Perfect

by Foosie

I’m only human but that doesn’t diminish my perfection in the slightest. When I was born – I was perfectly loved – and nothing has changed since that day. So, let me be one of the first people to ever tell you that I’m perfect.

Born out of wedlock to an OG who already had two kids by two different Dads…perfect. Born a tone of brown that hasn’t always been held in the highest esteem when it comes to pulchritude…perfect. Big nose…perfect. Big lips…perfect. Gap tooth smile…perfect. The water beads off my skin like candy paint fresh from the carwash…perfect.

Tattoo of a lost soldier on my arm…perfect. Gun powder dust on my sleeves…perfect. A mug shot instead of a graduation picture…perfect. Blood on my hands forever…perfect. I woke up this morning…perfect. I have hope for tomorrow…perfect. I’ve got a story to tell…perfect.

Perfect…Not in thought or in word or in deeds but in reality. Perfectly flawed and perfectly loved. And He is. So am I in this world.

Foosie is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. 

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My Mind

By Krazy Dave

My mind never stops running. Constant traffic created by racing thoughts in a city with thousands of intersections. Thoughts move with a million different topics, opinions, and insane ideas. I am called “Krazy Dave” for a reason. A fate placed on me since birth. Intersecting thought without stop signs or lights. Traffic light thoughts that are constantly on a collision course within this demented city. What am I to do? If I fight it, it only gets worse. Therefore, I chose to adapt and to live in a city of madness within my mind.

Krazy Dave is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to spend time with his children and help people who are struggling with mental health.

The Show

By Brandon

I watched it all like a Broadway show from the sidelines of my front row seat, wanting to be heard but unable to speak. The courtroom became a stage – I felt scared and alone. So, this is justice? My trial was filled with more theatrics than the actual shootout I endured. This can’t be real. As I think back, I realize how much I’ve changed. I look out the window and I see life floating by, and I ask myself, “Where will I go from here?”

I see the crime scene. It fills me with disappointment even though it was years ago. I was shot, man-hunted, caught, attacked by a K-9 before I was made to walk the humiliating mile to the ambulance -knowing my life would be forever changed while suffering from injuries that still sting deep into my heart. I recall the verdict coming in as I awaited my fate by people appointed to give their opinion on matters of my case. I sat through testimonies of eye-witnesses for and against me, telling the judge and jury their recollection of an incident we all experienced from different lenses.

So this is my life. Charged. Convicted of attempted murder. With no wife, I can only embrace my worst fears of being locked up. I am alone, reduced to tears. No applaud – just the dimming of lights on the final curtain call.

Brandon A. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans on pursuing a career in culinary arts by operating a food truck while continuing writing.

Rise Through My Fall

By Brandon A.

“Thank you” is a phrase that is often underrated. We say it to let people know they are appreciated. But what do you say when gratitude is not enough? When words can’t express what you feel, or who you’re touched. If I could rewind back through my lifetime, I would cherish you more than my own lifeline. The things you taught me I could never forget. The mistakes I made I will always regret. Family is a word we don’t take lightly. It lights fire to our soul that strikes like lightening. Because family means more than being related. It’s about the pain, joy, suffering. My big sister, to me, is more like a Mom, or a friend I depend on; my supreme icon. After 17 years of confinement, she is the only one who knows where all the time went. A voice of reason through a sea of treason. When all other supporters were leaving, she never missed a season. So now at this intersection of my life where I’m nearing my sentence, I dedicate my future to being more present because I believe I will rise through my fall.

Brandon A. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans on pursuing a career in culinary arts by operating a food truck while continuing writing.

On why I work with inmates and chose to submit their writings to the Spirit & Place Festival blog’s 2018 theme: “Intersection”

by Debra Des Vignes

They notice birds that sing prison songs in plantation fields to condemned men with hopeless dreams. In 2017, I founded Indiana Prison Writers Workshop, a creative writing program for those living in Indiana correctional facilities, where I lead a group of inmates through different writing prompts. The questions they ask: “How have our lives come to this and what will we find waiting for us on the other side?”

As I meet these men in their brown jumpsuits each Sunday, their lives intersecting with mine, I am struck by their poise, candor, and eagerness to express their vulnerabilities. It’s true, the sliver of light that appears through a window in an airless room, gives one an odd perspective of the world, and I no longer observe them through my narrowing eyes. We write about crime, the lives that stretch ahead of them, and the intersections we all face each day. At times, the walls around us feel heavy, but we persevere – unearthing deep emotional issues that were once too painful to let out. At times we jump back into our shells and silence settles among us like the weight of the sweltering sun on a muggy day, until we feel light again.

There’s a reason why so many inmates use storytelling as a coping mechanism, a tool to get through the day, the weeks, the months, the years. Being in prison strips one of their “self” where each day, from morning until bedtime, there is a fight to maintain one’s sanity. At times, Chris’ eyes go wide. “Oh, man, is this class for me?” He describes the writing program in this way: “We were immediately given permission to see ourselves as majestic creatures who are allowed to come and go as we please, fly free, and feel the wind beneath our wings. As caged birds we sing our little hearts out!” he proclaims in awe of the freedom he was given. “Now I’m writing a novel.”

These men are not numbers assigned by the Department of Corrections, but true artists. Writing builds confidence. It gives them hope at a time when hope is the one thing keeping them alive. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a new life, where fast-paced tempos once matched a hectic pace of a life, gives way to a calming melody of self-reflection. And where birds, once invisible in some trees, are now squawking. We’re all at an impasse.

In 1950, there were 265,000 prisoners in the U.S. Today, more than 2.3 million inmates sit behind bars in federal, state, and county prisons and jails around the country.