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.
Back in 1996, I lived with a couple heroin junkies at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wa.
They tried like hell to get me to shoot up that brown liquid syrup. I was offered hundreds of dollars in free dope to “just try it”.
I held my ground and refused. However, I did break weak and smoke some of that icky sticky boom-bonic supersonic chronic. AKA: Weed.
It was only a matter of time before I got caught. My first dirty UA (urine analysis) cost me 180 days of good time.
Thats when I decieded that smoking weed in prison is a bad idea.
To this day I have passed every UA with ease…simply because I don’t use drugs. I’ve been clean and sober for over 10 years.
I’ve never suffered from addiction to narcotics. My problem was alcohol & fighting.
So why NA?
Because my counselor told me I must attend NA for 6 months in order to get back my 180 days of good time.
As I’m sitting in my first meeting, the speaker gives a brief speach as to what NA is and how everyone is to introduce themselves.
He explains that EVERYONE is an addict, regardless of how much they used, what they used, how little they used, or how long they’ve been clean.
The introductions start and goes around the room. When it gets to me I say,”My name is Steven, I’m an addict.”
Those words coming from my mouth didn’t feel right. I immeadiatly start to question wheather or not I want to be here. A negative attitude started to creep.
Because the truth is…I am not an addict. I’m only here because I smoked weed 20 years ago. And these meetings were assigned to me in order to earn back 180 days my good time.
I close my eyes and focus…meditate.
I recognize that NOW is the time I need to control my mind and re-evaluate my thinking. Now is the time to put everything I’ve learned into action.
Thoughts are things. And different thoughts create types of manifestation. If I’m negative, I’ll recieve negativity. If I put nothing in, I’ll get nothing out. My perception is my reality.
So right then and there, I changed my mindset. I did away with the compulsive thinking that was leading down a path of negativity. And I replaced it with positive thinking.
Such as : “These meetings CAN help me and assist me in my rehabilitative efforts.”
I came up with a goal : To Broaden My Perspective
I flipped open the big blue book in front of me. It’s called, “Narcotic Anonymous (sixth edition)”
As I read through the table of contents I realized I could identify with alot of what I was reading. Especially if I substitute a word or two.
On pg 15, it says, “We can no longer blame people, places, or things for our addictions. We must face our addictions and our feelings.” (I substituted the word “addiction” for “problems”)
I like the philosophies and principals that NA represents. I will use this program to broaden my perspective as I focus on issues within my life that I need to overcome.
And so far, it’s working!
I’ve overcome the “My name is Steven, and I’m an addict” thingy.
I’m focused on the positive opportunities that NA offers. All I have to do is attend with an open mind and a positive attitude. From there, everything else will work out the way it should.
The place: Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, WA.
The year: early 90’s
Gordon was entering his 35th year of incarceration for a variety of convictions, including 1st degree murder. Although he stands 5’8” and only weighs 140 lbs., he’s a heavy weight amongst his peers.
Don was entering his 18th year of incarceration for a variety of drug and weapon convictions.
One day the 62 year old Gordon approached the 35 year old Don and said, “Hey man, wanna make some easy money?”
Don gave him a skeptical look. “Doing what?” he asked.
Gordon turned and faced the handball courts, then said, “I got this fool right over there,” he pointed, “that says he can whip your ass at handball.”
Don says, “Who you pointing at? Larry?”
Gordon replies, “Yeah! You know him?”
“Not really,” Don says, “We’ve played a few games, but that’s about it.”
“I know,” Gordon says, “I watched you beat him yesterday. That’s how I know you can beat him. That’s why I want to bet on you!”
Don pauses for a second. Then asks, “How do you know he’ll bet?”
Gordon gets stern and says, “Listen, I already talked to him. It’s all set up. All you gotta do is bring your ‘A’ game and go whip his candy coated ass! Can you do that?”
Don is a little reluctant because he knows he could lose. Gordon watched ONE game that Don just so happened to win. That doesn’t mean Don will win all the time. There have been days when Don loses 3 or 4 games in a row to Larry. And vice versa.
But Don doesn’t want to look like a Chump to Gordon. So he says, “These shoes are trash,” as he shows the left side all blown out, I can’t run in these at all!”
Gordon is wearing a new pair of Nikes. He asks, “What size you wear?”
Don says, “10.”
“Here! These are 9 ½.,” As he slips them off.
Within seconds the shoe swap was done.
As they walk to the court Gordon says, “Win and I’ll hook you up with some of that sh*t.”
Don says, “Sounds good…I got this!”
The first game is a very close game. Don loses.
Before the second game starts, Gordon pulls Don aside and says, “Listen you little f*cker, I’m betting fifty bucks a game here! Now get your sh*t together and win!”
Don wins the second game.
Half way through the third game, Don grabs his chest and falls to the ground. He’s having a massive heart attack!
“Man Down…Man Down!!!!” Larry yells up to the gun tower. The guard calls a medical emergency.
Gordon runs out on the court and tries to untie his shoes that are on Don’s feet. But the guard up in the tower yells, “Get back! Get back NOW!”
Gordon backs up. It’s either that, or risk getting shot. These Walla Walla guards don’t play. They will shot and kill!
Within a few minutes a team of prison medics and guards are strapping Don to a big orange gurney.
Everyone is fairly quiet until Gordon yells out, “Hey man! Those are my shoes!!!”
A chorus of sick laughter ensues as a few dozen sick minds find humor in Gordon’s antics.
Within a few hours the news started to spread that Don died of a heart attack. Gordon never did get his shoes back.
And life in the Penitentiary went on.
Convicts want to control as much as they can. Back in the day (prior to 2004), everyone sat in the same seat at the chow hall. New guys were constantly getting ran off until they found a seat that could be theirs day in & day out. This caused so much drama, that prison officials now enforce assigned seating.
Back in 1992, at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, there was a new guy that went by the nickname “Cat Piss.”
Seriously! He introduced himself as “Cat Piss.” Why? Because he cooked so much meth, and he used so much meth, that he literally smelled like cat piss. It continued to ooze from his pores and scalp, even months after he got locked up.
His first day at the Washington State Penitentiary, Cat Piss sat in the wrong seat. Cat Piss is about 6’4” and 200 lbs.
Matt approached him and said, “This seat is taken. Go ahead and finish your meal, but don’t sit here again.”
Cat Piss just looks at Matt, then continues to eat. Matt dumps his tray and leaves without ever sitting down.
Matt is about 6’ and 190 lbs. He is in prison for robbing and stabbing to death a pill dealer. He got 60 years. When he was 27 years old.
The next day Matt comes to the chow hall to find Cat Piss in his seat again.
Matt says, “Hey man, I was nice enough to let you finish your meal yesterday. But today, you need to get the f*ck outta my seat.”
Cat Piss stands up and towers over Matt.
Matt backs up and re-thinks the situation. Then he says, “Look man, just find another seat. I won’t tell you again.”
Matt dumps his tray and leaves again without eating.
A few hours go by, and its chow time again. And sure enough, Cat Piss is sitting in Matt’s seat.
Matt doesn’t say a word. He walks up behind Cat Piss and pulls out a razor sharp 3 inch plexiglass shank. Before Cat Piss can react, Matt has stabbed him in the side three times. Then four-five-six-seven…
Matt has Cat Piss on the ground as he grips his hair with his left hand and drives the shank in & out of Cat Piss’s mid-section.
By the time the guards break it up, Cat Piss has been stabbed over 40 times. And that’s how Matt got the nickname “Slash.”
Moral of the Story: Don’t come to prison and disrupt the flow of things. Find an empty seat, and get in where you fit in.
So you wanna break wind while everyone is enjoying a home cooked meal, huh? Alright you son-of-a-b*tch, I’ll see you in the yard!
Shane is a 28 year old skinhead from Idaho. He was in Washington State picking up a garbage bag full of hallucinogenic mushrooms (aka: shrooms). Before he could cross back into Idaho, he got pulled over by a state trooper. Book em Dano! He ended up getting 6 years.
Shane is one nasty dude. He loves ripping nasty ass farts. He even eats match heads because he says the sulfer makes his farts smell even worse. At the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, he lives in a 4-man cell. The fart games are constant in that cell.
As one guy sleeps, another guy will pull down his pants and place his naked ass inches from his sleeping celly’s face. Then he’ll blow his hair back with a hot stinky gust of ass air. The victim of this practical joke wakes up to the other 3 laughing, and nose full of microscopic sh*t particles. Later he returns the favor by farting in his hand and rubbing it in his celly’s face.
It’s an ongoing cycle that never ends. So naturally, Shane continues his rude antics outside of his cell too. That includes the chow hall. A place where everyone gathers to eat. And not everyone is fond of the “fart game.” Especially Danner.
Danner is an old school convict who’s been in & out of prison since the early 80’s. He’s hardly amused and only has one smile that very few people have ever seen.
So when Shane let one rip in the chow hall, Danner reacted. “Come on you nasty mother f*cker, show some god damn respect and clinch your ass cheeks.”
Tension instantly filled the sh*t scented air. Danner wasn’t messing around, and everyone knew it.
Shane attempted to save face, “Oh come on Danner, lighten up. It was only a joke.”
Danner replied with more agitation in his voice, “It wasn’t a f*cking joke! Jokes are funny. You farting in the chow hall is not funny. Don’t do it again!”
Shane’s pride was wounded by Danner’s choice words. So rather than talk sh*t back with his mouth, Shane talked more sh*t with his ass. He lifted one butt cheek off the seat and pushed as hard as he could. His ass ripped the loudest, longest fart anyone has ever heard in the chow hall.
Several guys started laughing. Now Danner’s pride was wounded. Danner stood up and grabbed his tray. He said, “Alright you son-of-a-b*tch. I’ll see you in the yard!”
Sure enough, that night Danner beat the crap outta Shane. It wasn’t even a close fight. Danner knocked him out with one punch, then proceeded to kick Shane in the head and face. He stopped only after a warning shot was fired from the gun tower.
Moral of the story: Don’t fart in the chow hall. And if you do, say your sorry.
Reflections of yesterday reinforce the lessons of today. Life is redundant. So why not learn from your past in order to improve today?
I am constantly running into situations that used to piss me off. The negative situations are still all around me. That hasn’t changed. In the past I would respond with harsh words and violence. Look where that got me!
Luckily, there is another way to cope with life. A way that leads to a softer, more graceful path. On this path, life is easier, less stressful, and the people are more compatible.
This “path” involves replacing old habits of compulsive thinking and negative reactions, with new habits of perspective. Perspectives from the standpoint of love, understanding, and forgiveness.
The results: A calm, peaceful, happy, satisfying life.
I used to get all worked up over the smallest things. One example is when I told a guy named Eric to, “get in and play your aces.” We were Pinochle partners and he kept getting his aces cut.
He replied, “You play your game, and I’ll play mine.”
It happened again! He got in and didn’t play his aces. We went set! I got mad.
I told Eric, “If one more of your aces get cut, I’m coming across this table and slapping your face.”
Eric said, “Yeah, I don’t see that happening. You’re not that stupid.”
I was already so worked up, emotionally, that I instantly reacted. I reached across the table and slapped his sassy little mouth. This happened back in 1999 at Walla Walla.
Today I closely examine my actions of the past. I clearly see how I used to get worked up over things that aren’t really a big deal. I would focus on little problems & concerns and then blow them WAY out of proportion.
Just the other day I was playing Pinochle. My partner kept getting his aces cut. After the second time, I wanted to say something to him. But I didn’t. I just let it go.
We lost that game. As they were ready to start a new game, I excused myself from the table and told them I had other things I needed to do. And that was it. Done. Very simple.
I can list tons of examples of things that still happen. Things that don’t sit well with me. Things that have the potential to bother me…if I let it.
But that’s just it….I don’t let it!
Instead, I have compassion towards the bothersome person. I’ll make it a point to say something nice. In doing so, I’m able to maintain my own sense of well-being. I’m able to continue down a peaceful harmonious path.
I’m learning to ignore all the things that don’t serve me well. As a result, my life is so much better.
Back in the day I would sweat the smallest things. My life was full of conflict, stress, turmoil, etc. I was completely outta touch with all the positive beauties of life.
Now that I’m committed to all things good, I find that I have more energy to focus on the positive. Life is good!
MORAL: Don’t sweat the small stuff…focus on the positive.
This is a story about Moody.
Moody is a big ol heavy set ex-Marine. In 2004, he was dishonorably discharged for being a jackass.
Upon discharge, Moody took his military skills and applied them to the drug trade. Meth to be exact. He was pretty successful, making about $20K a month.
Today he’s serving 27 years for murder 1. In 2006, he shot and killed a Tacoma man who owed him drug money. DOC policy says inmates who are convicted of Murder1, have to serve 4 years in maximum security before they are eligible for medium/minimum security.
The Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla (AKA: The Walls) is maximum security.
Stafford Creek Correction Center (SCCC) in Aberdeen, WA is medium/minimum security.
Walla Walla is a rough, violent, hardcore place.
SCCC is a mellow, easy breezy, facility that has one of the lowest amounts of violent incidents in the country.
So after 4 years of Walla Walla, Moody comes strolling into SCCC with his chest puffed out like he’s Billy Badass! This was back in 2010.
Right away I didn’t like him. But I was nice and respectful towards him. Mainly because I didn’t want him to give me cause to beat his ass. I was applying tactics and strategies that help me get along with people I don’t care for.
Over the next couple of years I watched Moody bully the weak. He’d spit on people, pull their hair, slap their faces, threaten to stab them, and be very verbally abusive.
I was amazed at how long this went on. SCCC is full of snitches. There were a few times when someone went and told. But Moody always seemed to talk his way out of it. He did go to the hole for three days after he threatened to stab a guy in a wheelchair. But for the most part, Moody was getting away with more misconduct than I’ve ever seen.
It was only a matter of time before the law of attraction caught up with him.
The first big blow came in the form of a rumor. Someone came in from Walla Walla and told everyone that Moody was getting buttf**ked by his cellies back at The Walls. It was also said that Moody ratted out his cellies then checked into PC (Protective Custody).
What a turn of events! Moody’s status instantly dropped down to the level of sex offenders and rats.
Of course Moody denied it. But too many people started to confirm the rumors. The damage was done. The prison population deemed the rumors to be true. As a result, a lot of people stopped associating with Moody. He was forced to find his place within the exact crowd he bullied. He became the leader of the weirdos, the weak, and the lames. (see: Prison Glossary)
One day he got into a heated argument with one of his minions. This argument took place all down the breezeway and into the chow hall. The longer it went on the larger the audience grew. No one really likes Moody. Not even his weak minions.
They were now verbally ganging up on him. Moody found himself out numbered. That’s when he crossed the line and started calling them punks and bitches (knowing they weren’t going to do anything about it).
But one did. The minion replied, “At least we didn’t check in at Walla Walla, or get humped in the booty…Moody Moody.” The minions all laughed. As did several others.
Moody snapped! He grabbed his tray of food and hit one of his minions right in the face with it. Food flew everywhere! Some even landed on a C/O that was just a few feet away.
They cuffed up Moody and the guy with food all over his face. As they were escorted to the hole, the minion shouts, “Typical Moody, pulling a PC move in front of the police!”
Within three days, the minion is back on mainline. Moody stayed in the hole for 30 days. The day Moody gets out, someone confronts him. This someone is a known badass. Moody clams up. He only picks on the weak.
Dude snatches Moody’s ID off his chest and throws it in the urinal. Then he pisses all over it.
Moody runs to his cell and slams the door. Everyone is laughing at him. An hour later Moody comes out. His ID is still in the pisser. He grabs it with his bare hand and washes it. Then he returns to his cell for the rest of the day…skipping dinner.
The next day I see Moody sitting at a table all by himself. I sit next to him. He instantly gets defensive and says, “Leave me alone, I don’t want to hear it, I’m not in the mood!”
“Relax”, I say. “I come in peace. You look like you could use a friend.”
“I don’t have any friends in here”, he barks.
“That’s because your mean to everyone and your always in a negative, bad mood”, I say.
He says, “No. It’s because I’m in prison and everyone in here is a two faced back stabber.”
I roll my eyes. “Come on man! Be realistic with me. I just wanna give you some food for thought. But you gotta take it seriously and be realistic. If you do, I promise you, your life will be so much easier in here.”
“I doubt it!” he says in a dejected voice.
“Do you wanna hear me out?” I ask.
“Feel free”, he says.
“Just be nice to people” I say.
We look at each other for a few seconds. He’s waiting for me to say more. “That’s it?” he asks.
“That’s it!” I say. I continue, “I challenge you to be nice to everyone you encounter for the rest of today. Just try it and see what happens.”
He says, “I doubt it’ll do any good at this point”.
I ask him, “Would you at least like to try? Just to see if anything comes of it?”
I can see he’s at least considering it. I say, “Go over to that table (I nod towards a table of three) and say, “good afternoon gentlemen, would you guys like to get a friendly game of pinochle going?””
Moody gives a sarcastic chuckle and says, “Yeah right. Those guys hate me.”
“So what?” I say. “You gotta start somewhere.”
After about ten minutes, I finally talk Moody into doing it. To Moody’s surprise the guys accept his offer.
To this day Moody has no idea I set up that table of three with a few of my Christian friends. At first they were skeptical and didn’t want to do it. One guy even said, “It’ll never work because Moody would never approach us like that.”
I just said, “You let me worry about that. Are you guys down if I can get him to approach you?” They agreed.
For the next 90 minutes I saw a side of Moody that no one had ever seen. He was smiling and getting along with others. I wish I could say that was a turning point in his life and he’s a changed man. But the truth is, they moved Moody to a different unit where I hear he’s in constant turmoil.
The point of this story is simple. Moody lives a conflicted, hostile life because of the way he treats others. NOT because he’s in prison.
Peace and harmony can be found anywhere. It all starts within.
My desire to help Moody came from a place of love and compassion. I saw he was struggling. I knew I could help. I wish it could’ve been longer than a 90 minute card game. But at least a seed was planted.
So now, every time I see Moody in passing, I remind him of “cause and effect”. I point out that card game to illustrate that peace and harmony is waiting for him if he wants it.
As of today, Moody still struggles.
This is a law that cannot error.
In a previous post I talked about a violent stabbing. Although Troy didn’t do the actual stabbing, he played a key role in setting it up.
Troy served 14 years from 1992-2006. During that time he built a fierce reputation. Although he never did any of his own dirty work, everyone knew he had the power to order stabbings, beat-downs, and anything else.
For years he ranked high within the prison hierarchy. He called the shots and controlled the heroin. He was respected by many and feared by even more.
Believe it or not, Troy and I were good friends. We were even cellies for a while.
After Troy got released, he took his convict mentality to the streets. To everyone’s surprise, he stayed out for 5 years. To no one’s surprise he came back with over 20 years to serve.
A lot changed in those 5 years. Walla Walla was different. There had been a shift in power. There was a new kingpin sitting atop the prison hierarchy.
Troy moved in too fast and tried to regain his status. As a result, Troy got stabbed by a new breed of youngsters. For years Troy got away with all kinds of violence. But it was only a matter of time before the law of attraction came full circle.
I see example after example of people reaping what they sow. I see it throughout my own life. I live it every day.
Rest assured, it’s only a matter of time before the universe responds to your efforts, actions, and thoughts.
Today, I don’t associate with guys like Troy. All my efforts, actions, and thoughts, revolve around peace, love, and harmony. As a result, the law of attraction has been good to me.
The Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla is notorious for riots, assaults, stabbings, and killings. So much blood has been spilled, that there is a section on the breezeway known as “blood alley”.
I was there for two years before I watched a man get stabbed three times in the neck.
It was a warm sunny day out in the five acre prison yard. I was walking the track, enjoying the weather. Troy comes up to me and says, “Keep an eye on Terry, he’s going down today.”
Troy is a shot caller (see: Prison Glossary) for the white boys. He’s not a violent man. Meaning, he doesn’t fight or commit acts of violence. He just controls the heroin. This gives him a high ranking within the prison hierarchy. He commits his violence by paying others to do his dirty work.
Today, the victim is Terry. A white boy who’s been down over ten years. He’s also in the dope game and ranks high in the prison hierarchy.
I know more than I should because both Troy and Terry were cellies of mine at different times.
As Terry walks past the phones, Troy says, “Hey brother, will you hold this phone for me?”
Terry says, “I sure will” as he takes the phone from Troy’s hand.
That’s the cue! Within seconds, a big strong hit-man had Terry pinned against the concrete wall. I was maybe fifteen feet away as I watched Terry get stabbed three times in the neck.
I thought I was going to see a beat-down. I had no idea I’d be watching an attempted murder.
The incident was an eye opener…to say the least. It showed me how fast people can turn on each other in here. Everyone involved all called each other “brother” at one point in time. Now they were trying to kill each other.