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For honorable men confined to cages

December 24, 2013

by Michael D. Russell

In this journey of life, betrayal is all I’ve known.
As I stand alone in my concrete home,
time reveals wounds unhealed.
The reasons for my seething have grown.

'SHU Torture' by Michael D. Russell, web
“SHU Torture” Note the man in the lower right corner whose arm is tattooed with his wife’s face so that they can sleep together each night. – Drawing: Michael D. Russell
I now see not just my own;
the face concealed behind the mask is shown,
the taskmasters’ cover is blown.
He is the past, persistent grasp
who by hoax, coax or lash
cast us in the mold of his sculptor’s craft.
As we destroy ourselves, the architects laugh.

History’s book is rife with empty pages,
missing accounts of men who were courageous.
The authors despised the hue of their faces,
distorted depictions of fools as sages,
celebrating honorable men confined to cages,
while free crooks are showered with praises.
Ignorance hides the contradiction it raises …

Here in the SHU, where souls are stored,
we’re charged a fee we can’t afford
by the lords of chaos (CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard and Gov. Jerry Brown),
who find reward in our discord,
not so much to lose control, but just enough to tame the ward.
They cast blame, flash their badges and all transgressions are then ignored.
Oh! They take their swings when freedom sings,
then quickly hide the bloodied sword while they’re on their vacation.

The acts of cons and their keepers blend,
sin becomes as common as wind,
when evil blows by idle men,
written off with poison pen,
dismissed by society’s vindictive grin,
remiss as blissful err. They refuse to mend
even if it means crime becomes trend,
the truth expired, when vengeance was hired
and the liars cheered when justice retired.
The remaining hunger strikers are our martyrs.
Stop force-feeding.

Please support our peaceful protest to end the torture that is taking place in California and across the United States in its solitary confinement units. Five core demands:

1. An end to long-term solitary confinement;
2. An end to the illegal and immoral use of secret informants;
3. An end to punishing whole racial groups for an individual action;
4. Improving conditions to meet basic human standards for physical and mental health;
5. Providing educational programs.

We prisoners on hunger strike ask for your support to end the torture.

Send our brother some love and light: Michael David Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532. This poem was written on Sept. 11, 2013, just as the mass 2013 hunger strike was ending.

If you haven’t heard the John Prine classic song, “Christmas in Prison,” sung by a person who spent time in prison, you haven’t really heard the song performed with heart and soul. Here Dennis Sobin, currently director of the Prisons Foundation, sings it.

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