Joseph, 67

Joseph, 67


Meet Joseph…

From slavery to unity, through suffering and scorn,
Katrina can’t break us as Americans,
Like before, we’ll weather the storm.

Joseph, 67
Incarcerated: 32 years
Housed: Kern Valley State Prison, Delano, CA

Americans will be the winner

Now, how do I describe the pain and hurt or say what I deeply feel,
Just the thought of what I seen and heard of Katrina, all man, I’m feeling seriously ill,
To the core of my bones, I felt a horribly and nasty cold chill,
When I heard the levee broke, I mean, man tell me what the real deal
Sure all the people were warned before Katrina came crashing through,
But the deft, dumb, cripple, old and blind, what were they suppose to do,

The flood water problems were known to hit, many, many, many, years ago,
Major computerized testing, for the levy’s weakness, against the flood waters flow,
Now, all of a sudden I’m hearing rumors, and claims that the government didn’t even know,
Man, I’m not trying to heart that crap, come on people say it isn’t so,
The President and FEMA, but not everyone,

Was untimely with relief efforts to get the job done,
Walmart donated water, needed gas, and food was donated too,
But FEMA turned those items away, without a clue as to what they was suppose to do,
Now, if most the people in the Katrina Disaster were white instead of black,
The question must be asked, would a majority all white American Government,
Held those relief efforts back,

Now, maybe I’m just suffering with an illusion from all the Katrina misery,
Or is it true that, Dogging Blacks is the fiber of White American History,
But there is a side of the Katrina Disaster that I must say is very bright,
Most Americans, Celebrities, and the whole world is helping,
And many of those people or White,
What hurt’s me real bad in this Katrina situation,
Was the Women, Children and little babies crying,
People begging for help and food,
While older people were left dead with animals dead or dying,
Americans are Black, White, Red, Yellow and Brown,
Just to name a few,

And we will get busy and turn this disaster around,
That’s just what Americans do,
Can you feel the pain of my profuse crying,
Please Lord take the stake from my heart,
Because I feel like dying,
There are no amount of words that can truly express how ill I feel,
I can understand the looters,
People gotta eat,
Man, just keeping it real,
But the raping of little girls and women,
My God, gave me a real cold chill,

Got no time now for pointing the finger,
And that’s a natural fact,
But, can we all just get along,
At least until we get Louisiana and Mississippi back,
Now, we all know it’s only right for us,
To mourn for all those that die,
But, all the death, and hungry People crying for help due to Katrina,
Made blood, sweat and tears fall from my eyes,
But, I have faith and hope in the Unseen,
And the bells of liberty and freedom from this disaster will continue to ring,

And as I reflect on the late great Martin Luther King,
I know Americans will grasp the vision,
And fulfill the dream,
We will get up and rebuild Louisiana and Mississippi,
And I mean like never before,
For the whole entire world to see,
And none will be able to ignore,
So we get to stand the coarse together oh mighty Americans,
Stand the course and fight the good fight,
Put aside all out petty differences,
And let all of Humanity see how we can unite.

Americans, you know how we can do it,
Believe me, there’s no doubt in mind,
Cause we’ve already been thru hell and back,
As revealed throughout the annals of time,
From slavery to unity, through suffering and scorn,
Katrina can’t break us as Americans,
Like before, we’ll weather the storm,
We must remember to focus on the sunshine,
As we march bravely through the night,
Be strong through all the hurt, pain and death due to Katrina,
Cause we walk in faith, and not by Sight,
This Hurricane opponent who left all the damage,
Newscasters have named it Katrina,
But when it’s all over said and done,


Anthony R’s Gallery

Anthony R’s Gallery


Artist Anthony, 32

My story is similar to a lot of people who know what it’s like to want more out of life, while struggling to become the best version of themselves. However, the road I traveled wasn’t paved with blue skies and flowers. I grew up alongside three brothers during the ‘90s, raised by a single father who thought the central valley of California would be safer than the cold, southside of Chicago. It soon became obvious that the ugliness of poverty was anywhere we called home, yet my father still managed to give his best. Throughout my early childhood, I learned to busy myself in order to blur out the bad things. I picked up books and read until I was no longer in my reality, but immersed in the story and world created by the author. This began my curiosity with creative writing and anything to do with the arts.

As humans, we all have the ability to express ourselves in many different ways, whether negative or positive. Myself, I choose to mix the two in order to create a strong, captivating message in hopes of inspiring change.

Robert, 34

Robert, 34

Meet Robert…

I’ve learned that in order to get a second chance in prison, you have to use your time productively and not allow negative people to control the outcome of your life.

They told me prison was the best thing to happen to me. When I asked why, I always got the same answer. You’d be dead out here or doing life. Thinking about it now they were right. I was so lost, drugs controlled me. Prison isn’t a place anyone should need to come to, but if I hadn’t – things would be different. I’m trying to continue to make my time productive. Currently, I’m setting out to get into college and obtain an AA degree with the last three years I have left. There’s two current paths I’m looking into. One, I’d like to start a bakery and two, counsel young kids who are in gangs and grew up like me, to give them a chance out of that lifestyle. I’ve learned that in order to get a second chance in prison, you have to use your time productively and not allow negative people to control the outcome of your life. So I’m thankful for prison and what I’ve learned along the way.

Anthony, 32

Anthony, 32

Meet Anthony

As the line moves closer and closer to the courtroom where dozens of verdicts and releases await, I can’t but help to think about a Cattle Slaughterhouse and the similarities between it and jailhouse court.

It’s dark and hot in this room. I couldn’t sleep with the anxiety and nervousness surging through my body.

Why do court days always seem to steal precious sleep from me? God, I hope the judge goes easy on me – My heart beats a lil faster as I think, what if the judge says, 42 in prison,

NO, I can’t think negatively.

I try to stay positive and understand that I can only do so much and not control the outcome of my situation, yet regardless of what happens my ultimate focus is me and working on myself in the areas that have been problematic for me.

This realization calms me, and I am able to clear my mind and breathe deeply. I am feeling lighter – weightless and at peace.

There’s an eerie silence as herds of inmates – both male and female are quickly escorted into the courthouse.


“Keep it moving” shouts officers impatiently ushering the herds to the executioners, I mean judges, it’s funny by comparison.

I’m doing my best to stay calm, but things just don’t feel right and I notice how the shackled humans go inside the courtroom but aren’t returning the usual way. As a group of us, shackled and nervous enter a small musty holding cell bearing a stagnant toilet, and one wooden bench displaying dozens of gangs and members’ artistically carved forever into it. I refuse to add myself to that list and somehow trap my soul forever to this cold musty room, so I stay standing – listening to my heartbeat thunder the background noise of exaggerated talk from other idiots who are just as nervous as me.

“Anthony!” shouts the bailiff. “Get ready, you’re next.”

I suddenly feel sick and break out in a cold sweat. As I straightened myself I hear the heavy cell door loudly unlock and swing open.

“Ready?” the bailiff smiles suspiciously as he asks. All I can do is give a nod in the affirmative, I step into the corridor that has two ends. Shackled, I am escorted into the courtroom where surprisingly I am met by a room darker than a starless night with the moon hidden behind clouds.

A chill runs down my spine as I think “This isn’t right”. Suddenly I am tightly restrained to a cold metal chair by my feet, arms and waist – similar to the electric chair. I don’t remember this being a part of the process?

Next I see the judge or who I think may be the judge, Just that he’s wearing white instead of the traditional black gown…odd? And, oh wow! Are those stains on his clothing? …something is definitely not right.

“What’s going on” I say, but immediately I am answered by a long metal rod shoved into my side delivering a strong, sharp electrical shock, causing me to sag into the metal chair.

The judge stands and reveals himself. A butcher? Wearing what now appears to be a white blood-stained apron. The judge shouts “Guilty!” laughs sinisterly and pulls a lever that brings to life machinery out of view. My chair suddenly spins me into the direction where the noise from the hidden machinery seems loudest.

Slowly I am transported, and despite my shouts of defiance and struggles, the judge continues to yell “Guilty! Guilty!” closer to the loud machinery, what now sounds like grinding I can hear screams of others who are pleading for mercy. But to no avail.

My heart is pounding painfully in my small 18 year old chest, with swarms of questions and regrets flooding my mind – all unfortunately unanswered…next, my chair stops and begins to lift me forward allowing gravity to pull me down towards the menacing sounds of grinding and I feel myself slowly pulling from the chair closer to my slaughter.

“Here it comes” as the last strap frees itself from my waist, I feel light, weightless and strangely at peace, as if I’m suspended in a slow freefall.

“Anthony!” The intercom in my cell loudly crackles on, startling me from my sleep. “Anthony, get ready – you have court today.” It was just a dream…yet, I swear I thought I heard the sounds of machinery grinding at the end of that message.

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