Saturday, August 11, 2012





Perhaps you will find it as ironic as I did. After I was sentenced to “90 days mail restriction” on Thursday, July 5th, I stopped in the library to pick up a couple of grievance forms to appeal the illegal sentence. (For what good it does ─ DOC motto: “when we’re right, we’re right, and when we’re wrong, we’re right.”)

Turning t walk out, I paused to look more closely at a colorful poster taped to the wall. In large letters it asked, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” In small print it noted, “from ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,’ by T.S. Eliot.”

A poem! Or, at least, an excerpt from a famous poem, I recalled. The poster proclaimed that April, 2009, was National Poetry Month, and it listed the Academy of American Poets, at “,” the New York Times, and other sponsors of National Poetry Month. Could this beacon be an encouragement for prisoners to write poems?

And I thought, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?,” if only for a moment? I answered, “Yes.” Would J. Alfred Prufrock and T. S. Eliot be proud of me, for enduring punishment for the sake of art and the First Amendment? I would like to think so.

SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012


At least they haven’t cut off my phone privileges yet! (knock on wood). Today is Sunday, and I spent several hours writing down legal case citations on the First Amendment as applied to prisoners, learning several new facts. The main point is that the prison officials are dead wrong for punishing me for writing a poem, and all these petty rules are unconstitutional. Florida is caught in some sort of time warp or wormhole, years behind the rest of America. Are they oblivious to the “Law of the Land,” or just don’t care to do the right thing?
When public officials who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution abuse their authority, lie, and make false statements on official state documents strictly to strike back at a prisoner as a reprisal, they undermine the integrity of their fellow public servants, losing what little respect they might have had from their charges. How can society expect thousands of prisoners to emerge from prison and lead law-abiding lives when their captors have posed as such poor role models? It can’t.
I was discussing that same thing on the phone with a friend when I thought again how impossible it sometimes seems to maintain a clean record when we are constantly subjected to arbitrary and capricious enforcement of petty and illogical rules by hostile, miserable people who bring their personal problems to work with them and vent their frustrations on us. Sadistic roots run deep.
I used the example of Jesus and Paul the Apostle sharing a cell together in prison, and how much trouble they could get into if they were targeted by a typical bad guard:
PAUL: Jesus, I wrote a letter to the Philippians, and the mailroom sent it back.


PAUL: They said it was conducting a business and soliciting donations. They’re gonna write me a D.R. What if they read Corinthians?

JESUS: That’s a bummer, man. Did I tell you what they did to me today?

PAUL: No, what’d they do?

JESUS: This guy on the rec field had a seizure, fell out, and I laid hands on him.

PAUL: Did he have a demon?

JESUS: Nah, it was straight epilepsy, but that sergeant who hates us flipped out, said he was going to write me a “walking D.R.” for unauthorized physical contact. What’s a “walking D.R.,” Paul?

PAUL: Um…I think that means you get to stay out of lockup and walk around until the D.R. hearing next week.

JESUS: Man, how many walking D.R.’s have we gotten this week?

PAUL: I don’t know. We need to count them up. There’s that one where we were praying, speaking in tongues, and that young guard wrote us up for “violation of count procedures,” talking during count.

JESUS: And we both got D.R.’s for not shaving our beards, and not having a shaving pass, or getting haircuts.

PAUL: How do you get a shaving pass?

JESUS: I don’t know. I can’t understand why they wrote me up for turning water into wine in the chowhall at lunch.

PAUL: Let me read the paperwork.

JESUS: Here it is.

PAUL: “Possession of alcoholic beverages.” That’s not good. It was good wine, though. It went well with the soy patty.

JESUS: Yeah, but what about when I took that biscuit out of the chowhall, broke bread on the rec field, and fed the whole compound? The portions on the tray were so small, everyone was hungry.

PAUL: I don’t know. I think it was the six baskets of leftover bread and hot dogs they found. They wrote you up for stealing food out of the kitchen.

JESUS: But I wasn’t stealing! My Father gave it to us!

PAUL: They don’t care, Jesus. What about this one the guard wrote on me? Verbal disrespect!

JESUS: How did that go down, Paul?

PAUL: I told him we were all prisoners of sin, and he got very angry, said he hated prisoners, and I insulted him, he wasn’t a prisoner.

JESUS: Is that all? That doesn’t seem very serious.

PAUL: It wasn’t until he told lies to the sergeant, said I cussed him, calling him dirty names.

JESUS: That’s not very nice. What do you think we should do?

PAUL: (grinning mischievously) When they lock everyone in their cells tonight, how about if we make all the doors pop open, and the fences fall down. That ought to confuse them.

JESUS: Sounds like a plan, Paul, but we should make sure all the guards fall into a deep sleep first. When they wake up, the prison will be empty.

PAUL: But some of these guys are dangerous. Do you want to just set them free?

JESUS: Oh, no! We will heal them all first, make them new men.

PAUL: I like it!

JESUS: And we won’t have to worry about all those D.R.’s.

PAUL: Have you noticed, Jesus, how these prison folks are just like the Romans were two thousand years ago?

JESUS: People never learn, Paul, you know that, until they are washed clean of their sins.

PAUL: So, you wanna go down to the showers and baptize some of the guys?

JESUS: Excellent idea, Paul. We’ll get an early start.

PAUL: I wonder what kind of D.R.’s they’ll write us up for that?

JESUS: It doesn’t matter.


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