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.
Hello My Love,
I love you. You are an amazing woman in so many ways. You are by far my most valued treasure. I am blessed to have you in my life as my wife. You teach me so much about myself and what it takes to live in harmony with another person.
I love our communication skills and how we share our feelings with each other. The deeper we dive into one another, the more we learn. This learning curve inevitably exposes our differences, weaknesses, personal issues, and character flaws. We have proven to each other that love and communication conquers all. Thank you for loving me through all my defects and flaws. Thank you for opening up to me and trusting me with your heart.
Our marriage will last forever and thrive, because we truly communicate. We accept what IS as we constantly work to resolve issues and create acceptable remedies for each other. It feels so good to have this level of mental intimacy with you. And soon we will be physically intimate as well!
I love you!
( To read more of our letters, please visit our blog: Real Love Letters )
Real Love Letters: Falling in love through writing. The connection. The journey. The romance.
How could a vibrant, intelligent woman fall in love with a man in prison? To most people, it makes no sense. I don’t even fully understand it. Yet, I’m referring to my situation. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? That is the question a lot of people ask. And if they don’t ask it, they’re thinking it! The answer is better SHOWN, rather than told.
I invite you to follow our blog: Real Love Letters. It shows how a shy, introvert, Mormon girl falls in love with an outspoken, extrovert…who just so happens to be a convict serving 43 years in prison.
My wife, Suzie, and I know we have something special and unique. A powerful love unlike anything we’ve ever known. And now we have decided to share it with the world. We share our back and forth dialogue that started with a Prison Pen-Pal Ad, and continues all the way through falling in love and getting married.
I feel truly blessed that such an amazing and wholesome woman entered my life.
Real Love Letters is a testimony that true love knows no boundaries.
“I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by Occupational Deprivation.” ~Sandra Rogers
That single sentence stood out to me and is where the title of this post came from. First, I had to understand the meaning of Occupational Deprivation (OD). As far as I can tell, it means: The lack of meaningful activities. Hmmm…all of my activities have had some type of meaning behind them.
I hustled, gambled, sold drugs and tobacco.
The Meaning: to make money.
I got in fights.
The Meaning: to earn respect and to release pent up frustrations and aggression.
In a Penitentiary, or a Correctional Center, these truly are meaningful activities. If I want to spend the rest of my life locked up and miserable! Early on in my incarceration I knew I had to change. I wanted to change! (For an in-depth look, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)
The cure to Occupational Deprivation is Meaningful Activities. But for years, I was denied. I asked numerous DOC employees for help. The answer was always the same, “No. Those programs are for short timers…you have too much time.”
My misconduct would continue and I’d end up in the hole. Again! I shed many tears in The Hole. Because that’s when & where reality really hit! Prison. 43 years. The pain I’ve caused others. Isolation. Being a failure. A loser. The list goes on…
One time when I was in the hole they cuffed me and escorted me to the recreation enclosure. On the way there I saw a flier advertising Anger Management and Victim Awareness. These classes were available in the hole. Two classes I desperately needed. So I submitted a kite requesting them.
To my surprise, they denied me. The reason: I wasn’t doing enough time in the hole.
That pissed me off! While in population I’m denied for having too much time. And in the hole I’m denied for not having enough time. But if I seriously hurt someone and get, let’s say,12 months in the hole, then I’ll get the classes and my long prison sentence is no longer a factor.
It’s logic like this that’s so discouraging.
Lucky for me, I have a strong will and a burning desire for redemption (see: Redemption, It’s My Choice). Despite set back after set back, I continued to seek understanding as I took moral inventory of myself. As I write this and reflect back, I now see that I had the desire to get better, but I severely lacked in the “meaningful activity” department. Therefore, I struggled.
Occupational Deprivation was my program! And I suffered greatly because of it.
Today, my life is full of “meaningful activities.” And as a result, I’ve never been happier or more productive.
I go to NA Meetings, which I gain so much wisdom & knowledge from.
I’m in The Dog Program and I have the privilege of loving a dog named, Yahoo.
I graduated from my Redemption and Roots of Success classes because I wasn’t told, “No. You have too much time.”
I’ve started reading Influential Books, which I thoroughly enjoy.
I mentor those who are ready to hear positive messages. I lead by example so my words have greater impact.
I’m the nations leading blogger from behind bars.
I have meaningful relationships with the people I call Friends.
I have a job passing out commissary to thousands of guys.
I prepare healthy meals for myself and I workout regularly.
The list of “meaningful activities” goes on and on….and my most treasured one is my marriage. I have the most caring, loving wife any man could ever hope to have. Suzie has blessed my life beyond what I thought possible. The love I feel for her in my heart is stronger than any other feeling I’ve ever known.
All these “meaningful activities” have completely wiped out OD. Perhaps I should’ve titled this post, “How I Am Affected By Meaningful Activities.” Because this is where the beauty is. This is where true transformation is realized.
Its great to learn new terms and articulate my journey under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy. But the truth is: If someone wants change, they must want it for themselves, then relentlessly pursue it everyday for the rest of their lives.
It is now, after I am well on my way, that I make the connection between “meaningful activities” and rehabilitation. It would’ve been nice to learn all this years before I did. Better late than never.
I’ve asked my beautiful wife to attend this year’s “Significant Woman’s Event” with me. Her love is so special and dear in my life. Here, she shares the letter I wrote to her with my invitation…
I will always remember the exact moment I read this very letter. A flood of tender love & emotion ran through me and instantly healed my heart from hurtful words. I truly felt what it is like to forgive quickly and to forget all previous painful conversations. It was as though this letter hit the “refresh” button for my mind and heart.
It’s hard to explain, but I instantly felt safe. Such a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders in a single second, and replaced with pure wholesomeness & comfort. I completely love my husband and how he snuggles so perfectly into my heart and soul. ❤
Hello My Sweet Ladylove,
I love you…I miss you.
Early on in our relationship I said some things according to how I felt at that time. I said some things that formed in my mind as a result of being single, alone, and in prison…
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Just before December approached, I asked my wife, “Is there anything I can do for you this Christmas?”
She said, “Hmm, let me think about it.”
A couple days later she tells me, “I thought of something we can do together!”
I respond, “Reeeallly. And what might that be?”
“Well, you know how much I love Christmas…” she began.
My baby LOVES Christmas! She goes all out. She decorates her house and the tree, listens to Christmas music as she bakes, and much more.
She sent me 20+ Christmas cards throughout December, each one was different and full of love & life. Her words were full of comfort, encouragement, memories, hope, humor, and passion. My sweet lady even sent me a personalized paper Christmas Tree to hang in my cell!
We had date nights watching holiday movies/programs together at the same time. She also sent me TONS of pictures, too. Which I absolutely LOVE!
So YES!!! I know how much she loves Christmas and this time of year.
She continued, “I’d like for us to win this year’s Christmas Door Decorating Contest.”
We’ve done this together for the last 2 years. We’ve placed 2nd and 3rd, but haven’t gotten 1st place yet. So I respond in a skeptical voice, “You want to WIN IT?!”
She says in a confident & sweet voice, “Yes. Win it for us! You’re always telling me that we can do anything we set our minds to. Lets WIN IT! We’ll do it together.”
I perk up and say, “You’re right, baby! I’m going to win it just for you!”
I’ve put over 70 hours in on decorating my door. It looks AWESOME! My wife inspires me to go above and beyond. Every second I spend crafting this door into a masterpiece, I’m thinking of my beautiful, loving wife.
Even though we’re almost 900 miles apart, I feel a strong spiritual connection to her.
She sends me ideas, sketches, paper cut-outs, and all kinds of creativity for the door. I send her samples of those ideas and await her approval, or her suggestions of improvement. And I love it!
I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. She soothes my soul and puts nothing but love and joy in my heart. The way Suzie loves me is the best gift I’ve ever received. The warmest, most powerful feelings I’ve ever known are generated by this incredible woman and her love.
Because of her, this has been one of the BEST Christmas’s since childhood. As a matter of fact, she makes me feel like a child again with all the anticipation & excitement she brings to my life. She takes me up outta this gloomy, negative prison environment.
I have felt the Christmas Spirit so strongly. With every ounce of my strength & energy, I will love this woman the way God intended for a husband to love his wife.
For my wife’s perspective, please read her blog titled, Christmas With My Husband.
This event was beyond awesome!!!
As the women walked into the visiting room, all the men were already in there (normally it’s the other way around). All the men stood up and clapped as our beautiful women entered the room.
As my wife approached me, we both had huge smiles on our faces. I hugged her tight and felt her soft warm body against mine.
Then I went in for a kiss. As our lips were about to touch, I pulled back and just looked at my lovely lady. Her lips were puckered up and her eyes closed. A split second later, when she realized we weren’t kissing, she opened her eyes only to find me inches from her face, looking at her.
This made us both laugh a little.
Then I went in for a smooch. She closed her eyes and puckered up. Again, I pulled back.
She opened her eyes and said, “Baby!”
I said, “Okay, come on, for real this time.”
She closed her eyes and puckered up. I couldn’t resist…I pulled back and left her hanging once again.
By now we’re both laughing pretty good. That’s when I smother her face with dozens of short, quick, kisses all over. I’m kissing her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, her forehead, her lips…I’m all over her pretty little face.
She’s laughing as she moves her face side to side in a futile effort to get away. My theatrics are in over-drive as I continue to kiss her with a full complement of sound effects…”MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH MWAH…..”
Finally the madness stops, and we hug as our laughing subsides. Then I give her a soft slow sensual kiss on the lips. We smooch for a few seconds before I pull out her chair and help her sit down.
I show her the two corsages that I made for her. She decides she wants to wear the pink one. So I spend the next five minutes trying to figure out how to pin this thing on her without poking her.
We held hands and talked for a while. Then, the first of our three course meal is served.
The servers are inmates who act as professional servers. They are all wearing aprons. Some are even wearing chef hats.
We are served a salad, a pull-apart roll, cranberry juice, and water. Fifteen minutes later the main course arrives. It’s a chicken breast with a raspberry sauce, cooked asparagus, and red potatoes. This isn’t prison food! This is real quality well prepared food!
My wife realizes I rarely get to eat this good. So in addition to my meal, she feeds me several bites from her plate too. Awww, what a sweetheart. My baby is always looking out for me.
After the main course, dessert is served. It’s a moist chocolate brownie topped with ice cream, cool whip, and chocolate syrup. Mmmmm…that was the bomb-diggity! And of course my considerate, caring, loving, wife fed me bites from her plate too.
After lunch it was time to read the “gratitude letter” I wrote to her. So we walked to the booths that were specifically set up for this occasion. As we enjoyed an additional level of privacy, I read her the letter I wrote. It was a nice moment we shared.
Then came the time to dance. I waited for the music to start, then I stood up, extended my hand and asked, “May I have this dance?”
She said, “Yes.”
We danced through both songs.
After arriving back at our table, the event coordinator made an announcement. She said, “I need five couples to volunteer for the Newlywed Game.”
We raised our hands and got selected.
The women were escorted out of the visiting room while the men were asked four questions.
The first question: “What is your anniversary date, and her birthday?”
That one was easy…everyone got it right.
The second question: “What puts your wife in a good mood?”
I said, “Romantic love letters.”
She said, “Love letters & emails.”
The visiting room applauded our successful answer.
The third question: “What is your wife thinking right now?”
I said, “I love you.”
She said, “I love you baby.”
I heard a few “Awww’s” as the audience clapped.
The fourth question: “Who said ‘I love you’ first?”
I said, “I did.”
She said, “He did.”
All the men said, “I love you” first.
Everyone got that one right.
We answered all four questions correctly. Then it was time for the men to leave as the women answered four questions.
The first question: “What would your husband rather loose, his hair or his JP4 player?
She said, “His JP4 player.”
I said, “My hair.”
The audience laughed.
I can blog without hair! I need my JP4!
Second question: “What’s your husband’s favorite thing to do in here?”
She said, “Workout.”
I said, “Watch football.”
The third question: “When was the last time you two got in a fight?”
We both said the exact same thing, “NEVER”.
Suzie and I don’t fight. We may disagree at times, but we never fight.
The fourth question: “What’s the first thing he’s going to do when he gets out?”
She said, “Spend time with family.”
I said the exact same thing.
There were no prizes, except for the beautiful women by our sides. Everyone was laughing and having fun, and that made everyone a winner.
Suzie and I spent the next few hours loving each other and enjoying one another’s company. I am so blessed to have her as my wife. She has brought so many wonderful joys into my world.
Today was very special for the both of us. And I was able to tell her just how significant she is to me.
Suzie has brought love into my life. And she has sacrificed so much. I see her kind heart and I feel her loving soul.
The way she loves me…I’ve never felt such a love before. I wasn’t sure if I’d find a woman to love me, a man in prison with 18+ years left to serve. I am so thankful to have her by my side. She is serving this time with me as my partner and my best friend.
Every day, I recognize a certain strength in her. And I am constantly realizing just how much we have in common.
Thank you baby, for blessing my life with your incredible love, compassion, and devotion. I love you sooo much with all my heart!!!
(To read Suzie’s perspective of this event, to see an additional picture, and to read the gratitude letter I wrote…please read her blog called, A Special Day Together.)
I’d like to introduce you to Joe P. Guerrero. He is also an inmate blogging from prison.
His blog is called : Joe Writes His Wrongs
Joe is an awesome inspiration and he’s making the best of his time with something positive.
He has goals and ambitions, just as I do. We both are positive, like-minded men who are striving for success from behind bars, and we have big dreams for when we are released.
He has quality content and intriguing stories to share. A few of his blog titles are: A Positive Mindset In Prison, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, 8 Reason’s I’m Thankful To Be In Prison, Dumbing Down The Conversation, Never Give Up, Jen Joe & A Prison Phone, Walking In On A Rape, 10 Tips On Stress From A Guy In Prison, and Steven D. Jennings
Joe is a talented cartoon artist and an articulate writer. In fact, you should take a look at his short story ebook for sale on Amazon called, “Coffeeman Almost Dies During The Coffee Challenge“
Joe and I both have the love & support of amazing ladies in our life (Jen & Suzie). We know it takes a strong woman to be in a committed relationship with an inmate. And we are blessed to have them in our life. Their dedication is what helps make it possible to share our journey with you all.
I recognize the energy and devotion of both Joe & Jen. They have my support and my friendship.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3
To me, this means commit to the ways of the Lord by obeying the scriptures. If we apply the knowledge and wisdom within Gods word, a lot of positive things will happen in our lives. Our plans will succeed.
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7
Scripture after scripture describes what happens when we ignore the practical teachings of the Bible. For me, it was one fight after another. Today I still live around those same type of people I used to fight. That aspect has not changed. What has changed is the fact that I now live in accordance to the Bible. The results: I live in peace amongst several potential enemies.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Please read my blog, With Every Hardship Comes An Equal Seed of Opportunity. It describes my plans, my course. However, not once did I mention the Lord, my blog, or my wife & family. As I went back and re-read that post, I saw a mix-up in my priorities. My point is simple: I have planned my course, but somehow my steps have been altered. For the better. Thank you Jesus!
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts the Lord. Proverbs 16:20
My instructions are within these scriptures. These scriptures are my Lord, my God, my Jesus. I trust them with all my heart. With my own eyes, and with my life, I’ve seen the truth of them.
I love this stuff! Today I will obey the word of God.
Thank you for reading.
At some point almost everyone ponders the question, “Is there really a God?”
For years I kept that thought to myself. Even when I was on fire for the Lord. I wondered in the back of my mind if He was real.
I prayed thousands of prayers asking for clarity. I was conflicted. I still am conflicted. Is God real?
One thing that I am NOT conflicted on is the fact that if you live by the laws of the Bible, you’ll live a righteous life.
Early on in my incarceration, I turned away from religion. However, I continued to pray to a God that I didn’t know for sure even existed. I want to believe in God. But for some reason, my mind questions Him.
So for 15+ years I lived without God. I attempted to rehabilitate myself and to live a righteous life without Him. I attempted to do all the right things without God.
How’d that work out for me?
Not good! I continued to get in fights. I still had excess turmoil and conflict in my life. There was a key element I couldn’t figure out. There was something I didn’t quite understand. As a result, I continued to suffer.
For example: On 8/13/12, I went to the hole for no reason. They placed me on “Administrative Segregation”. (also known as: Ad Seg.) The Ad Seg Referral looked like this:
I couldn’t believe it! It all was a lie! At my Ad Seg hearing, they read me the entire referral then asked, “Do you understand why you’re in Seg?”
I said, “No.”
“What don’t you understand?” he said in a curt voice.
I said, “Everything in that statement is a lie.”
He responded, “The investigation will determine that.”
Then a lady on the committee asks, “Did they take $400 in your commissary from you?”
“No. They took about $195 in commissary. And I have a receipt for everything. My receipts are in a green folder marked “RECEIPTS.”
At this point a coupe committee people look at each other then shuffle through a few papers. The statement I just gave them is either true or false. There’s no gray area. There’s no debate. I have their full attention.
I break the silence by saying, “Some inmates are just mad at me, so they told you guys lies to get me in trouble. I’ve never strongarmed anyone. And I surely don’t need any protection.”
The lady quickly asks, “Why would inmates be mad at you?”
I pause for a moment of thought then say, “I’m not exactly sure. The only thing that comes to mind is something that happened last week.”
“What happened last week?”
I told her, “Some weirdo (see: Prison Glossary) kept on trying to talk to me. At first I was polite. But then he started to make a habit of it. So I told him to “get the f**k away from me and don’t ever talk to me unless I talk to you first.” Then I turned to his little weirdo crew and said, “That goes for all of you.’”
Again, the Ad Seg committee all looked at each other.
I offered one last statement, “I was telling people to leave me alone…not strongarming them.”
Three days later I was cleared of all charges. No infraction was written. They put me back in the same unit, and in the same cell. They apologized and gave me back all my commissary. I had to show receipts…but they gave it all back.
These type of things littered my life. I was not in harmony with the word of God. I did not live by the scripture. I would pray every now and then, but that was it.
Proverbs 18:7 says, A fools mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
Ain’t that the truth!
Today I use the Bible to guide me. I believe in the fundamental teachings. I apply the scripture to my daily living.
Does God exist? I don’t know. I can’t lie to myself. And I won’t lie to you. I am still conflicted.
But one thing I know without a doubt: When I live according to the Bible, my life is so much better. I truly feel blessed.
1 Peter 3:8
My humble prayer request: “Please God, show me the way.”