Facing my Fear

Shot Callers: Part 5

“Ziggy wants to see you outside.”

Like I told you in my last posting, part 4, as I began to take that long walk from my cell-block to the outside yard I realized that something in me had changed. I realized for the first time that I was no longer afraid of what might happen – or, more precisely, of anything. I wasn’t afraid of anything! Cautious, calculated and even angry, yeah, but not afraid. The most important thing I noticed about myself is that to top it off, I was entirely calm. I was mentally prepared for what awaited me outside.

I had seen it before, multiple times in fact. Scenario #1: You’re surrounded by a group of men, someone sucker punches you, or someone hits you in the back of the head with a mace-like weapon in the form of a padlock on the end of a belt to stun you, then the others beat you down and put the “Boots” to you. In this type of attack, you lose some teeth, get a few broken ribs, but you survive.

Scenario #2: a cold-blooded killer, or two attacks you. Assailant #1 has the mace like padlock on a belt or in a long athletic sock – he attacks first. The second man has the “Bonecrusher” ( a piece of steel filed down to a point with a makeshift handle of cloth and tape – this weapon is not designed to cut, it’s designed to poke holes in the human body, it’s deigned to kill ). The second man will wait for the padlock to land a couple of times, then he’ll attack. I would have about sixty-seconds, could I last sixty-seconds without running? These are the scenarios that were going through my mind that afternoon as I took that long walk from my cell-block to the yard. But like I said, like a man walking to certain death on Death Row, I guess I had accepted that things were beyond my control. I was calm. Not brave, just calm.

In my years prison up to this point I’d seen men die cowering, and I’d seen men die like warriors, in fact, I described one of those warrior deaths in my book “A Poet Dreams”. Yeah, in my mind I had seen my own “Day of Reckoning” a hundred times and I’d vowed to go down in a manner my children and my ancestors would be proud of.

In my life I have always been what would be described as an emotional person, but in prison, as in life, emotions are a detriment, a weakness, and I implore you to think about what I just said, “Emotions are a detriment, a weakness,” they are attachments that a person must gain control over. If you do not learn to control your emotions, you will live, as I did, on an emotional roller-coaster – up, down, up, down, up then down … from happy to sad, from calm to angry and everywhere in between. Emotions are a weakness, and in prison, they can cost you your life … I also tell a story in “A Poet Dreams” about how I let my emotions get the best of me over a dude with one leg, and how I was put into check by the reality that I needed to quit worrying about other folks and mind my own business. Hard lessons, and harder to understand … no this ain’t the place to go into all that … but trust me on this; if you want to know more about the value of self-control check out the “Eight Fold Path” of the Buddha.

I don’t think I can truthfully identify the one thing which has brought me to my current level of calmness. I suspect that it is a combination of different things … one, I have prayed for it, two, I have become a devoted student of Siddha Yoga, Yoga for the mind ( see Siddhayoga. org ). Three, I’ve aged, four, I have stood in abject fear of my life for three days – and last but not least, I have been walking the path of Spiritual Development as outlined in that book, “A Poet Dreams.” So, I cannot honestly say that the gut-wrenching experience of contemplating being killed at the hands of my own people was the sole birther of my present state of serenity, when in reality it was probably a combination of all those things.

To understand me and my present mindset you have to read my prison diary, “Where No One Hears Me. ” Yes, I now it’s painful to read, especially if you love me, as my little adopted niece ( Gisella Galvan) once said, “It’s so sad, I can’t read it! GIRL SHUT UP”, lol. You ain’t supposed to see the sadness of it, you’re suppose to see the amazing story of how I overcame all that sadness to improve myself as a human being. Anyway, lol, that book illustrates better than any other the mental torture we prisoners experience. It’s funny, the Inmates here at Three Rivers think I’m a “Bug” because I don’t play their emotional mind games, because I’m not running around complaining about everything, laughing, giggling – as if I enjoy prison … and, because I’m deadly serious about prison politics, but I know things they don’t know. I’ve seen and have recognized the consequences of my past and present actions. I’ve seen things they, or, hopefully you will never see. With that said, here’s the answer, this is what happened to me, this is the reason for my present demeanor, this is what I knew that day as I walked out of that cell-block. This is why, on that day of reckoning, I was fearless – I had come to accept the eminent closeness of death, and I had lost my fear of it!

Maybe it was my studies, maybe it was my faith in God, or maybe it was my recognition that death was ever present in life. Whatever the reason, I had disrobed myself of humanity’s greatest liability, its most profound weakness. I had lost everything. I had been separated from everyone who loved me and had found myself alone, afraid and desirous of a spiritual life, one where there were no prisons, no Cowboy Guards, no sorrow, no anger, no separation. Yes, the fear of death had lost its hold on me and somewhere along that cold stretch of road I was reborn in a way few Christian this century could understand, more like a regeneration, a regeneration through sorrow.

After all these years I tell you again to read, “Where No One Hears Me,” because in that book is a whole section comprising my thoughts and writings on the ever so misunderstood subject of “Death”. So when you ask yourself why I’d even write such stuff, my only answer is: I didn’t set down and write about Death, it just happened one entry at a time over the course of years. It someone else who saw the importance of it and then pulled those separate entries together and grouped them up for the sake of study – Hell, up until then I’d never even realized I’d written so much about the subject!


I walked outside to confront my destiny and waiting for me were, not one man, but two … scenario #2, they were gonna try to kill me! Ziggy who’d spent five years in the Supermax for cutting a guys head off – and my friend, Ghost. They were gonna handle it themselves.

I lifted my chin in defiance and I walked right up to them and a tinge of anger surfaced – emotions are a detriment – I fought it down, and waited for them to do whatever it was they intended to do.

Ziggy, with Ghost at his side asked me one question: “Did you give Charlie Brown that shank?” I looked him right in the eyes and responded, “I have a piece of steel this long …” I held out my hands the way a fisherman does when he’s lying about a fish, then continued, “and I hate that dude Charlie Brown stabbed. If I’d given a piece to Charlie Brown, that stupid son-of-a-bitch would be dead right now! And for the record …” why I said this I don’t know … “I’ve got no problem killin’ one of them stupid sons-a-bitches.” Yeah, I said it just like that, to the most dangerous man on the Compound! Yeah, I know, so much for civility. But, anyway, the damnedest thing happened. Ziggy actually smiled the way a lion would smile at a mouse who puffed out his chest, then he asked me a question about a Jamaican dude in my cell-block. I answered him, he said, “Alright.” Then him and Ghost turned around and walked away.

I stood for a couple seconds and thanked God, then I turned around and went back into my cell-block wondering what would come next. Of course I concluded, Zingy didn’t have to put work in, he’d naturally have someone else do it … but that smile he gave me was more like a proud father, than a lion to a mouse … Again I stood in front of my cell door, but that smile, gave me hope.

At 7pm some of the fellas came in off the yard and I immediately saw that things were different, several of the ten or so gang members in my cell-block spoke as they went by, or smiled – and just like that, the tension was gone. My fate had been decided … for reasons I’d later learn from Ziggy himself, I’d been spared … I had been vindicated; believed.

Yes. I know, I’m rushing this along, but the English Babe who handles my blog is going on vacation to Turkey, soon. So, I thought I’d get ahead of the curve. Yeah, that was a crazy thing, that. Next time I’ll tell you a little about the race-riot of 2008, then about my exposure to the absolute rulers of USP Florence, The Black Hand! and how I came to become, not one of, but THE most respected white-boy, at USP Florence. For the record, it looks like there will be 10 of these entries which will take you up until the time I got off the bus hereat Three Rivers, only to be told that “guys like me weren’t welcome here”. Yeah, you’re gonna hear it all.

Peace be with you

Three Rivers, 9-28-18