Text of chapter written in preparation for Fire 1000 Poems.
No one knew how cold
only this man
in this cell
now someone knows
how cold the moon can be.
The moon is a bowl tonight
full of tenderness for the old stars.
He opened his mouth, and it was full of something moving – not his tongue. I saw but didn’t see, didn’t comprehend the eyes looking back at me from inside of his mouth. The uniforms we wear make it hard to tell who is crazy, who is sane, who would hold a live mouse inside of his mouth.
“The mouse is there. It could be your pet. You could do with it whatever you want. It is yours. Feed the mouse. Feed it from your hand. It’s getting used to you. Let it climb on you. All over you. Let it climb down your head. Your mouth is open, let it look inside. What if it crawled inside? It is crawling inside. The mouse is in your mouth. You can keep it there if you want to. The mouse is not struggling anymore. It is yours. You can show it to the guard. Show it to the new guy. Show him the mouse in your mouth.”
We are all the same. Only our numbers are different. The voice that would tell you that it would be a good thing to do, to put the mouse in your mouth, was not a voice that I ever wanted to hear. The road that you would have to travel for it to someday occur to you to put the mouse in your mouth was one I was already on. I was dressed for it. And I had just arrived at Marion.
Later in the evening I would see that mouse at the end of a dental floss leash, tied to a staple laced through the scruff of its neck. The terrified animal traced frantic arcs back and forth on the buffed concrete floor in front of the cell next to mine.
“It doesn’t bother them,” said Mouseman. “It’s like a momma cat picking up her kittens. They grab them with their teeth behind the neck.”
USP Marion, 1985.
Books based on my prison experience:
The Risks Worth Taking: Poetry and Art from a Decade of Imprisonment.
Hauling Up the Morning: Writings & art by political prisoners & prisoners of war in the U.S.
My thoughts on art, STEM, STEAM, and the theory of everything: Whyart.docx
Notes on Walter Benjamin and the deskilling of art practice: Deskilling labor and art
Examining the criticisms of photographer Sebastiao Salgado and aesthetisizing poverty: Salgado.Deconstruct.cynicism
A materialist/class analysis of the works of Ma Yuan: Signs and Class in Chinese Landscape Painting
Examining the work of Joan Miro and the Spanish Civil War: Reading Miro.Politics of Failure
Interview and discussion of the performance art of Reverend Billy Talen (The Church of Stop Shopping): Rev. Billy Dialectics