While I sit, stand, lay here in this cell, exiled from American society and confined to 4 gruesome walls that were intentionally designed to break me all the way down, my heart beats furiously, yet proudly with resistance and I try to keep my mind open, heart open and eyes open, reaching out for truthful knowledge and for deeper understandings of self, love and life. I read, I study, I write, I contemplate and reflect, I hold discussions, I have conversations and try to engage others.
In these dungeons we are cut off from family, cut off from the world and cut off from a real education, but the people in here who linger, lurk and fester in these graveyards seem to love to learn all they can about their own history, culture, heritage and traditions, even though they’re usually considered lower than dirt in the eyes and minds of society, they still carry their pride of who they are and they hang on to that very tightly. I really dig that.
There are definitely some powerful and dangerous minds lurking in some of these cells, people who have taken true means to let the shackles, chains, cuffs and restraints from their minds. I feel blessed to have been able to come in contact with people in this clandestine world who could be so intelligent, artistic and resourceful, even while confined to a cold, hateful, primitive place like this. It’s because of these experiences and because of meeting these people that it feels good to be lower than dirt, it fee Is good to be so close to the earth. I appreciate the blessings and the lessons of being an exile.
While I write this, I’m on the second day of a 4-day fast with a native comrade of mine. He told me he was going to go on a fast tor a few days, to set things in order with himself and that he’d holler at me in a few days. I said, “Hey, wait a minute! I´ll do it with you.” So, here I am on the second day of this fast, trying to stay strong and focused, no talking, no eating and no masturbating; and trying to keep negative thoughts out of my head. My native comrade Xemo has his reasons for going on his fast, which are mostly spiritual, and I have my reasons and objectives.
First, I wanted to show him solidarity, as he is someone I feel connected to in meaningful ways, so I wanted to encourage him to keep going and to get his mind right, heart right, soul right. Prison isn’t the most positive or productive place, and we sit here amongst all this hate, madness, violence, gangsterisrn, materialism and corruption, it’s hard not to get caught up in it, it’s hard not to think like all those around you, it’s hard to rise above it. So, I knew if I were to go on this fast with my native comrade, it would inspire and motivate him to hold strong. Secondly, I felt the need to do this for myself, to back up oft the door, take my mind away from this place and tune in to myself and mostly to challenge myself.
To me, fasting is an act of enduring pain and coming out of it stronger, it’s an act of sacrifice. It calls for me to will myself to keep going under desperate situations, to keep fighting, to keep resisting, to keep holding on, to stay focused, to stay disciplined and to stay strong. Of course, there are deeper spiritual meanings attached to it. But 1’11 have to admit that this fast isn’t really tor spiritual purposes tor me, other than sacrificing my food, conversation, urges and desires to will myself to endure and overcome anguish, pain and torment, and I’m doing this to prepare myself for tutu re hardships. Those are my reasons tor taking up this fast.
Xemo tells me stories, sings me songs in Crow, sings me songs in Lakota, sings me songs in Shoshone. He sings songs about the eagle, he sings songs about the bear, he sings songs about the determination of the wolf. He taught me how to sing a healing song and he taught me how to sing a unity song. He tells me something good about the coyote, he says a coyote can adapt to any situation, you can take a coyote out ot the Nevada desert and put the coyote in Africa and the coyote will find a way to survive. I will always remember that.
I believe we become stronger through our pain, we become wiser, with a clearer outlook on life, a keener insight, and more compassionate and understanding after overcoming, or enduring struggles and painful situations. I believe we need to be challenged by life, every now and again, and it’s through these challenges that we grow (spiritually) and develop (mentally) and transform our thinking into higher states of consciousness.
It’s about the mind, body and soul. It’s about atonement. It’s spiritual, mental and physical, it’s not only about being a warrior, but it’s about being alive. This is not my first fast, but I’ve learned a lot from Xemo, ‘cuz he was kind enough to take the time to reach out to me and teach me things about his culture, which isn’t much different from the Yaquis, Aztecs and Mayas, and I am very appreciative for my friend’s time and kindness, and it felt good to hear him sing his songs, he sings from deep in his soul.
My appreciation of these gifts leads me to write this brief report on it and include it in this zine, to give people a small peak into the life and mind of an exile. We prisoners are exiles, because we’ve been exiled from life, exiled from society, exiled from real, human relationships, exiled from culture and traditions and customs and celebrations, but as long as we choose to keep the things that are most important to us in our hearts, then we are still thriving and surviving.
There’s a difference between living and maintaining, people in prison aren’t living, we’re maintaining and some of us aren’t even doing that. Times are hard in prison, this place can make your heart hard like cement and your soul cold like steel. This place breeds hate and anger. A lot of people are influenced by racism and prejudice ways of thinking. Some prisoners read and study their culture and history and use it as a tool to hate, hate and hate. They learn to hate other people and other races, ‘cuz they’re not like them. They don’t understand the true lessons, ways, teachings and understandings of their ancestors. They don’t understand that when you take things back to their roots and origins, you see that we all come from the same place, and in 50 many ways, we are all related. People who embrace the true understandings of their ancient cultures aren’t haters, but have a trued appreciation and respect for their own culture, as well as others.
I see all this hate around here, and to me it’s ignorance. It breaks my heart to see and experience all this madness every day. People who talk out of hate (in my opinion), usually speak with ignorance, people who talk out of love, usually speak with the intelligence of their hearts. If you’re someone who claims to love your people 50 much, then they take true strides to do real things for your people, instead of using all that energy to hate on the next man, or the next race, just because he ain’t like you.
I sit in my cell and do my fast, Xemo is in his cell, a few cells down from me, doing his fast. We are both locked down, but we are resourceful enough to find ways to communicate with each other and still keep people out of our business. I sit here in solitude, with no one or nothing to fear but myself and let these thoughts pour out of a heart that’s been broken a thousand times, but comes back and beats stronger and stronger each time. I feel the pain in my stomach, but I keep going, I don’t eat, I don’t have the desire to eat, only the desire to keep going, and that’s what I’m going to do, I can endure the pain, I’m a warrior, I am ready for whatever challenges that await me …
From the depths of my restless heart,