Hello again and welcome to the Roost. I understand this thing is doing pretty well in readership. (As most if not all of you know, I do not personally maintain the site. In fact, I’ve never laid eyes on it. I handwrite the content and my very dear friend Anna posts it for me.) I am not sure how I feel about so many reading my thoughts. I suppose I may not have really considered it all that much. (That might actually be a good thing– not thinking too much about it, that is. I have always been pretty private… before this place, anyway…)
I am not sure how I feel about so many reading my thoughts. I suppose I may not have really considered it all that much. (That might actually be a good thing– not thinking too much about it, that is. I have always been pretty private… before this place, anyway…) I have never even kept a journal– not really, anyway.
I have never even kept a journal– not really, anyway. I do have a composition book in which I write meaningful quotes. A sample, out of a book I read a bit ago called Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (wonderful novel) goes: “Violence procreates. The children your violence produces will return to you as savage, mindless things, You won’t recognize them as yours, but they will recognize you. They will mark you as deserving of their punishment. They will punish you for the carelessness of their creation. Violence breeds violence. That is an absolute. But it never returns in a way you can predict.” (That was a “knock me down on my ass” moment reading that novel, and I had to write it down.)
But this blog is about the most open I have ever been. For example, I have never told anyone in here about some of the stuff I wrote in that holiday post I wrote. So this is all pretty new to me.
I suppose my reasons for blogging must go beyond the selfish, as I carry on doing it regardless of the response or lack of response, and deplete my ever-dwindling supply of postage with each entry. There must be some altruism there, right? Or perhaps not… maybe I just need to write to get some of the frustration of this place “off my chest” so to speak. Maybe this is my last flailing attempt at maintaining whatever I have left of my sanity, which can’t be much.
A place like this does change a person. I don’t care how mentally strong a person is– they cannot live in an environment like this for years and years and be the same as when they arrived. I believe I have mentioned watching others go insane in here, but I don’t think I have touched on realizing that you may be joining that crowd. I came in with some background in philosophy but at some point, it begins to become more and more difficult to “wax philosophic” concerning how a society deems people (even people they deem “bad”) and make any sense of it.
I came in with some background in philosophy but at some point, it begins to become more and more difficult to “wax philosophic” concerning how a society deems people (even people they deem “bad”) and make any sense of it.
I even wonder if perhaps my jailers are insane. (Not all of them, mind you, but certainly the ones in charge.) Some of them are not what you would call “the cream of the crop” of society, after all, and those seem to be the ones that advance most readily. (I have seen my share of petty, vicious, small-minded, lying reprobates climb the ladder to success at the Arizona Department of Corrections.)
I remember a time when prison guards would take off their uniforms before they went home because they didn’t want their neighbors to know what they did for a living. (And it wasn’t because the profession was bad…it was because of the reputation of the profession and those who performed it.) They were as bad as, or worse than, those whom they were hired to keep in cages. And that has not changed. The last I knew, about a quarter of the employees who work for ADOC have had felony contact with law enforcement but are given “preferential treatment” by the system because of their “high stress” jobs. And most of those continue to work for ADOC (except for the ones they can’t hide, which is rare– an ADOC corrections guard named Santiago that used to work for this unit who got a “sweet deal plea agreement” and is now sitting in protective custody right here in the Florence Complex prison for killing his own mother– if memory serves, he beat her to death with a cooking pan. I honestly can’t recall all the details…but please tell me again how the death penalty is supposed to be a deterrent? He worked on death row! But this example provides a reasonably accurate picture of many who work here.
But I feel I need to state here that I have seen decent people work here, too. But it must also be stated that most (not all, but surely most) of the good ones do not work for ADOC for very long. They see how fellow human beings are being treated and just cannot morally abide it…they leave the profession altogether. (Compassion is not just looked down upon here; it is vehemently and systematically discouraged.) And the ones that do stay, at some point they either lose their compassion or find a way to pretty thoroughly suppress it. I try to take all of this with the proverbial “grain of salt” but, wow, it is difficult sometimes.
As you might imagine, I have a great deal of time on my hands to think about things. I wonder if, on some psychological level, society just needs something to demonize and hate. When you step back and look, that statement is not as farfetched as it may seem at first gloss. If so, then I think I may be part of the element that serves that purpose.) Some people sure seem to have a lot of hate, though.) But I guess I can sort of look at it this way: At least I am “serving a purpose” right?
Anna tells me that she has received a few mean-spirited and petty emails concerning her role in helping me to reach out from this cage– really, people?!– I guess when you’re anonymous, it is easier to be rude. The internet was not all that big when I was on the outside. People seem more polite when they have to look you in the face. At least where I lived they were.
I would like to know what the issue is? What is it that people fear that makes them lash out like that? (Because, mark my words, they are afraid of something…I guarantee it!) And to lash out at Anna of all people… the gentlest, kindest human soul I have ever known.
But what is it? I live in a cage under sentence of death. I can’t hurt you. So, is your fear that people will know that I am not a sociopathic monster? That, hey, I’m just a person just like everybody else! And maybe people will start asking why someone ends up on death row, instead of assuming the solution lies in just committing another murder and that will solve everything. (Yeah, I’m not the sociopath here… I didn’t keep hundreds of people in cages only to strap them down and pump them full of caustic chemicals to kill them…can you imagine the trial on that one if anyone but the state did it?) But it’s me– us– that are supposedly the monsters…it’s perfectly fine for the state to murder us. Think about that absurdity for a moment… I’ll be honest, it makes me laugh when I consider the stupidity…but then again, my sense of humor has always been a bit warped.
I suppose I have rambled on long enough about nothing in particular. (The whole title of the blog does have “ravings” in there somewhere) and that is what this post is about…nothing. If I want anyone to take something away from it, I will refer you back to that quote from Live by Night: “Violence breeds violence.” If violence procreates, then what, as a society, do you breed by condoning what the state says it does in your name? Revenge is one thing, but you have to be able to sink your own teeth in a thing to get that. A sterilized little murder by proxy, tucked away from the sight of all but a select few witnesses? Now that is the act of a barbaric monster!
When I was on the outside, it was my habit to give gifts to those I care about on the eve of the Solstice (as I write, it is now that very day, the 20th of December). But as I sit destitute in a cage, that is lost to me (as are so many things) I will give you one of my creations in the form of a poem I wrote.
I was asked to write a blog on what my last day alive would be like. I wrote a poem entitled “The Pithing Pen” about a year ago, before I started writing to Anna or doing this blog. It is metaphorical but does get the point across.
Please remember to thank Anna, without whom none of this would be possible. Dear friend, words cannot express my fondness or my gratitude.