My dear friends, the beautiful and compassionate people out there in the “free” world, I wish I could give you the opportunity to meet and talk to some of these guys I’m locked down with. I wish you had the opportunity to contemplate the wise and poetic words of the warriors and radicals that I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with in these dregs of society.
Men who know pain, men who know strife, prisoners who have been beat down by life and who unfortunately had to survive by drastic means and desperate measures, but who still strive with determined passion to rise above the constant madness and degeneration, with the drive to come out of this situation as wiser and stronger men, with a true and healthy understanding of life. These prisoners are my comrades, they refuse to just sit and dwell in their cells, but instead, they make it a point to stay occupied and to stay focused and just like me they’re going through the same dilemmas and insane situations, just trying to stay strong and true through it all. We try to make the best out of a bad situation.
Straight up comrades. We may have different skin color, different cultures, different backgrounds, and therefore different ways of seeing and feeling about specific things, but we’ve all been put up in this same situation together, and we are all up in here doing time together, exchanging bits and pieces of conversation, head nods of acknowledgment as one walks past another’s cell on the way to the shower, we pass things to each other, share literature, share magazine, share pictures of beautiful women, we share books, we share music, and even though the administration here at Ely State Prison has made rules against sharing, we still do it, because we know that sharing is caring! We trade with one another, buy and sell from one another, and without really trying, we’ve basically turned each tier into a little community, just by being here, locked down like this and just trying to find ways to socialize and survive and to make it through this madness without losing our minds.
As we separate the real from the fake, the good from the foul, we’ve come to know of each other through a similar set of standards which convicts live by. After so much time and so much bullshit, while living around so much foulness under these locked down situations, some of us still try to keep the dying idea of solidarity alive.
A community that hates is one that perishes. A community that co-exists is one that thrives. If we can learn how to co-exist in these inhumane conditions of confinement, then we can definitely learn how to co-exist in a general population setting. It’s already known that the people who keep us here don’t want us to get along, they don’t want to see us sharing, borrowing, lending, and they especially don’t want to see us thriving and striving together, because they know that type of solidarity threatens and undermines the power they hold over us. Most of these oppressors would rather see us locked down and suffering, with nothing in our cells and no one to talk to. Which is why they try so hard to break us all the way down when they see how much we are trying to stay strong and to survive, and when they see how much we are willing to resist, they’re struck with fear and fascination! We are here, alive and stronger than ever, and we’re not going out like that. That’s why we strive so hard to learn new things, to exercise and to elevate! We strive to grow and develop and sharpen our intellects and strengthen our bodies and to search our souls. We dwell in a graveyard, but we are alive. Not only is this a political struggle, but it’s an intellectual struggle, a physical struggle and a spiritual struggle as well. Never are we to lay down and accept this shit, which is why we’ve made it our objectives to come out of this wiser, stronger and more refined.
You can see the pain in our poetry when you read our words and our writings. You can see how much time, effort and skill we’ve put into our creations when you look at our drawings and our art. You can see how we have taken tremendous strides to break through the chains that they try to use to keep our minds shackled to ignorance and stagnation. You can see the beauty in our struggle as it shines through. We refuse to lay down, we refuse to give up, we refuse to be buried alive in these steel and stone cemeteries.
With a dictionary, we are armed. With a book of our own history, we are armed. With philosophy books, we are armed. And with the fundamentals of true, radical thoughts of resistance, we are armed and dangerous. Ready for life, ready for death, ready for freedom, and for revolution. We see what’s happening, and we know what’s happening, and we’re ready to make things happen. We strive for change, we strive for a sense of direction, for purpose and for self and collective elevation. And everybody knows that I could sit here all day and write about all the misery, pain and suffer, but today, as I write this, I wish you could see – my dear and beautiful friends – how brightly the light shines in a world of darkness.
We could not be strong in here, without the support of the people on the outs. We could not be organized, educated or liberated without solid support from the people. We appreciate the help, we appreciate the love. We appreciate the books, the money, the letters. We appreciate all that you do to help us sustain and maintain. We’d have no lifeline if it wasn’t for all the beautiful people out there, showing us love, solidarity and support. Without people like you in this world, we’d be lost, we’d be through. Thank you.
Before I close this, I just want to leave you with one more thought. Life in prison is a tragedy, we all know that. But in all honesty, sometimes I wake up feeling good about myself, feeling good about life, feeling good about the camaraderie and the spirit of resistance in the hearts of the men around me, and I have to get up and come to the door and yell out to somebody, “It’s a beautiful day!”.
With love for the people,
Nevada Prison Chapter (A.B.C.)
Ely State Prison, 2009
“Crime belongs to the concept “revolt against the social order”. One does not “punish” a rebel. One suppresses him. A rebel can be a miserable and contemptible man; but there is nothing contemptible in a revolt as such – and to be a rebel in view of contemporary society does in itself lower the value of a man. There are even cases in which one might have to honor a rebel, because he finds something in our society against which war ought to be waged – he awakens us from slumber”. – Friedrich Nietzsche