Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Still Standing Strong

Still Standing Strong

In this deplorable world of confusion
And of endless confinement
Where we are faced with constant degradation and intrusion
And battered down for trying to seek personal refinement
In a world so dark, so ugly, so cold
Feeling so isolated, alienated and all alone
A world where I no longer belong
All I can do is keep standing strong

This is a world where weakness gets no slack
Where my mind has been enraged, my heart has gone black
Psychological warfare; they’re on the attack
Consciousness has died in this graveyard
But I’ve been fighting so damn hard
To try to bring it back!
So many things have gone terribly wrong
Yet through it all, I still stand strong

Standing strong on my feet
While surrounded by broken prisoners
Who have become so accepting of defeat
The strong, the resilient, the wise and the brave
Have been pitted against the deranged and the depraved
By us, the oppressor’s path has been so easily paved
While they lead us straight to our graves
For some, it won’t be long
But for me, I’m still standing strong

Ely State Prison, Nevada
August 5th, 2013

This was published on August 16th in the SF Bay View. This was what Coyote wrote together with this poem:

Written July 28, 2013 – Sitting here in the dark, reflecting on the situation I find myself in, trying to figure out how things got so messed up here in this graveyard, trying to think of ways to uplift my fellow prisoners, bringing all the solid ones together so that we can try to make things better. But I’m just one man in this fight; I’ve only been able to do so much on my own.

Reflecting on a time when prisoners actually understood why it was absolutely necessary to separate the real from the fake. Damn, that seems so long ago …

If only I could bring solid prisoners together around real causes. If only I could build a level of trust and solidarity amongst those who live by a code of honor and respect.

It’s just sad to me, the way all of these snitches and foul infiltrations keep getting embraced by prisoners who are opportunists or by those who don’t have the heart to tell a rat or a rapist to kick rocks. With all of these foul pieces of crap being embraced, it ruins trust and destroys solidarity – and more importantly it aids our true enemy in keeping us down, divided and defeated.

So here I am in this lonely cell, sitting in the dark with all my appliances turned off, just contemplating my situation. I’m thinking about the courageous prisoners in California who are now weeks into their hunger strike, probably starving in pain, ready to put their lives on the line to end the ongoing isolation that they’ve suffered and endured for far too long.
They’re stuck in SHU, stuck in solitary. While here at Nevada’s max security gulag, Ely State Prison, we’ve got all of these cats on self-requested ad-seg, voluntarily putting themselves in isolation, just staying back there for months and months, and years and years.

I can’t help but reflect on the paradox of how in one state you’ve got people dying to get out of isolation, while in another state, we’ve got all these cats hiding out in isolation, acting like that’s the place to be.

While I sit here in the dark, I can feel the coldness and the loneliness slowly but adamantly start to seep into my cell. I can feel it with my whole being, as the darkness starts to set in. So I’ve got to get up and fight it, ‘cause I can’t allow this situation to defeat me. I can’t let myself become conquered by this weak ass bullshit.

When darkness sets in, it’s time to turn on the light. It’s time to get up and be productive. My heart so truly goes out to the California hunger strikers, and to all those who struggle and fight for significant changes in their lives. Keep pushing forward.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Books are our real weapons

This was written for and published in: Nevada Prisoners' Newsletter #13 (2013) [to be uploaded]

Before I make my statement, and bring to the attention or E.S.P. prisoners the situation going on here, first allow me to open this article with a brilliant quote from a brilliant, dedicated comrade of mine (whom I wish would frequently write more articles for the NPN, to help give these prisoners more of a social consciousness :( ), it goes like this:

“To complete the revivication of our innermost individuality and breath the potential back into the listless body that becomes us, understanding of reality becomes essential in shattering the disinformation oppressors of every sort have forcefully shoved down our throats since birth. Those who wish to keep us enslaved have always related that we are to accept their anthologies of dogma and not once question their explanation (justifications) of our conditions.” – Victor TrayWay

Okay, now with that quote on your minds, please allow me to proceed…

It has come to my attention that AWP Burns has been categorically denying various prisoners books by outright rejecting their book approvals! This goes to show that the E.S.P. administration wants to dictate what we can and cannot read (but only if we let them!). Because, truth be told, what they’re doing is illegal (according to their own laws) and a blatant violation of our Fourteenth Amendment rights (Due Process) and our First Amendment Rights (Freedom of Speech)… (the “rights” that they supposedly give us, yet violate on a consistent basis).

Now, I’m no jailhouse lawyer, unfortunately, but I do know enough to know that here at Ely State Prison we are supposed to have what is called a Publication Review Committee. This Publication Review Committee is put in place to review books that they “think” could possibly pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution. Once these books are sent in, then they could review them. After the books have been reviewed, then they could decide whether to reject them or let us have them. This is called Due Process. To outright deny our book approvals, without even allowing the Publication Review Committee to review these books is a violation of Due Process.

Furthermore, the only reason that they could legally deny us books is if they could actually prove that the books indeed pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution. Currently, the AWP is trying to deny us books that this prison actually carries in the E.S.P. Library! He wants us to tell him what each book is about before he approves them. Well, how are we supposed to know what the books are about until we’ve received them?

Secondly, we don’t have to tell him what the books are about. This is why we have a special form, an “Inmate Book Request” form (DOC 1562) that we have to fill out when we want an approval to order books from the outside. The DOC-1562 form has the stipulations printed on it and nowhere on that form does it say we have to tell him what those books are about. If they feel that the books could possibly pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution, then they could review them at the Publication Review Committee. It even says right there on the “Inmate Book Request” )DOC-1562 form):

“All books received may be reviewed for content by the Publication Review Committee.”

Fortunately, they are not denying everybody approval for books, but we do know for a fact that there are many of us who have had our book approvals rejected, and, as pointed out above, the only penological reason they could have for denying us new, paperback books that come from an Authorized Vendor, via First Class Mail, is if they can prove that these books actually pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution. They cannot deny us books simply ‘cuz they don’t like them, or ‘cuz they disagree with the content.

It even says in AR 750:

“A magazine or publication may not be rejected solely because its content is religious, philosophical, political, social, or sexual or because its content is unpopular, repugnant, or does not agree with commonly held beliefs and practices.” [F, pt 5, page 7]

That is exactly what it says in the AR, and believe me when I tell you that the AR is mandated by law (by their laws): NRS 209.131; 209.365. Many prisoners in many states have sued over these same reasons and have won. This is definitely something worth fighting for. We should be able to read what we want to read, not what they want us to read.

We can challenge this through grievances and through the courts (their courts). Every time they reject one of our book approval forms that is a violation of Due Process, and of Freedom of Speech. The more evidence we collect, and the more they violate our rights, the more money we could sue them for (anybody looking for a hustle, here you go!), but more importantly we can use their weapons (the law, the courts) against them so that we can get them to stop these arbitrary and discriminatory practices and oppressive tactics against us.

I would like to ask E.S.P. prisoners to start a paper trail and start challenging this. You can do this by writing a kite to all of the wardens, your caseworkers and the property sgt, asking them who is all on the Publication Review Committee? Asking them what’s the purpose of the Publication Review Committee? Write kites to AWP Burns and to Warden Baker, explaining to them that they cannot deny our book approvals without first reviewing the books. Collect all the evidence you can collect, and every time one of your book approvals is rejected, save that too.

For further information into all of this, check out these things from the Law Library:

- AR 750
- NRS 209.131
- NRS 209.365
- U.S. v. Eichmann, 496 US 310, 319, 110 SCT 2404 (1990)
- Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 US 92, 95, 92 SCT 2286, 2290 (1972)
- Pell v. Procunier, 417 US 817, 822, 94 SCT 2800, 2804 (1974)
- Turner v. Safley, 482 US 78, 107 SCT 2245 (1987)
- Bell v. Wolfish, 441 US 551, 99 SCT 1880
- Abu-Jamal v. Price, 154 F3d 128 (3rd Cir., 1998)
- X v. Blatter, 175 F3d 378 (6th Cir., 1999)

I encourage prisoners to check out these materials from the library and do their own research. [...]

Books are our real weapons. The knowledge contained within the pages is what we gain strength from. And with that strength there’s no limit to what we can do! Those who keep us confined and who hold us captive have clearly shown that they don’t want us in here gaining knowledge or getting strong. So these types of tactics are to be expected – but never accepted!

It reminds me of the History books that I’ve read about slavery. I mean the real History books like Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States 1492-present,” real history that explains what really happened, not the history that we’ve been force-fed in school.

In the History books I’ve read about slavery it explains how the slave-owners made it illegal for a slave to learn how to read and write. Why? Because in order to keep their slaves servile, they had to keep them uneducated, ignorant and always dependent on “Master.”

For those of you in prison who do not see how all of this correlates to our situation here, then I would advise you to take a more critical, analytical, deeper look at yourself, your oppressor, your circumstances, the environment you live in now and the environment you grew up in, and take a deep hard look at the nature of power, and see that it is those in power who oppress, exploit, and enslave those who have no power; the poor, the weak, the lower class, the minority.

But it is through that strength that we find the confidence and the determination to strive for our liberation from these chains; from slavery, from oppression. The administration here at ESP understands this better than we do. That’s why they try to make it so difficult for us to get our books in. Imagine if we were in here educating ourselves, learning how to use the law as a weapon, learning how to use History as a weapon. Imagine if we were in here learning Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology, and then using this knowledge to construct our own societies with our own social and economic systems. Imagine all of the different ways we could empower ourselves with knowledge.

Books are our real weapons. They don’t want us to be armed like that. They try to dictate what we can and cannot read because they want us to learn the lessons they want to teach us, which is a lesson of conformity. They want us to conform to their ideologies, their economic system, their standards, and to their laws and constitutions- that we had no part in creating ourselves. This is a fight we all have to partake in. It’s a fight to be able to read what we want to read, learn what we want to learn. This is a real fight, something that we really need to fight for. So if your book approvals are being rejected, I hope you will join me in this fight. Thank you.

Solidarity and Respects,

Anarchist Black Cross
Nevada Prison Chapter
November 4th, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

In Fond Memory of my Best Friend: Katy O’Leary

Written on 6-25-2012, from Ely State Prison

Usually it’s easy for me to write something down on paper; writing is what I do; it pretty much comes natural to me. But now, as I set here and struggle to find the right words, and the right stories, while wiping away the tears from my eyes, and the snot from my nose, I’m finding it difficult to write this, not only because the tremendous sadness I feel inside my heart, as I am just now finding out, but also because Katy was such an Incredible, Amazing person, that I just want to make sure that I say all that my heart can say, to honor her the way she deserves, so please bear with me here, รง uz I do have an amazing synchronicity to share.

Katy was my best friend. Of all the friends I have, she was my best friend. I’ve never met a person in this world who was so full of love and compassion! Love emanated from her very being; she was the embodiment of love – no, actually, she was LOVE! – Everything about Katy was love: everything she did was an act of love. If I ever said ‘I don’t know what love is,” then I was wrong, because I knew Katy, and she was LOVE. She showed me what love is, through her actions and just through her very existence.

It just shocks me that she’s gone now. It’s hard to grapple with. I am a man who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison, and I can’t even begin to explain how much Katy’s letters and her support has been the very thing that has helped me get through these days, months, and years. Not only me, but Katy has also helped my friends in here, all of who, have come to love her, appreciate her, respect her and truly value her friendship. Katy really cared about us. She cared about people in prison, the people that most of society has turned her back to, but she refused to turn her back on us, and because of her friendship and support, I promise you, Ely State Prison was made a better place. She helped us make it better, with her dedication and kindness, and not only with her letters and cards, but she really believed in what I had going on in here, raising awareness, passing out literature, building study groups with my fellow prisoners, and she would seriously go out of her way to make copies of various kinds of literature and reading materials, so that I could pass them around to other prisoners in here, as a means to educating them, lifting their spirits during such tumultuous times and while living in such sordid conditions, and just trying to raise the overall consciousness of the prisoners in here.

When she moved from Oakland, California, to Michigan to be by her mother’s side, Katy had made sure to [lug] envelopes and envelopes of copies she had made for us, she had them in the trunk of her car, and was going to make sure they were safe, so that she could send them in to us.

Katy was really amazing! The first time I started a book drive for the ESP prison library, she was my most dedicated supporter! She went around from bookstore to bookstore, person to person, collecting books, and even donating her own personal collection of books to our library, just so the prisoners here could have spiritual and educational books to read! The first time she donated 13 boxes of books to our library! A few months later, she donated 21 boxes of books! I was astonished by her dedication and her love! What a great person she was. The second book drive we had, a couple of years later, she was just as dedicated and passionate about the whole ordeal, once again donating another 21 boxes of books! So, the prisoners here will always have something to remember her by, and because of her, prisoners here will always have the opportunity to grow and educate themselves!

Back in 2007, Katy drove all the way out here to Nevada to attend a very important legislative meeting, to help make changes for Nevada prisoners. She got up and spoke her heart out, because I asked her to, and because I told her how much we needed her support on this. So, she got up and spoke to a room full of strangers, spoke her heart out, and helped us get Assembly Bill 510 passed! Katy was an Activist, and so much more, she did it all out of love, and I really admired her for that.

Yes, Katy truly [was] my best friend. She was someone I turned to and confided in when I was at my lowest ebb, and she’d always find the right words to pick me back up again. I have hundreds of letters and cards from her, she confided everything about herself to me, about her life and things going on. There’s nothing she didn’t, or couldn’t tell me, or talk to me about. She always knew how to pick out nice cards too. Different than my other types of cards I’ve ever received, but I loved her choice of cards and especially the inspirational things she would write inside and on the back of them. Her words always meant a lot to me.

I introduced Katy to my mother, and to many of my closest friends, and she became very, very close to all [?] Everybody loves Katy, everybody has been touched by her, she was Amazing!

Katy taught me about synchronicity, and we’ve had some amazing, awesome synchronicities of our own, one of which I’m going to tell you about here shortly… And it was because of Katy that I’ve added the word “Resonate” into my vocabulary. She would always be telling me something was really “resonating with her.” She had so many stories, so many positive and wonderful things to say, she talked to me about her friends, her […] daughters, Rachel, Rhiannon and Heather, and she’d always talk about her grandsons Calvin and Greyson, who she loved and adored so much.
She always talked about the 13 moon calendar, the Mayans, the Native Americans and their spirituality, and about how much she loved being Irish, and about being a midwife, and about magic and love and about everything. She would write me these amazing, long letters that would never bore me, but that were always filled with excitement, emotion and adventure, and inspiration. She really knew how to be a friend, she knew how to heal and how to help me pull through the darkness, and how to help me get through this time while being confined to a maximum security prison cell.

Oh, I am devastated, I can’t believe she’s gone, so suddenly, so unexpectedly, this really hurts to lose my best friend, I’m really, really going to miss her.
She was always telling me how she was “looking for her tribe.” In the last letter I wrote her (I really hope she got it?) I told her that I’d be getting out soon and that we could both go up to the Northwest together, Washington State, and find a place to live and find our tribe. And I was waiting for her reply, and now I find this out, that she’s gone, and that she died in Oregon, of all places. Wow. This just hits me hard, Katy was so much a part of my life, I called her ‘Warrioress Katy”, because she was like a warrior woman to me, always willing to take on the fight with me, to fight by my side, and to fight for me. She was Red Planetary Serpent, she taught me all about the calendar, and really got my Mom into all of that, and she taught me how we were living out of synch with [Saturn] time…

When I first met Katy, when we initially started writing to each other, we hit it off, right off the bat! It was one synchronicity after the other. We both found that we needed each other, and we had one of the most amazing synchronicities together, only months into our friendship. She kept telling me how a bluejay kept visiting her backyard, and on the very exact day that I came to the hole, August 5th, 2006, I looked out the back window of my new cell, and lo and behold, there was a bluejay, right there!

We’ve had many other magical synchronicities since then, but what’s really amazing is this – she believed, as I believe, that birds are carriers of our souls, and that they symbolize the souls of the dead… Right before Katy died, passed away – this is really amazing, and I swear it’s the absolute truth – somehow a little sparrow was able to get inside of the unit that I’m on, and it was flying around on the tier! I was able to push some bread out of my door, and I actually fed the little sparrow. It is very unusual and very difficult for a bird to get inside the prison, and on to the unit, and secretly, I’m somewhat astonished and awed by signs and magical things myself, so when I seen the little sparrow flying around inside the unit, I knew something was up, and instantly I thought of my best friend, Katy!

Oh, and it hurts now that she’s gone! I’ve lost my best friend, but not before she came to say good bye to me, and to all of us here, ‘cuz the guards were saying that the bird was also flying down the hallway, over to unit 4! I know that little sparrow had to be carrying Katy’s soul, I don’t know how to explain it, as I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but in my heart I know that was Katy’s way of saying good bye to me.

The world has definitely suffered a devastating loss, now that our dear loved one, Katy, is gone! Good bye Katy, I promise I will always, always carry you in my heart. You’ve touched my heart and my life, in ways that will always be a part of me. I love you Katy, and I’m really, really going to miss you!
With a sad, lonely heart,

To Katy’s daughters, or to whom it may concern, I am almost certain that your Mom was probably in the middle of writing a letter to me, on her computer, or in a card, or an unfinished letter, somewhere, because she was always writing me, always letting me know what was going on… She wasn’t able to mail the manila envelopes (copywork) to me, but that’s okay, I’m not worried about that, but it would really, really mean everything to me, just to be able to read the last letter (s) she might’ve had for me, so if you can find that amongst her things, I would really appreciate if someone could send that to me:
Coyote Sheff #55671
P.O. Box 1989,
Ely, NV 89301
Or via: (run by friends)
Thank you!! Also, please let me know the exact location of Katy’s burial site, so I can visit her and pay my respects when I get out. Thank you. If there’s anything I can do for you, to help, or to be of service, it would be my honor to do so. Your Mother was awesome, and I’m truly sorry and devastated for your loss. Your Mother was so awesome!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Our subversive ways of life and thought have become intractable to those who keep us confined to these contemptible cages: our captors.

In this clandestine world of stone walls and steel doors, where an undesirable type of thickness languishes in the arid atmosphere, we prisoners have ingenuously created our own subcultural ways to live from day to day, even under the most extreme conditions, where in one form or another, many miscellaneous acts of inhumanity and degradation are constantly being imposed upon us.

Our captors see the strength and the passion that unceasingly remains, the flicker of life veiled behind our angered eyes that blink with an edge of vengeance and asperity. Our captors are not only awed by this magnificent strength and resiliency; paradoxically they also despise it, because it stands as a constant reminder of their own inferiority; knowing that they themselves could never have the stamina to endure half of the things we’ve been forced to endure. And the more they’re reminded, the more brutal and condescending they become, as they try and try to break us.

Evidently, what is not understood is often feared, and in this case, their fear leads to suppression. Naively and erroneously, they believe that their suppression is going to lead to our submission, yet contrarily, the more they suppress, the more fiercely we cling to our warriors way of life… The more recalcitrant we become.


Friday, March 30, 2012

ABC Nevada Prison Chapter: Still No Victories

First and foremost, my most sincere greetings of solidarity and respects are extended to the poor, imprisoned and oppressed. My name is Coyote, I’m a serious Anarchist radical, confined and isolated in the infirmary of Nevada’s most notorious maximum security lock-up: Ely State Prison.

In 2007, I started up my own prison chapter of Anarchist Black Cross. Because of my efforts – and another comrade’s efforts – and due to the exposure of the blatant medical neglect here at ESP through the Rikers vs. Gibbons / ACLU lawsuits, a solid support structure for NV prisoners has begun to be erected. This includes the Nevada Prison Watch website that provides oversight of the NDOC;, which does the same; the Nevada Prison Newsletter, which I am now the co-editor of; and now the NV-CURE has been re-activated. Whereas before, NV prisoners had no outside resources to connect to, now we have these, so this is just the beginning of many things to come.

I have published zine after zine, all available from the S. Chicago ABC Zine Distro and also the Chicago ABC Zine Distro. Through my zines I have been able to reach many, many prisoners across the country, helping them to make the transformation from gangster to guerrilla, or from criminal to radical, and also showing them how to be active and organized while behind enemy lines. My zine “Starting Your Own ABC Prison Chapter” has been very influential to many prisoner activists who are trying to get themselves started. I have also been in collaboration (on the sly) with many prisoners in different states, helping them get organized where they’re at, showing them how to start up their own prison chapters, how to reach out to activists on the outs, how to reach out to prisoners where they’re at, etc.

Due to my efforts, and my resistance, here at ESP I have been able to flood this prison out with thousands of copies of all kinds of zines, radical literature and empowering reading materials. I have supplied hundreds of prisoners here with their own libraries and their own collections of literature, and they use these materials to not only raise their own consciousness, but also to raise the overall level of consciousness throughout this gulag. It has gotten to the point that there isn’t a tier/unit you can go to in this prison, where there aren’t at least 6 or 7 prisoners on each wing who have a good supply of zines and literature, most of which has come from me.

In January 2010, I started up a book drive for the ESP Library that lasted until May 2011, where people from all over the world had donated thousands of books to our library. When administration caught wind that an Anarchist radical was behind the whole thing, they hurried up and shut it down!!!

I have participated in mostly all of the riots, protests and demonstrations of resistance here at ESP, and have been accused by the pigs of being the main organizer of several of them. I have been placed on High Risk Potential status and labeled a ‘threat to the safety and security of the institution’, moved around from one hole to another every 30 days, which I have indeed used to my advantage to pass out literature, form alliances with other radicals, raise awareness, plant seeds and to organize.
Through my efforts I have been able to bring small numbers of enemy faction together, and unite prisoners across racial lines, to fight the true enemy. I have been a leader, a teacher, a comrade and a mentor to many of these youngsters here, regardless of their race, ethnicity, etc. Now there are many prisoners here at ESP who have become radicalized, and we now even have a handful of serious Anarchists here, all who have been taught and trained to be effective writers, propagandists, activists, leaders, teachers, and organizers, and some who are now in the process of starting their own collectives.

Because of my resistance to the stagnation and oppression of this everyday profane existence in this gulag, waking others up in the process, the warden has removed me from the rest of the prisoners, saying that I have “too much influence” over them, and placed me here in the infirmary to be isolated, until I am released. But even this has not stopped me.

Yes, I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished many things, have resisted all the way through, becoming a thorn in their side, but I claim no victories, because this prison still exists, we’re still locked down and treated like shit, still in the deathly hands of the enemy, and there are still many prisoners here who are unaware, asleep, afraid, or walking around ignorant and blind. There’s still much work to do, many battles still to be fought…

Still Striving for Real Victories

To send letters of encouragement and support, please write me at this address:
Coyote Sheff #55671
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, Nevada 89301-1989

Coyote’s beautiful, inspiring writings can be viewed on either of these sites:
1) Coyote Calling

Coyote’s zines can be obtained at either of these addresses (free to prisoners):

Chicago ABC
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave.
P.M.B. 460
Chicago, Illinois 60622

S. Chicago ABC Zine Distro
P.O. Box 721
Homewood, Illinois 60430

Thursday, March 22, 2012

“I don’t know what love is”

Love, love, love. Some want it, some don’t, but I think it’s safe to say it’s something we all need. Some people think it’s a “cheesy” subject to talk about, and then, some people, like myself, really don’t know what it is at all…

Before I venture any further and really delve into all of this, I just want to point something out right quick… Maybe, out there in the Free World, there are many people who have ways to "escape,” or they have things and ways to take away the pain that they feel deep inside their hearts – things like drugs, alcohol, medication, etc. But for me, I’ve been living in this hard, hostile world of misery and despair for nearly 15 years with no drugs to take to escape and with nothing to do but face myself and deal with every difficulty that arrives, just being strong while doing hard time and dealing with the agony inside, the best way I can. Needless to say, this pen and paper has significantly been one of the best ways for me to cope and deal with the anger, the aches, the pains, and the soul-destroying torment that comes from the loneliness that has lived the edges of my cemented heart. So even though some might think that the words I’m about to put down are “cheesy,” I’m still confident, nevertheless, that most will understand that these words that I’m about to propitiate to my readers come from somewhere deep, deep down inside, where they were discovered only after really taking the time to explore those depths and to feel what I feel, rather than try to escape, reject or conceal the real.

We all know that there’s no love here in this cold, heartless world of concrete walls, steel doors and plexiglass windows, and while we take so many pains to keep our emotions contained under a steeled surface, unrevealed, the more dehumanized we become. I’m not just talking out the side of my neck, but know this for a fact, as I have been living in this volatile world for so long; a world where the ways of violence, revenge and honor have predominated my environment, shaped my thoughts and has corrupted my heart.

This way of life, this world, is such a place where one feels it necessary to always keep their guard up, never truly being able to trust others, always watching your back, and if you have a sensitive side, it’s to stay way down inside, never to be exposed to the light of day, because in this cold world of darkness, it will be taken as a weakness and most likely exploited by the heartless, the manipulative and the corrupted. We all know the scandalous types that I’m talking about, some of us have once been like that ourselves at one time or another, assuming the ways of a predator as a so-called survival tactic; to keep from becoming the prey. So instead of opening up and trusting others, we stay suspicious and we learn to keep our defenses up, building walls around us, becoming hard, mean and cold inside. Emptiness is all you’ll find in a mad man’s heart. This is what happens when you live so long in a world without love.

From reflecting on my many years in prison – and from my many years of reflecting while in prison – I’ve come to realize that many men in here have a misogynist nature; whether consciously or subconsciously, they hate women. At one time in their lives they’ve been hurt by women and many have never taken the steps to try to let those wounds heal. They’ve come to look at love as “weakness”and to those who seek it as “suckers.” Females are derogated and characterized by the infamous “B-word”, or worse. There’s a lot of hurt inside and that hurt is directed towards women in a negative way. I know this because I myself have been through
some very painful moments in my life at a young age where I felt hurt, abandoned, neglected and betrayed by the person I loved and trusted the most in my life: my mother. And because of this pain I felt inside, I grew up to be a mean, mad, violent man, never opening myself up to love, not caring much about it others and having a deep resentment towards authority as well.

It has taken me years to heal from these wounds and truth be told, I’m still trying to fully recover and let the scar tissue subside, but even this can be a struggle. Sometimes I feel so alone like no one really cares, and I become so hostile inside towards those who come into my life pretending that they care, when really all they have is ulterior motives, and sometimes I feel like this
illusory thing called “love” just wasn’t meant for me, like it’s my destiny to live a lonely, loveless life as a revolutionary, dedicated only to struggle and anarchy.

My story is kind of sad, I’ve only been with three females, sexually, and that was about 15 years ago. I’ve never been in a relationship, never been in love and don’t even know what love is. I really do want to get out and find a good woman, one that would compel me to want to be a good man to her, but after living in a miserable world of hate and mistrust for so long, I don’t even have the foggiest idea how to go about doing this.

I don’t know how to trust a woman, to let her get close to me, letting her into my heart without having to worry about her playing with it like it’s a toy. I don’t want to be a possessive, controlling type of man, and yet, I’ve never really been in an experience where I’ve been tested in these regards to see how I deal with such things like commitment, jealousy, trust and just being able to really care about someone other than myself.

I’m afraid that my heart will break a thousand times in my search for love, or for a good woman. And after coming out of a despicable world of prison madness, I don’t even know how I’ll be able to deal with heartbreak. Will I end up killing myself? Will I kill her? Or will I find the strength inside me to heal and move on, and if so, will I dust myself off and try for love again, or will I be jaded and ruined by the whole experience.

You don’t learn these things in prison. This is a place where it becomes hard for you to even maintain a truthful, significant relationship with a woman, let alone your own family, no conjugal visits with your spouse, cut off from those important social ties that we need so much in our lives. Visits are rare due to the distance and the outrageous prices, phone calls are too expensive, and letters are more of a third-rate form of communication that it doesn’t give us a chance to really experience and feel what it’s like to actually be in a relationship.

We get locked up in this gloomy world of anger and hopelessness, sitting in these cells for years, deteriorating, not knowing how to love a woman or treat her right, and then get released back into a world that has become foreign and strange for us, not even knowing what to do. It’s no wonder people get out of prison and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. I don’t want to turn out like that. My problems in life haven’t been drugs, nor have I been much of a criminal, my problems have been with anger and violence, which all stem from the pain I feel inside from not being loved.

One of my closest comrades always teases me, calling me a “hopeless romantic.” This is someone I consider to be a real friend, someone I’ve always been able to count on and who will have my back when I’m right and who isn’t scared to let me know when I’m not, and I feel bad, because there were times when I felt I couldn’t even trust him, and it’s not his fault, but mine, because I have serious trust issues, after all the times I’ve been betrayed, and from living a meaningless, destructive life for so long. But he calls me a “Hopeless Romantic,” and now it makes me wonder if there’s actually some merit to that. Is it really hopeless for me? Or will I be able to get out and actually learn how to be good to a woman and treat her right? I don’t want to go back out into the world not knowing these things; not knowing how to trust a woman, not knowing how to make love to a woman, not knowing how to care about a woman, not knowing how not to be demanding, controlling and possessive towards someone that I’ve ended up becoming so close to that I don’t want to let go or lose. If only we could learn these things in prison, if only they’d send us back into the world knowing not only how to be a man but a good man at that, then how much more hopeful our future would be.

This is something I felt I had to get off my chest, just to say that love is all we need. To have people in our lives who actually care about us, so that we can start caring too! Not only about ourselves, but about others as well. I write this from somewhere deep inside of me, a new place that I didn’t even know existed, with the hope that the minds of society will start to see that you can’t just throw a broken man into prison for some time, thinking he’s going to come out a better, fixed man. It doesn’t work that way. Society has to start taking new approaches to this, or we’re going to have to start tearing these walls down! I also write these words with the hope that prisoners will start taking a deeper, more serious look at themselves, and at love, trust and just at the way we’re living.

With these words written, I just want to let it be known that until I can really get some real love, I’m still going to be … Coyote who howls in darkness, just an anarchist trying to open up the hearts and minds of the poor, imprisoned and oppressed, with my full extension of respect to the people in this world who actually do care about us in here. Maybe someday someone will come along and really teach me, and show me or help me find out what love really is. My heart has been hardened to this world I’ve lived in for so long, and now I know that the only thing that can save me is love.

Solidarity and Respects,
“The Hopeless Romantic”
Ely State prison