Our 1/11/18 Reading at Northern State Correctional Facility
On January 11, 2018, our writers at Northern State Correctional in Newport, VT, gave a reading from their work. Since you couldn't be there, we are sharing the work with you. It's honest, courageous, beautiful writing, and it even has a sense of humor. Please read and share.
Finally, I Understood the Truth
I finally understood the truth
When I checked into Maple Leaf Farm.
I was gathered with
Many suffering alcoholics and drug addicts
Just like myself.
I finally understood
That I was not any better
And in fact, I may be worse than some.
I sat around meeting to meeting
Not sharing my own personal
Struggle with addiction,
And just listened and tried to
Even though I knew I shouldn’t
Or shouldn’t have,
I’ve always looked down on people
Who I thought or believed
Were less than I was.
Now I’ve taken some time
In my sobriety
To actually listen and compare
Myself to others.
Finally, I understood the truth.
If I Were in Charge
If I were in charge of inmates
I would be more lenient
for such reasons of knowing that we are all people
and we make mistakes!
It’s human nature,
and an officer may have done the same things
as an inmate,
they just have not been caught.
I would work to see that an inmate was properly treated
physically, mentally, and medically,
I would also help them with any lack of communication
between one’s caseworker and/or family.
Many of us have worthless caseworkers
and due to lack of or miscommunication
things are neglected or never done.
I’d also like to see a better re-entry program
for people that are being released
that have addiction or pain issues
that are getting released with no prior planning or set-ups
such as medical assisted treatment
or whatever it is they may need
to successfully make it out there.
That’s just a few things I’d do if I were in charge.
The Toughest Decision I've Ever Made
Well I have to say
the toughest decision I've ever made
was me coming clean to my family and friends
about me being 1) gay and 2) a transgender female.
I feared discrimination, disrespect, and lots of criticism.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me
at school or public places
and I feared about what
my home life would consist of as well.
I chose to go to my guidance counselor at the time
and over time slowly explained myself,
for her to tell me everyone deserves
to be loved the same no matter
who or what they were
and some people can stay in your heart
but not in your life
and if they were not willing to understand
and take you for who you were
they didn’t deserve to have you in their life.
So that was the toughest decision I ever made.
A Morning When I’m Using
...Well, I don’t use to the degree that some people do, perhaps—
but after a hard weekend of drinking
I have woken up some mornings
and noticed that I could brush my teeth
just by putting toothpaste on the bristles,
stick the toothbrush into my mouth,
stand there and let the morning shakes do the work.
Invariably, by Tuesday the shakes would be gone
and I’d be looking forward to my next hard weekend!
A Morning Clean and Sober
Refreshing, exhilarating, healthy, happy,
energetic, guilt-free, motivated,
more money in my pocket,
I know where my wallet is,
and my teeth;
the air smells fresher, cleaner
and the bacon, eggs, and toast
make my stomach happy too;
the kitchen is clean,
there are no beer and whisky bottles
on the table, floor, couch,
no cigarette burns on the table
and the ash trays aren’t overflowing.
I feel a sense of self-control.
I’m ready to go to work.
I don’t stink of alcohol
I’m clean and sober.
When Winter Is Finally Over
When is winter finally over?
When I damn well want it to be!
I friggin’ hop in my brain plane and go to
Florida, the Bahamas, or Spain
where the rain falls mainly on the plain.
Winter is finally over when Robin,
my favorite bird,
perches on my windowsill and chirps at me!
I give her some breakfast, bacon and eggs,
with a cup of coffee,
and we both sit and enjoy the warm spring morning.
I watch her and she watches her husband
building a house in a nearby tree.
I go out on the wet sidewalk
and gather fresh worms
from last night’s rainy evening.
The road smells like kerosene
and has pretty purple and blue colors.
When winter is finally over.
Morning in Prison
Every morning I wake up in prison it’s the opposite of being adjusted.
I never want to wake up in this kind of a different world.
I never knew what it was like in the morning in prison
but I open my eyes up anyway.
I know soon I will open my eyes up one morning
and it will be daylight for sure.
And that will be a morning not to forget.
This place is like the morning after.
It’s just in my head and won’t go away until the daylight shows again.
The Toughest Decision I Ever Made
The toughest decision I ever made
was to give up on my wife and her addiction to alcohol.
I had tried so hard
and loved her for so long.
The question was in front of me
all the way through,
dealing with the lies, cheating, having wrecks after wrecks.
She even wrecked in our driveway on my plow truck.
She blamed me for everything that went wrong.
I thought something was wrong with me,
but all the time my love for her was blinded by her drinking.
She didn’t want to give up drink
and I didn’t want to give up on love.
It was the toughest decision I ever made.
When the Rain Fell, It Brought Back Memories
When I hear the rain falling on my roof I sit there
and enjoy the sound of it hitting the roof.
I sit and think of the past
and what it meant to have
a past of the rain cleansing the world.
The rain as it was falling on the roof
was so peaceful that it brought memories
of when I had trouble sleeping,
but the rain would be there as a medication,
a good way to get to sleep.
I am a kind, loving person.
I wonder what my would be like if
I was never in trouble.
I hear the wind blowing through the trees,
I see a bright, colorful life in the future.
I want to have a rich life.
I am a kind, loving person.
I pretend I am free.
I feel the wind blowing through my hair.
I touch the sweet life of freedom.
I worry I will be alone for all time.
I cry being locked up in jail.
I pretend I am free.
I understand why I am here.
I say I did it and I am sorry.
I dream of going fast as I can down dragstrip.
I try to deal with what I have done.
I hope I still have loved ones.
I understand why I am here.
Pain comes from
Anything and everything
From love to tooth.
But there is one thing
Pain lets you know
I Will Never Forget That Christmas
It was the night before Christmas.
My mother and father were yelling,
I couldn’t sleep, so I tossed and turned.
I heard my door open and I closed my eyes.
She was crying and upset.
I heard my father’s truck start and spin the tires.
She left the room and I heard my door shut.
After I understood why my mom was crying
I hoped it was not true.
My father left us that first Christmas
Of my life
That is why Christmas is just another day.
The Christmas I’ll never forget.
Where I Come From
Where I come from.
Life was...well, life was something else, I tell you.
I did not know what the hell was right
or what was wrong.
There was fighting.
My mom was always drunk.
My first memories were of my own mother
being passed out.
My dad would be out in the garage
building hot rods with his friends,
So honestly I don’t know where to say I am from.
If I was to guess I’m probably from space.
To Hell with You!
You are my demise.
You are why I’m in jail.
You are why I’m alone.
You are why my kids don’t speak.
You are why I weep.
You are why I want to kill.
You pretend you are my friend.
You pretend you are my lover.
You pretend that I matter.
You pretend I am boss.
You pretend things will be ok.
You pretend to pretend.
You understand I’m fragile.
You understand I’m lonely.
You understand I’m here.
You understand I understand.
Well guess what, understand this:
I am sober, I am alive.
I Will Never Forget that Christmas
I will never forget that Christmas
on the farm when I was 10 years old.
That winter was brutal for our whole family.
The tractor breaking down,
our highest producing cow contracting barn ware,
the water in the barn freezing up,
what a mess.
My grandparents came up in a storm,
my grandmother helped my mom in the house.
My grandfather came out to the barn
to help Dad and I thaw out water pipes.
Then Dad worked on the milk pump
to get it going so we could get back to milking.
The whole family banding together
to make Christmas happen.
What My Addiction Couldn’t Take Away
It couldn’t take away
the love, caring, kindness, and closeness
between my son Kyler and I.
No matter what, I always put my son
in front of all that, even his mother.
Kyler and I have a bond nothing can change,
not alcohol or drugs.
With Dena giving up on drugs herself,
I feel as if her and I can win against this addiction we both have.
Our addictions can’t take away our love for each other.
It’s nice knowing I can be on the winning side of something
rather than my addiction having the upper hand.
What Scares Me the Most
What scares me the most
is that once I’m released in 3,4,5 years,
I won’t be able to stay within my regimen of staying clean and sober,
something I’ve had trouble doing many times in the past.
Will it be easier?
Will it be harder?
Can I respond and attend an AA/NA meeting?
Can I swallow pride and call my sponsor?
Can I still count on my Higher Power?
Can I rely on my wife, my family, my friends?
Hopefully with all this said,
the answers will be yes.
But the one I should always be able to count on is me!
I say there is still hope!