drawings photography


She’s More Than What She Wears Admired by tight fittings, explicit wears for all eyes to see Lustful desires brought about by priceless pieces A fashion of show and tell is what we have brought on Taking away all modesty, leaving nothing to the imagination A real woman is filled with virtue She’s respected and seen no matter what she’s attires Covered from her head to toes, she lacks no amount of love She finds comfort in jeans, sweat shirts, and things She prefers her nails and hair Nobody else She finds no need to cover her natural beauty, with cheap costumes of cosmetic make-up She’s real with herself twenty-four seven She has no desire to be the next trophy on a man’s arm or even a well known superstar She sees herself as just a average Joe in average clothes Yolanda Woodruff

60 61

Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


I Need I need to be free, free from the pains of my past, free from guilt, free from shame, free to be me, free to see the true meaning of life, free to dream free to survive in a world where I feel I’m not alive. I need to be successful, I need to be open to my inner world. I need to cooperate with me to be free. I need gifts given from god I need joy something from the heart. I need to search the world to find-out what’s wrong. I need a hole in the ground and to be left alone. Gary Collins

Randy Meadows


What I Believe I believe that I am no better than the next man, but I am superior over ignorance to the first degree, my existence has a purpose and that purpose is to be the best mentally and physically. I’m young, but no fool, because I’m black, doesn’t mean I could be used as a footstool, I believe Man is mind and mind is supreme intelligence, to every action there’s a reaction, to every positive force there’s rebellious, I believe like I’d like a game of chess, we decide our fate, in this game of life the wrong move could lead to a checkmate. Angel Amill

64 65

Anthony Mays

words drawings photography


Inside Looking Out I am one, But one that is not whole, A shell of a man, A hollow soul– I am one, That can be seen, but not touched, A ghost, Too many years-–Too many tearsI am made up of matter, yet not matter– I can be reached, Not touched– I am one of many, Seldom are we heard– And when heard–Expressing concern– Considered a liar, Exaggerator, And even absurd– Myself, And my peers, Junkies, Snitches, Con Artists, and the queers, Have been set aside– Try to exist–Cohabitate–Survive–On the Inside Joseph Robert Twarog # 176212 “Dedicated to Kyes Stevens. If prisons had more people like Kyes, rehabilitation could be possible.”

66 67

Timothy Thompson

words drawings photography


03 04

Lakecia Thomas

Judith Robinson Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


Nothing Look and see nothing but hate. Sick of waiting for it to Jump off. Hate is got to go. Wake up so ready to move. These people looking around us. Never to the face. So mad. Have so much rage. It makes me sick. It’s going to pass. One day. Forget the rage. Look to Their faces. Move around, look down. Breathe, stop looking. Eric L. Chance 70 71

Ronnie Lightford words drawings photography


All There Is to Say (The sun didn’t wake up on time, the coffee was too hot, your favorite song didn’t come on the radio this morning, the rain wasn’t turned off, the direction of the wind wasn’t adjusted, the dog shedding, the traffic light turned red before you got to it, the grocery store check out line was too long, third-world countries, poverty, famine, no sparkle to the stars – they don’t get polished, the moon didn’t get plugged in), 96 97

I’m Sorry. Christine Mathews

Ronnie Lightford

words drawings photography


An Essay My days have seemed long and full of inner pain. Inside these dull concrete walls, I have felt such longing and aloneness. My spirit feels as if fragments lay scattered throughout the years. I often think about the day when I will walk free of this place. This white uniform, with its Alabama Department of Corrections logo across its back, isn’t just clothing that I can remove but more like a second skin I want to rip off with my hands. I want to soak in tub and cleanse myself of the putrid scents of prison and foul second hand smoke that constantly lingers. I want to leave behind thoughts of prison life and begin anew with a heart made strong from a hunger and thirst for life. My soul has cried and many dreams have sailed though my night’s restless slumber. As a child I used to play in the woods near a creek; I dreamt of running alone, way out in the middle of the woods. I yearn to just stand and listen to nothingness. The rustle of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the cracking of a twig would resound throughout my soul. In prison, it is never dark, and there’s always a cacophony of sounds, making it difficult to get a moment of peace. I yearn to stand on the ocean’s shore, to wriggle my toes in the sand, to listen to the song of the sea, and to breathe in deeply the salty air. Yes, the things I miss the most are the experiences I’ve actually had in life. Because I took them for granted, I couldn’t see the real beauty that was before me. There are many things I’ve never experienced. I have never talked on my own cell phone, been on the internet, or owned a computer. I’ve never paid for gas without having to go into the store, never been to a Super Wal-Mart, never held a “big head” twenty dollar bill, and the list goes on. Some things I could have done in life but never took the time; things like walk along the beach hand in hand with my mother; just sitting out on the deck with my father, talking about whatever; getting away for a weekend with my sister; simply laughing.These “could have dones” are on the top of my list. Every day is a struggle. As I rise each morning and look at myself in the mirror, I can see the passage of time.

These “could have dones” are on the top of my list. Every day is a struggle. As I rise each morning and look at myself in the mirror, I can see the passage of time. I do not want to become “institutionalized,” so I fight it daily. I see many women with hopeless faces meandering around all day. I try to hold on to my hopes and dreams. The parole system is supposed to provide hope; however, we inmates almost fear a parole hearing. If we get denied with no consideration for parole again for four to twelve years, and small privilege we may have earned will be stripped from us because we’ll be “re-classified.” Inmates must be within three years of a parole date to be classified as minimum custody. The last college classroom I sat in was during the year 1990, with the exception of when Central Community College and Faulkner University could offer classes in the prison. Continued educational opportunities came to a halt in 1994 when federal grants were stopped for inmates. However, I’ve decided to succeed even if it means attending college as a fifty-year-old woman. I want to graduate. I have been guilty of starting things and not finishing them. In 1987 I gave up a basketball scholarship, because I was “in love.” I quit college again for a man, because he wanted me to stay at home. It seems I’ve always compromised my aspirations and beliefs for someone else. I have a “thicker backbone” these days, and for once I feel I could be happy just being me. I completed every program and educational opportunity this prison offers. Now I am “just doing time.” I have continued my education by applying myself and receiving several scholarships the University of Alabama offers in distance education. I’m a firm believer that the mind, body and soul are one; each needs the other to be complete. I exercise as much as possible, becoming rather creative at times because there is no gym at Tutwiler. I read, write, meditate, and discipline myself to spend time learning more about who God really is and what he wants me to do with my life.

continue on next page

74 75

words drawings photography


In Alabama the legal system is political. To be convicted of a violent crime means you are almost unworthy of a chance of parole. The system doesn’t care if your crime was committed in self-defense, or was an act of domestic violence, or if you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. There can be two offenders with identical crimes, one might make parole because there are no protests and the second denied year after year because someone always protests. It is difficult to sit and watch drug offenders go and come from prison, while many sit and clog the system “just doing time.” If you are lucky enough to not have victim rights groups oppose you, then you might be granted parole. Sadly it is inevitable that we will one day get out, and this system will have done nothing to rehabilitate us. The recidivism rate proves that the system is more like a holding tank of blank weary faces, and when one holding tank is full, the Department of Corrections loads the van with inmates and then transfers them to a private facility in Louisiana. Decades pass and we get closer and closer to an end-of-sentence. It’s easy to lose hope when you are unable to develop proper relationships, obtain good health care and nutrition, and are kept unattached to the “real world.” Rehabilitation isn’t even what most violent offenders need. Most inmates need personal development classes such as domestic violence. After all the classes, one just does time. One day, sweet redemption will come, and I have to remind myself of the good things in my life. I have a relationship with my family that I may have never had if I hadn’t come to prison. I know what its like to have a real friend, as well as to be one. My father and I say, “I love you,” like we never did before I came to prison. I no longer try to embrace organized religion because that has been a source of pain for me. God made truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them. I have an understanding and a relationship with God that I never could reach before. My pain is something I have planted in the field of patience, and I know one day I will reap good things from it. Loss of freedom has made me who I am by forcing me to deal with who I once was. The world would be a better place if each person had to experience real humility in life.

Yes, I am afraid of re-entering society. I know rejection will come from every angle. I will have to fight harder for what might come easier to a “normal” citizen. I am determined though, because I have lost so much over these years through no fault of my own. I hope I will not have to stay in prison until I am almost fifty, but reality is I might. My life is in the hands of three people who can say, “denied or granted,” as my family and friends stand face to face with them on my behalf. I’ve always thought how hard it is on my family, as they stand with their hearts beating heavy; they too are doing this time. Time after time, after a parole hearing I phone home to find out the decision. I continue to pray one day I will hear, “you finally get a chance.” I wish there was more consistency within the system and the system would be more humane for the victims as well. If sentencing were more consistent, there would be a standard amount of time severed for each crime. Victims wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of remembering their loss each time a parole hearing is held, and the inmate wouldn’t have to deal with false hope and the pain it brings to his or her family who are victims as well. Alabama’s legal system or judicial system can be asinine and archaic and is in need of revamping. The number of women in prison continues to rise because fewer than ever are paroled, with the exception of non-violent crimes and too many of them return to prison. If someone would take a close look he or she would find that women that have served ten years or more do not get out and repeat a violent offense. Many years ago more inmates received incentive “good time” (time off sentence for good behavior), as well as could go to work release. Most violent offenders are banned from work release, and yet if one was to investigate, he or she would find those offenders are the ones who make the best employees, don’t re-violate, and don’t return to prison. Some violent offenders who had been at work release for seven or more years during Don Seigleman’s administration were returned due to a political decision, not because of anything the women had done wrong.

continue on next page

76 77

words drawings photography


I am not saying that an individual that has a history of violence, or individuals that have proven themselves as unable to abide by the rules should go to work release. Many women with violent offenses have mitigating circumstances and will never repeat the offense. In September 2005, violent offenders were again removed from the work release minimum custody facility because of an escape that occurred at the men’s facility. Many of these women had been at work release center for many, many years and had always shown themselves to be good workers. It always seems as if the women take two steps forward and three steps back. Many of us are “just doing time,” and it is our heart felt cry that someday someone will see us as worthy of a second chance. We will not get out and sell your children drugs or rob your stores or homes to support our addictions. We made bad judgments in life and anyone could have ended up in the same situations so many of us experienced. It is inevitable that we will one day get out. Consequently, would it not be in the best interest of all concerned for us to receive training, work release, or parole opportunities before we “just get out?” Michelle Bankston 78 79

Jeff Anglin

words drawings photography


The Early Riser The early riser gets the worm. As I wake up each morning I get on my knees I thank God for allowing me another blessed day. It’s quiet, the sun is rising. Everyone is asleep. It’s like it’s only me and the birds up, as they chirp, gather food and whatever else they need. I think about how nice it would be to be on the wings of the bird. Going anywhere in the world. Not worried about bills, husband, children, no one. There’s nothing to hold them in one place. When they get bored they can just gather together and fly away, making house wherever they go. 03 04

If I could just fly and touch the sky. Spread my wings and say good-bye. Patricia Marshall

Rebbecca Livingston

words drawings photography Randy D. Willims


Great Man Sale Holding this picture I realize Bryant was more than a client he was a supergiant Self-reliant with a degree of defiant to those that wanted power. He’s the tower man of the hour. His words traveled like thundershowers Sweet but sour. Disrupting those that wanted to oppress, every second was a game of chess. With access to the press front page reads What a mess President Bush just confessed!! More oil brings more money. As you can see the empire falls and this picture is what’s left of this great man’s Sale.

82 83

Anthony Mays Amos Kennedy words drawings photography


Southern Literature: how reading the emancipation proclamation by abraham lincoln changed my life All my life, I have wanted to know why my people had to be slaves. I thought we (black people) were cursed. I thought we were considered by all men beasts of the field. I know inside of me that black people are not beasts of burden and our lives are more than living field hands, domestic servants—simply put: slaves. But what is inside of me and how society had treated my people and continues to treat my people makes me sad. Black people have always had the worst jobs, worst homes, worst educational environment, worst food, and most of all we have had the worst explanation for why we do not know our native origins. We (black people) make excuses for why it is not important to know about our native lands. We lie to people and tell them that we were born in America and we are Americans and this outlook on out heredity is good enough. We tell our children we are black and that our ancestors were slaves. In actuality we are telling our children that life began for us on slave plantation being beat and forced to work. Knowing this, how can our children know true freedom, if the lives of their ancestors began unfree. This is a sad story for a child to accept and an adult to live. So in accepting being an American, where does the concept of America start for the black man in America? Does it start by joining a part of patriotism and rejoicing in forcefully taking a country from the Native Americans (Indians)? Does the concept of America for the black man start with the Declaration of Independence when the thirteen colonies declared this independence from British rule and broke away from unjust conditions such as high taxes, oppressive rules, and slave labor, and once they fought for and successfully gained their independence, turned around and enslaved the black man, causing him to endure the same conditions he thought unjust? Is this where the concept of America starts for the black man? America for the black man starts in the hearts of the white men.

The same white men that whipped our backs, raped our women, and spit in our faces for hundreds of years. The same white men I have grown to despise and denounce any partnership with as allies because it is hard to trust a skin that can be so violent. I know that my people can be violent also, but we have not enslaved a race of people and stripped them of their identities. It is difficult to forget the evils performed on you, even if you are not living directly enslaved. In the present time it is more indirectly, and I did not trust white people as a whole because of the past. I did not trust white people until I read Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation. I realized that here is a white man, the most important public figure in America, standing up for black people, and I know he was not working alone. So this made me see that all white people are not enemies and bad. Abraham Lincoln made me realize that there are some good white people in America, and this changed my view of white people, so therefore my life. I do not know Lincoln’s reasons for wanting to free my people, and it is too late to find out because he is dead. But what is important is that two years later in 1865 the slaves were free, 1868 given civil rights, 1870 given the right to vote; and I believe this is the direct result of the letter of one white man who led me to trust other white men and also introduced me to my new identity, African American.

84 85

Jerrell Dunson

words drawings photography


Mother’s Voices Sings thru the Nightwind Across the foothills of LaGrange MT‌beside the Tennessee River Rapids echoing the Mighty Mississippi to empty into my soul deep in the heart of this Louisianna Penitentiary. Rita Harrison Herrero Tutwiler Women housed in S.L.C.C

86 87

Jeff Anglin

words drawings photography


Changes are Requisite This is what I need to survive: A vision as vivid as a worm to a bird atop a tree, The drive equal to that of a diesel on the interstate, Focus on my goals as if I were shooting a free throw that the game is dependant upon stay persistent as a bird who whistles in the morning’s start, Stand on my words as a foundation stands upon the ground to uphold it’s empire, Use my mistakes as a television with no buttons use a remote control, Use my time as wisely as a doctor use’s his theory of practice, Be as dependent upon God as a foot is to a shoe, I must follow my dreams as if it were my hand in front of me, Stick to my plans of success as a carpenter does a blueprint, Keep God first as I use no#1 before no#2. This is what I must do to survive.

Making a Change My life has turned 180 degrees and now it’s all messed up. I had it all. All with a silver spoon and drank from a golden cup. As of now, instead of ease I have so much pain turning into misery. I’m tormented by this madness of my brain. It’s like everything I had was an illusion, that wasn’t real. I don’t know what I knew, and don’t feel like I once felt. I felt life was good and all people too, but there’s no telling what people will do. My mission as of now is to achieve one more 180 degrees, to make this 360 complete, which will bring back my former life that I so aim to seek. K. Colvin

88 89

Kelvin Randle

words drawings photography


03 04 Judith Robinson

Jamie Chatham

words drawings photography


Blue High Wild as a forest, and its treesFree as the Mountains, and a fast blowing breezeJust like me, In days gone byThe thumping of the V-twin, accelerating into a war cryOn two wheels and the pavement, what a way to flyUnder the blue sky; riding free-Not a day goes by-without me yearning for those days againTo enjoy the colors, The wind, and the hazeHitting that final gear, Feeling the fastest phaseBut for now, I will pretend that was the good old daysWay back when-And by now I have surely changed my waysUntil-Again, I am free-To rejoin the sky, Wild free, And oh so high! Joseph Robert Twarog

92 93

Joey Headly

words drawings photography


What Do I Believe In

Yet Everything Makes Perfect, Since…

I believe in living life to the fullest. loving God, others, and myself.

I looked out of one window only to find myself looking into another window…yet everything makes perfect, since. Beautiful dreams as if they had been painted by a famous painter. Smiling faces, hands reached out to greet, the kindest of kind words spoken—

Life can be easy or hard, and teaching lessons that can’t be learned at any school I’ve learned to be content locked up or free, knowing that God’s above directing my heart to see.

I opened the window to reach for the window I was looking into…

I believe that this life will pass and only the love we show others will last.

A world of complete madness and chaos, yet everything makes perfect, since.

I believe freedom is in your heart take a small step of faith, it’s a start.

Graphically vivid nightmares playing like old Reel-to-reel movies. Deceitful grins, hands so quick to stab in the back, words so cruel they cut to the soul yet everything makes perfect, since.

David Martin

92 93

Christine Mathews

Patrick Grandison

words drawings photography


Raindrops of a Junkie

Judith Robinson

to my shooting stars, blood escaping the vain of one’s weary and toppling over each other climbing their way into the syringe consuming their warm, maybe colored contexts placidly, erotically— a grateful touch of the lover’s gentle hand cascading from waste to High shame filled— self degrading acts that purchased this euphoric lagoon returned one by one, they become a nova an organic flow temporarily— painting over the memories, belying the hurt of truth, concealing the pain of reality engulfed— one brief instance whose life seems to become once again bearable Christine Mathews

96 97

words drawings photography


Open—Ow As I sit in this 4 corner room, thoughts emerge as a rapid Beat. Feelings spring from my head like Summer Roses. The voice’s I’ve heard early that day, are the pains I accept and know so well. One was of race, another of religion. There were many more, however time won’t allow me to digest that quickly. A few seconds later my soul speaks. Race…. exists but it doesn’t exist. It’s there for those that want it there. People that don’t appreciate the Simple things in life, Such as the air, pains, joys, life, and death. Will forever blink out of Reality.

The reason why is because they fear reality. Religion is the virus that keeps the people away from each other that which fashions Society like a model Set to make her grand appearance. As you can see my son, these are just two of a billion things that divides us from true peace. Whitman said it best for every atom belonging to me belongs to you. 98 99

Anthony Mays

Paul Dent

words drawings photography


03 04

Judith Robinson

Judith Robinson Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


The Opposite of Version 1 O lost love, your not what I thought you were. your lips reek of tobacco at the end of the day your arms, like prison bars I run, run from them. I detest you truly! Right now I look and seek for someone else, anyone else, but you! If you died relief would fill my soul! O my wilting, dead flower I leave you to be all to yourself.

The Opposite of Version 2 Refreshed, I am so refreshed. So refreshed I taste you when we hold each other the children run to their rooms leaving us to enjoy one another. When I close my eyes I’m filled with images of only you. I now laugh the way old lovers did laugh, and knowing they see how I’ve stayed with you. You still want me, being so refreshed, so in love with you. Come kiss me, love me, the two of us are one. Linda Smith

Linda Smith 102 103

words drawings photography


Duality This is what I need to survive. Death. Is the only life that remains eternally, there is no survive in things passing. To survive is to endure, if it can perish then it is not enduring. Any thought outside of this reality is an illusion, falsehood, a letter to the mind. Death survives without the need of an aid, to need to survive in this world is foolish. You are only wish to hold onto materialistic expressions of art, freaks feelings, that will soon depart. That is no joy in that. Once the feelings are gone, you left searching, unsuccessfully to secure a satisfaction that will soon perish. Who wants to withstand such whims of disappoints. This is what I need to survive The ability to control my thoughts & actions, devoted to this purpose. Faith in my master’s ability to lead me in truth, with the ability to accept the truth. Acting with wisdom, free from resentment. Distinguishing between right & wrong; the real from the unreal. This is what I need to survive, it is my liberation from death.

104 105

Blalen Snoddy

Joseph Twarog

words drawings photography


Sounds of the Night A distant roar of thunder and amber flashes mark the storm Whistling winds softly rustle the fields of wheat The velvet pewter pond reflects the midnight moon and gently pitter-pats upon the shore An owl eerily hoots from a hallowed tree Zepplin tunes float over the blanketed folly Euphoric laughter and intoxicating whispers from the tanned sculpture with blue glass eyes Slow tapping for rain turns to a driving stampede Suddenly drowning all sight and sound Jessica Loquidis 106 107

Paul Dent words drawings photography


Clear Skies If I knew better than to believe blue skies are blue skies but the tears of women burying children killed by our bombs Tell me our blue skies are a lie Blue skies in America? Not the same today because of tears of the women the cries of dying and maimed children. They scream discordantly, color things I see the blue black of blood in rigor mortis. No clear skies exist in a world at war with itself. The deep blue sky thrumming and humming with the sound and color of deaths we never even knew about. Unless we heard it in the blue sky we pray to turn clear again.

36 37

Jessica Bates

Bonnie Ford Reeves

words drawings photography


What is a Man I look in the mirror, the reflection I see is that of my own everything A man is to be: very elated just to be me, what is a man? My walk is that of a back straight Chest out, head upward, eyes focused on a prize I can not see collecting real facts about me; what is a man? What is a man? What is a man? That is the question? So open up your eyes and see for when you look in the mirror you will see that a man is you and me. Larry Poole 110 111

Byron Watkins

words drawings photography


Crime A Thought A Decision An Action Right? Wrong? Maybe Maybe not A Charge A Trial A Judgment Right? Wrong? Maybe Maybe not 03 04

A Sentence A Life A Death Right? Wrong? Maybe Maybe not Rhonda Mitchell

Jamie Chatham

words drawings photography


The Clock Days and Days go by as the clock “ticks” and “tock.” The recurrent illusion of metal doors clinging and becoming one. My tongue clenches to the roof of my mouth, confused as I become history…but never talked about. My thoughts become as the wavering seas, Memories of that precious yellow tulip that blooms every spring. Hallucinations of my covenant becoming two again. I’m constantly redressing the recurrent illusion of that man dressed in a long…black silk robe with a collar of white, holding my life. In his hand … BANG! It’s in the past.

114 115

I rewind my thoughts to that day.

CatDunce

I remember that same clock that “ticked” and “tocked . . . “ When I was pronounced as…deceased to the world. Shantell Williams words drawings photography


words drawings photography

APAEP 2005 Anthology  

2005 Collection of Art and Poetry from students in 2005 Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project classes.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you