The following poem was written back in June of 1996. Back then I was a drug using, drug selling, violent little badass. I was at Walla Walla, living with Mikey and Jeff. When we were using drugs and smoking joints people use to walk by our cell, look in, and fiend. A lot of guys would stop at our bars and try to make small talk in hopes it would lead to a free hit, or a joint.
(To read more about this crazy time in my life, please check out my ebook called, STONE CITY: LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY. Specifically, Chapter: 7.)
TAKING THE EDGE OFF PRISON LIFE
Waking up slow to the practical jokes,
where coffee is a must and everyone smokes.
Take a deep breath you can smell the green,
as the broke walk by they look in and fiend.
People say I’m gone how I wish that was true,
the fact is that I’m here so let me tell you what I do.
I kick em in the face sometimes I choke em out,
But then I get away with it and that’s what its about.
So please don’t mess because I gotta confess,
when it comes to fighting dirty I’m one of the best.
So what if I’m small so what if you’re tall,
within ten seconds guarantee you will fall.
The hell with taking the edge off prison life,
its more like taking your head off with my prison knife!
That poem illustrates just how sick my thoughts were. As a result, my actions were extremely destructive. I was oblivious to the fact that I induced my own suffering and hardships.
Now, it is with a joyous heart that I share a more recent poem that was written on 10-25-13, in the midst of enlightenment and spiritual awakening. I am so blessed to have this gentle love in my life. THIS is what takes the edge off of prison life for me these days.
THE MAGIC OF HER LOVE
Love is like magic, at least it is for me.
I pulled a rabbit out the hat, and her name is Suzie.
She transformed my world, a cold hard place.
By showing me a warm soft glow, within the beauty of her face.
Our situation is unique, and to some very strange.
But there’s nothing in this world that love can’t change.
Her love is so pure, understanding and kind.
She loves with all her heart, body, soul and mind.
Her love is so powerful, it reaches my core.
Her love is a love I’ve never felt before.
Her love is a love in which I’ve been seeking.
Her love is a language in which I’m now speaking.
Her love is the love that inspires my life.
Her love is the love that I’ve found in my wife.
This is a poem I wrote 14 years ago in November of 2002. As I go back and read some of my older poems, I contemplate whether or not I should share them. And if I do share them, should I edit them? Naw, I’ll just give it to you how it is. Here goes:
THE SKY IS BEAUTIFUL
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
So I stare…
up into the peaceful blue,
f#@k this place and f#@k you too!
But I don’t feel like this when I’m up in a bliss,
where rainbows hug and clouds kiss.
Visions of life make up the o-zone,
as I look up from down here, I see it’s all gone.
Standing on the earth,
wondering what its all worth.
Looking in the sky,
is it where we go when we die?
Then why….am I already there,
locked in a vision with a cold dead stare.
Don’t trip on me because I’m tripping on this,
most points will hit, others will miss.
But that’s cool,
I’ll be the fool.
Or perhaps I’m a little too deep,
and the road to my mind is a little too steep,
I live my best hours in my sleep.
In my sleep I see in the sky,
instead of blue it’s black like when we die.
So what’s my point, what am I saying,
that life is better when our body’s decaying?
I don’t know, it kinda seems that way,
live my life and see what you say.
When living in the skies is your best damn times,
or the hours you spend when you close your eyes.
Or you could come on down and do it like this:
always be pissed,
constantly hurting over things you miss,
Its not living, you simply exist…
in a shadow of crime,
always doing time,
every second of the day,
but that’s not the case I’m happy to say…
Simply because I do it my way,
elevating up to where the birds play,
and loving the darkness at the end of my day.
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
Here is a poem I wrote back in the 1900’s…..1997 to be exact.
I remember it well. I was laying on my bunk staring at the ceiling…thinking…that I’m 24 years old with 39 years left to serve. I was also thinking about a girl I liked before I came to prison.
Sometimes I sit in my cell and I think of you girl,
and I think of the life I once had in this world.
I remember the feelings that I enjoyed so much,
now I long for the feelings created by your touch.
There’s so much pain that dwells in my heart,
it’s a pain that I feel in times I’m apart……
Apart from my family, my world, and love, passion filled romance is all I dream of.
There’s a pain I can’t fully explain,
but as I travel on it slowly drives me insane.
What will this do to me down the road,
after 20 years without a woman to hold.
The thought is scary the situation is real,
I’ve seen the results turn hearts to steel.
So I lay on my bed and look at the ceiling,
then my body gets chills from the love that I’m feeling.
I block out this joint with fantasies of you,
as I hope and pray for a love that’s true.
That was 18 years ago. As I read this poem, I’m struck by the part that says, “What will this do to me down the road, after 20 years without a woman to hold.” Because at the time I still had 40 years to serve. So why didn’t I say,”…after 40 years without a woman to hold.”?
But wait! There’s more. Suzie and I just had our 1 year anniversary. That means only 2 more years before we get our EFV’s. So the poem was right. From the time I wrote it, I’ll have gone 20 years without holding a woman…..soft and slow…..all night long….for 48 hours! OMGoodness. I get excited just thinking about it!
Wanna hear the type of poems I write when I get excited about our EFV’s? Naw…I better not.
But I will share this one…it’s called “Suzie”. I wrote it 12-24-12, just 3 weeks after we met.
Suzie excites my mind.
Is love blind?
It could be.
Look at you,
look at me.
We’ve never met.
Yet, this feeling I’ll never forget.
still I feel you in my heart.
With every letter,
this feeling gets better.
As we know each other longer,
my feelings get stronger.
It seems so crazy, these feelings so soon.
Met in December, married in June.
Absolute proof, our souls in-tune.
This love will make you a Mother.
First a daughter.
Then her brother.
Say the word and I’m all in.
A beautiful creation from within the pen.
Whatever you want I will do.
My love and devotion belongs to you.
Who knew life could be this sweet?
But that’s what happens when soul mates meet.
We didn’t get married in June. But I wanted to. I sent Suzie the marriage forms in only my 9th letter to her. I knew she was The One. When you know, you know. We have found true love in each other. 🙂
All of my poems are a reflection of how I was feeling at that time. Certain feelings inspire certain words. On 10-29-13, I was inspired by my amazing wife and our beautiful love (see: The Power of Love). So I grabbed my pen and paper and wrote this poem:
FOCUS ON LOVE
Life is a mixture of joy and pain,
blue skies, dark clouds, sunshine and rain.
All days can’t be bright, this we know is true,
what you choose to focus on is always up to you.
Seek out the positive in your life and cherish every day,
focus on the things you love and your blues will fade away.
Show a smile instead of a frown,
look up instead of down.
Shine your light a little brighter,
and watch your burdens get so much lighter.
Life is good life is great,
focus on love ignore the hate.
If you live in love with a heart that’s true,
then love will reflect in all you do.
And when love reflects in all you do,
it takes from the time of feeling blue.
* * *
If I knew back then what I know now…I wouldn’t be in prison. Early on in life I was on a dark path that lead to destructive behavior. Violence, suffering, hate, turmoil, conflict…they were all a constant theme in my life. As a result, my writing reflected that.
This next poem was written during my middle school years. There is no title. It says:
Now I lay myself to sleep,
I pray to hell my soul will keep.
No one knows what I plan to do,
but you’ll find out when life is through.
Through for who is what I wonder,
but you’ll find out 6 feet under.
As I read this today I shake my head in disbelief. I was around 12 years old when I wrote that! I could easily shed a tear right now. Left to my own demise, I didn’t stand a chance.
As I reflect back to my childhood, I can remember a re-occurring statement that teachers, principals, coaches, and other adults would say. They’d say that I was going to end up dead or in prison.
The first time I heard the “prison” version, I was in the 3rd grade.
The first time I heard the “dead” version, I was in the 9th grade.
Sure enough, I escaped death only to land in prison. Considering my options, I got lucky.
Even after I got locked up, my mindset didn’t change very much.
Here is a poem I wrote back in 1994, just 6 months after I arrived at the Snohomish County Jail. It’s called “Who’s Lucky” because that’s what I used to ask myself every time someone pissed me off in the jail. Am I lucky because I have a release date? Or is he lucky that I have a release date? The poem goes like this:
People are lucky I have a release date,
or taking a life I wouldn’t even hesitate.
I’m already in jail paying a price,
I often times wonder why am I so nice?
Hatred and violence run through my veins,
murderous thoughts invades through my brain.
I use to think my thoughts were something I’d inflict,
now I see without thinking my thoughts come out sick.
I feel like killing for little or no reason,
look at me wrong and your death would be pleasen.
And for all you punks who talk too loud,
I like watching your blood drip like drops from a cloud….
with a big fat shank piercing through your gut,
dying slowly, you deserve what you got.
By all means don’t cross my path,
if you’re a punk ass bitch who won’t take a bath.
You’re better off staying in your cell,
because your life will expire if I get one smell.
When I was drinking these thoughts I’d be thinking,
but now that I’m sober it’s starting to sink in……
That maybe I was born with blood to kill,
because every thought that I get is way too real.
Today I wouldn’t have the slightest desire to write such non sense.
Behind all the mental madness, there was a little place of peace and love. Here’s a poem that shows a glimpse of sunshine in the midst of a storm. It was written in August 1996:
LOOK FOR HAPPY THINGS
Look for happy things in life if you desire peace,
appreciate all that’s done for you and watch your love increase.
Things like a loving gentle smile or sincere words of cheer,
a sunrise or the precious time when twinkling stars appear.
Seek out the good in people and cast errors to the side,
fill your heart with love because that’s where good resides.
Drink in soul deep pleasure that nature gives to all,
enjoy the beauty of a rock bound shore or a cascading waterfall.
And do not forget the value of just a humble prayer,
it doesn’t matter where you are because God is everywhere.
Open your heart to children they fill this life with bliss,
who can deny the love of a baby’s tender kiss?
I hope you see just what I mean, look for happy things,
If you do that, then you’ll have love within a heart that sings.
PS – Dear Readers, I thought twice about sharing these violent poems with you. I wish to be transparent about my transformation and my journey. Would you rather I didn’t share violent poems on my blog? Let me know. Thank you.
Thank you Suzie for everything, the big
things and the small.
You bless my life in many ways
I appreciate them all.
Thank you baby oh so much, I give to
you my praise.
You’ve changed my life, you’ve given me hope
You’ve brought love to all my days.
As stars appear I say my prayer
and give thanks for you my dear.
Then close my eyes and fantasize
of the days I’ll have you near.
I reach for you, you hear my cries
in times of sudden need.
You take my hand, you soothe my soul
with thoughtful kindly deeds.
I’m so aware of your daily grace,
with you it’s no surprise.
I see your heart, I see your love
when I look into your eyes.
Thank you baby for the miracles
that I so clearly see.
I love you now, I’ll love you then,
I’ll love you for eternity.
My wife’s amazing love and support loads my heart with love, joy, and happiness. When I share my heart, these are the type of expressions you’ll find.
Mwah! A kiss for my wife.
A poem by Steven Jennings
Inspired by Knowledge
I can be your worst enemy or your best friend.
Treat me right and I’ll stay to the end,
Do me wrong and I’m gone like the wind.
I’m a powerful source and I give you good days,
I give you several options and show you many ways.
I’m the reason you love, I’m the reason you fight,
I’m the reason you lay awake on those long sleepless nights.
I give you comfort when times are bad,
I throw fuel on the fire and drive you mad.
I’m the reason you act the way you do,
I provoke every thought inside of you.
I can make you argue and control what you say,
I’ll decide whether or not you have a good day.
I’m the strongest influence when it comes to you,
I control every little action that you do.
I’m that angel on your left and that devil on your right,
I’ll drag you through the darkness as I keep you from the light.
I hate it when you lie and ignore what I think,
You cause turmoil and conflict that puts us outta sync.
Stay true to yourself, be honest, be kind,
And I’ll stay true to you.
Sometimes it’s so hard to do what’s right,
We get deceived like Eve when she first took the bite.
Adam knew it was wrong but chose to follow his girl,
Together they brought sin into this world.
Sin kept growing and was getting worse,
So God filled the clouds with water until one day they burst.
The clouds were grey, the sky was dark,
It rained till everyone died except for those in the Ark.
It was an event to let man know,
God does not like sin and He’s in control.
It didn’t take long for it to come around again,
The second we’re born our blood contains sin.
So what can we do? God has His plan,
And this time it differed from flooding the land.
He came to this world in the flesh and blood,
He lived a sinless life to show how it’s done.
Jesus never once sinned, not even at the end,
He loved all of the people, even the wicked men.
As He was up on the cross facing death,
He asked for forgiveness of the men who were taking his breath.
The love that lives in Jesus can live in us too,
If only we dedicate our lives and serve Him with a heart that’s true.
He’ll forgive us of our sins time and time again,
And when it’s time to go to heaven, He’ll gladly let us in.
Inspired by the desire to change my ways.
Inspired by desiderata and bright beautiful days.
With a humble heart, I bring you, “Striving For Tranquility” …
Rise above the noise and hate, and float on a cloud of serenity. Absorb the tranquility found within silence.
Without compromising your morals and integrity, try to be on peaceful terms with everyone.
When you speak you repeat what you already know, when you listen you create an opportunity to grow. So listen to everyone, including the loud, aggressive, and vexations, for they too have the ability to teach, even if it’s how not to act.
In a world full of rapid change, be prepared to alter your course but not your focus. Embrace your plans and remember your achievements. Remain enthusiastic about your goals and always finish what you start.
Gain specialized knowledge in your business affairs and always research the answers before you ask the questions. If they can fool you, they can beat you. The world is full of trickery. Let this not discourage you. Stay alert and strive for high goals. The world constantly offers unlimited success.
Be yourself. Stay true. Do not feign for affection. Do not force love. For in the face of aridity and deception, the universe has a beautiful plan for you. Be patient.
Take kindly the wisdom of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Harness the strength found in good times to shield you in sudden misfortune. Do not stress over imaginings, just be prepared. Stress is a choice.
Always be gentle with yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Create your own pleasures and visit them often. In the face of adversity, stay positive.
You are a child of the Universe. Like all living creatures, you have a right to be here. Be kind and genuine, the universe will respond.
Be at peace with mankind, and whatever your passions and desires, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace within your soul.
With all its shame, violence, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Choose to focus on all the beauty. Surround yourself with positive people. And enjoy your existence on planet earth as a human being.
For me, the hardest part of achieving success from prison is being patient. A task that should only take a few hours, takes days. A task that should take a few days, takes weeks, months, and sometimes years!
I finished writing the manuscript for “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary” back in 2009. It’s now 2013, and it’s still not published.
At times I feel extremely discouraged. But I refuse to allow that discouragement to affect me in a negative way. Instead, I use the power within my mind to re-channel that energy into a positive force.
This poem is an example of that. It was late and I couldn’t sleep. I was frustrated & discouraged due to a lack of progress regarding my book. I didn’t like how I was feeling. So I sat up in bed, clicked on my reading lamp, and wrote this poem. Enjoy!
In the dark,
My mind sparks,
My vision ignites,
My soul excites.
My future is divine.
The past is mine.
I’m no longer blind.
I see what I want,
I know what I’ll get.
Patients is a virtue,
I’ll never quit.
My mind is my God,
I pray everyday.
I cut my own path,
I lead my own way.
My God is alive, sleek, and stealth,
He dwells in the midst of my inner wealth.
Look where you’re at,
Now look at me.
Who’s in prison,
Who is free?
Who has passion,
Who has desire,
Who is honest,
Who is the liar?
Where most would fail,
Success is in my blood,
I love to bleed.
We only live once,
What are you doing?
43 years in prison,
My life still isn’t ruined.
Perception is reality,
My mind is strong.
Life is short,
Prison is long.