You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘retro-blog’ category.

The other night I had the pleasure of watching a show on NBS called “Billions Behind Bars.” As a criminal the preview of the show aroused my curiosity, despite the fact that I am continually dumbfounded that shows like Locked Up and Cops draws such interest from the incarcerated (gluttons for punishment I guess)! Any rate, and with that said there were some very interesting statistics about prisons in the United States. Take for example that the United States has more citizens incarcerated than China and Russia combined. The prison population in the states floats around 2.3 million, give or take the 30,000 or so illegal immigrants incarcerated along the boarder of the U.S. And Mexico.

But that is not what I have come to talk (write) you about, nope! I have come to you about coffee or lack there of at Maine Correctional Center(MCC). It seems that in the “slash and hack” spending cuts imposed by his holiness the Commissioner, that coffee was one of the first items to attack the budget. In Billions Behind Bars it reported that U.S. Prison sell 2.5 Billion dollars worth of products made by inmates. Some of the inmates making these produces made as little as sixty cents a day. Here at MCC, God only knows what industries bring in on annual sales? Got Me!

“Home,” by Bob Wire

 

But that is not what I have come to talk (write) you about, nope! I have come to you about coffee or lack there of at Maine Correction Center (MCC). There are a fairly substantial number of inmates who work around the prison. Some work for free, others get a stipend (sixty cents an hour to start). Some men work in the laundry room cleaning shitty, pissy, and cummyed clothing for eight hours a day or more. Can’t MCC or the God-damned DOC provide coffee for them?

(I just heard that the laundry found one case of coffee and they are livin’ the good life for a bit)

There are inmates that work in facilities, no coffee for them. What about the guys who work for free in the school or library, helping other inmates, instructing in classes, or tutoring? No More coffee for them. I may not be the brightest inmate in the world, but I bet my formally coffee stained teeth that if the DOC in general or MCC in particular stopped feeding CO’s and other staffers, they could save enough money to let hard-working inmates bath in coffee.

Make no mistake about it inmates save the fucking DOC a shit-loads of money performing tasks that the DOC might otherwise have to pay with real world employment rates… JESUS, will they ever stop screwing the inmates? If you still don’t think inmates should get free coffee, see how many CO’s would work for free (without coffee of course) in the laundry, the school, the library, on the grounds or around the compound FOR FREE of 60 cent and HOUR…Finally, as if that above was enough I will more time dissecting some of Billion Behind Bars for your future reading pleasure…

Bob Wire

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

Somethings in life stymy me, other things just baffle me, yet there are still other things that befuddle and perplex me beyond my means. One such item that has me befuddled, perplexed and more is: Why in God’s green earth is Maine Correctional Center straining for accreditation and what will that accreditation mean to the quality of life for the inmates? I mean is not like the inmates get a choice as to where they will serve their time; they can’t say “don’t send me to MCC” it’s not accredited! So will accreditation bring better treatment for the inmates? Will it provide better medical care? Will it provide even moderately adequate medical care? Better Food? Will accreditation provide foul weather gear/clothing? Will it weed out the C.O.’s who’s soul mission at MCC is to fuck with the inmates? Not because the inmates have done things wrong but solely for the CO’s entertainment? Will it keep commissary open? Will it put quality books in the library? Will the school department get more and better? Will inmates get better quality foods? Will they get foods C.O.’s and staffers get? If you haven’t figured it out yet. The answer to every question above is no… What accreditation will do is paint hand rails and remove trash and wash floors that’s it…

Bob Wire

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

In the age of Fuck-Fuck corrections, one might wonder how anything gets done, any thing at all.  What is Fuck-Fuck corrections, you ask?  I’ll tell you what Fuck-Fuck corrections are.  Fuck-Fuck corrections is the act of making things look like they are making progress or improvement.  Fuck-Fuck corrections is: the shuffling of people here, moving them there, cutting fat here, stream-lining the system from top to bottom.  Now, Fuck-Fuck corrections might not be such a bad thing, except is is absolutely nothing more than the ILLUSION of progress.  In reality Fuck-Fuck corrections is nothing more than slight-of-hand with a marked deck of cards.  Fuck-Fuck corrections don’t make things better, they move one incompetent person after another into some new job, they don’t understand , nor could they accomplish it if they did understand it.

Maine Correctional Center (M.C.C.) has been going through it’s own phase of Fuck-Fuck corrections of late, C.O.’s sent here, C.O.’s sent there; back and forth and on and on and on and up and down and inside out and not a god-damn thing gets better!  Not one god-damn thing!  Same incompetent people performing someone else’s job or something like that.  DON’T BELIEVE ME?  Then tell me how a competent staff person, in a competently run facility could forget to process the paperwork, or forgets to pass it along to the right person for inmates getting out of jail.  YES!  In the last two months at M.C.C., the staff has FAILED to properly process or handle the paperwork of two inmates who had “done their time;”  HONEST.  How the hell does that happen?  How the hell can you let an inmate languish in anxiety to go home after he has served month after year in prison?  How the hell does that happen?  I’ll tell you how it happens:

“FUCK-FUCK CORRECTIONS”

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

What is the definition of Correction? Hmmm… lets consult the trust worthy Webster’s dictionary.

Correction: N. 1)Something given, done, or proposed as a substitute for what is wrong or inaccurate. 2) The act of correcting. 3) Punishment or chastisement. 4) (Usually Corrections) the various methods, as incarceration parole, and probation by which society deals with convicted offenders.

Now that’s out of the way I guess Maine Correctional Center has done something right. Part 4 of the above definition states incarceration that is about all this place does, oh – almost forgot they do know how to punitively punish. They tend to mass punish, and only punish you for breaking rules if you’re not one of the elite prisoners. Yes! They do have favorites. I believe Part two of the definition is something MCC staff and administration needs to improve on. How can a prisoner with a drug conviction fail a drug test while incarcerated and not automatically get enrolled in a substances abuse program? I have just the answer for you. MCC’s administration and staff Act part  of caring individuals they want you to feel all warm and fuzzy (like that extended warranty you buy with your new car). All is well and life is good until something fails, after that you’re FUCKED! Everything was just an illusion, no one will help you because “It’s you own fault you deal with it” I know the first step to recovery is yourself but how can anyone do it alone. Prisoners are here because when thinking on their own they made poor decisions. Where are all the support staff that our tax dollars pay for? Well almost non-existent! How can this place consider themselves a correctional institution without proper programs, support, and caring staff to help guide and encourage inmates to improve themselves. Without the proper tools and knowledge how will someone succeed? They most likely won’t and are being set up for failure. MCC has a 70% success rate of non repeating offenders which is fairly respectable. My question to the Commissioner and Superintendent is why stop at 70% why not go for 85-90%? Are you afraid you will run out of clientele? MDOC and MCC administration continue to cut programs, jobs, and services for inmates. Whether they realize it or not, or even care they are doing more harm than good. I would like to make a suggestion to you administrations, why not take a few days and meet with your inmates, find out their needs, wants and goals are and then find some meaningful, helpful way, programs and services to HELP you prisoners better themselves. The art of corrections is to help whomever made the mistakes see the problem, what was wrong with it, and then help find a solution. It’s not very complicated Mr. Commissioner. It’s just takes a leader with a strong will to lead the way. Once you and your staff figure it out and everyone is consistent across the board will you start seeing better results. It’s not about the quantity of corrections. It’s about the quality of corrections.

Thank You

Mr. Hopeful

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

Sometimes sitting and writing for a blog can be stressful I’ve tried to remain on target as much as I can. Sometimes my point of view may be way off, but I do care? NO! The corruption, and bull shit at MCC must stop! This so-called correctional facility is a joke! To say the least. Being in corrections for years has taught me nothing! My co workers sometimes piss off inmates for no reason, just to get a kick out of it. The administration is diving the place into the abyss, at one time in the past this place once showed compassion for it’s inmates, we corrected behavior, now its just a sit and wait for them to fuck up. Most interactions between staff and inmates are negative nature, so naturally staff and inmate animosity is on the rise and moral for both is down. MCC does have policies and procedures but are only followed when my bosses see fit. I joined corrections to help people not baby sit! There are a lot of fine gentlemen in this facility but many people are hopeless, programs are lacking, and there’s no positives for many of these inmates to look forward to. The administration keeps cutting services for inmates, they’ve cut commissary and it will soon be privatized. The kitchen will soon be next and why? Because the man in charge of those departments doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. He should be terminated and replaced by someone who will do the job! Industries will be and some have already had their coffee taken away, those gentlemen who work hard for either free (school, laundry, grounds crews, ect.) Deserve it, for they earn nothing. Garments, upholstery, woodshop, etc work hard and make pennies on the dollar. This place is turning into a major disappointment, to the MDOC and itself. It’s shameful that the inmates have to suffer being away from their loved ones and are subjected to such pathetic treatment. Wake Up Commissioner Ponte, these inmates are just as human as you and I! Pull your head out of your ass and realize that! Lets make cuts across the board not just burden the inmates. We do nothing to help than better themselves.

Sincerely,

Bob Hopeful

CCI07022017_0006

OH!  My dear minions!  It was with heart felt sadness that I find out this very day that you (the Faithful followers of Bob wire) were left to languish in darkness, not hearing form your Wire these many weeks now.  How my heart sunk to find out that the one I chose to be heir to the Bob wire throne, my very own minister plenipotentiary was not writing you, the masses, in my stead!  Fear not, my dear minions, your Bob is back and with a vengeance…

Well, to say to you today that Maine Correctional Center (MCC) has been a-buzz would be an understatement.  Rumors of a new commissioner and what he was going to do to us poor inmates are flying around like spring pollen (itchy/runny eyes and all). Personally, I thought this whole new commissioner thing was just another spook story, until his very real slash and hack budget cuts ran over the rank and file… it seems that us/some inmates would no longer need/get the stipend to buy used clothing upon our release from prison.  I guess our commissioner also feels that inmates no longer need a stipend for participation in a “program” dorm either.. really?  Really?  This his how the wise and all powerful commissioner “of Ponte” wants to save money?  Really?  How about this, you corrections master, how about you stop feeding C. O.s and other staffers, one, two, or three meals a day?  How about that?  Stay with me here folks.  I admit, I have no clue how many C. O.s/staffers work here per twenty four hour shift.  Let me just grab a nice round number out of the sky.  I’ll say there are 131 staffers (nice, round #) per half day.  Out of these 131, let me say 2/3 of them work twelve hour shifts, that is about $86.46 per 12 hours x 2 = 172.92.  The remainder is about 44.54 staffers x 3 (three eight hour shifts) or 133 per 24 hour period.  The actual number of C. O.s/staffers works out to about 305 per 24 hour period.  The 12 hour staffers have three meals a day, or 519 meals.  The eight hour staffer get two meals a day or 266 meals per 24 hours.  The total meal consumption at this rate, equals about 286,000 +/- meals per year…

Now cut 280,000 meals a year out of the budget and this shit-hole could not only save money, inmates could buy used clothing…

To be candid with all of you, ole’ Bob Wire does not believe the new commissioner is really looking to save money.  Nope.  The new commissioner is looking for, or is creating the “illusion of saving money”.  His goal is to impress his bosses (governor, etc.) at the expense of the ones who need the funds the most (the inmates!)

An inmate leaves here broke and cannot get a dime to buy used clothing, but MCC and the DOC can feed (and clothe) hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of C. O.s and other staffers???

Let ole’ Bob Wire spell it out for you.  It ain’t about cost cutting, it is only about grinding, grinding and grinding… who is this commissioner grinding his ace against?  If you have to ask that question, you are likely a C.O. Or other staffer.

 

Bob Wire

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

I know that I complain a lot about life here at MCC and the fact of the matter is there is much to complain about. It does not take long for a host of issues to come flooding to the fore of my mind including things such as the piss-poor medical care and staff. The constant jerking of the inmate chain by CO’s for their humor comes to mind as well. The thing is this: I really don’t give a rats-ass myself about much that goes on around here.

It may come as a surprise that I am not a complainer by nature; I am not. What I have here, what I do here is bring the voice of the inmates (and others; including dirty laundry) to a blogging audience and presence. I am for good and bad, really nothing more than an ear. I listen to what is being said about campus. I listen to the inmates bitch and moan. I listen to the CO’s piss and moan. I listen to everything I can possibly listen to then turn in into a short blog; hopefullly with a witty and cutting edge.

So here comes one little piece of listening; with comment of course!

The other day at chow; I overheard a few guys bitching about the prospect that they may get stripped searched everytime when leaving an industry job (in this case the wood shop) including strip searches before lunches. To say these men were less than happy campers is an understatement. The thing is: these men were inclined to bitch as opposed to act. One thing that is perfectly clear  to me is how much un-tapped power inmates have over the system. Too power to affect change here at MCC by the inmates is never used. It is not used because the Inmates (as I see it)are too god-damned busy using all their energy and resources eating their own. I am not a career criminal and am not fully aware of all the rules of “inmatehood;” but it seems to me that if the inmates turned their focus on the system rather than each other change would come howbeit slowly. Inmates here, and I suspect across our nation are so worried about the skinner or ripper, or the guy who cuts in line at chow; the guy who got the bigger piece; the guy who does’t look right; the guy who doesn’t shower everyday, they have no energy left or desire left to affect change. They would rather piss and moan just as I am doing now.

But, I have an idea though:

I think if the inmates stood up and said we don’t want to be stripped search 2 or 3 times a day and walked off the job… Done…! FINISHED…! Things would change! If all the inmates walked out of all the industries jobs that cash cow would dry up over night. If all the inmates supported those in the industries by walking away from their jobs in the kitchen or pods things would change even if the inmates went hungry for a few days… I the fore mentioned, men walked away from the work crews? What if they walked away from the school syste? What if they just said in one big 600-700 man voice; “We are as mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore?” What if they said this across the coreec tions nation?

In my opinion inmates need a loose-knit trade union, just like the CO’s and other have. I think they need men chosen from amongst themselves to represent them, just like the CO’ and others have. The inmates have the numbers, they could hve the voice too if they wanted it… They just have to stop eating their own long enough to see if they wanted to, change could come to MCC and to like institutions across the nation.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not advocating this position amongst the inmates (but I will write about it;) the inmates need to wake up and see this on their own…

cci07022017_0006-e1500523592703.jpg

There are three things I find so sad here at Maine Correctional Center (M.C.C.) I thought I would share them with with you. First, I find it so sad when an inmate has resolved himself to wait till his Release to receive proper medical care! That in my mind is simply tragic. I over heard some inmate talking about some liver issue that the medical staff was saying: Booze, Booze, Booze was the cause (when he first arrived:) testing six months later same issue, but no Booze to blame it on; the inmate try’s to get medical to give meds without Tylenol (he takes 90,000mg a month.) At his 1 year health review (at 17 months.) The doctor asked the inmate (why aren’t you on straight blah, blah,” The inmate complains about his repeated attempts to get things changed. He tells the doctor he’ll just wait till he gets out to get things corrected (his outside doctors did not give him meds with Tylenol.) The inmate has Two years to serve, he leaves the room the doctor does not change his meds. SO SAD…..

Secondly, the telephone… I see the telephone as the greatest source of conflict, stress, and strife to see inmates pleading w/ spouses, way ward girl friend is awful… Inmates so want to have some kind of normalcy in controlling events outside the walls. They can’t, and it tears them up… SO SAD… To bad they did not have privacy. They must exposed their frustrations to the world (Dorm) SO SAD…

Lastly, it is so sad for me to see the “Tough Guys,” “The guys who do time; the muscle bound career criminals who prey on the weak & elderly around the dorms hanging out day in and day out at the cages, swinging of CO’s nuts. Yep, it seems the toughest, the biggest, baddest boys are the real  junior CO’s…. SO SAD…..

Bob Wire

cci07022017_0006-e1500522931558

“When people make the choice to attend an Inipi Ceremony, they must be willing to suffer and be prepared to give all of their strength, prayers, and songs to the Creator. It is the only way they can expect to receive a blessing and benefit from the experience. It is said by the Old Ones that the purer a man becomes, the closer to the Creator he is. This is one of the first rules taught to those who choose to walk the Red Road, and it is also the first basic tenet of the Inipi Ceremony. It is the starting point on the spiritual trail, a way of life for those who choose it… or if the spirit chooses you.”

– Erwin Bartlett, “Sweating in Perspective”

~

We’ve printed articles before on the sweat lodge ceremony, as practiced once a year by the Four Winds Native-American Spirituality Circle. I haven’t read any of them, myself. Of course, I’ve seen the picture taken by Sergeant Farin of the red-tail hawk which perched on the sweat lodge last year, and I’ve talked to practitioners who’ve participated in previous sweats; this years Inipi (the Lakota word for the ritual) was my first. As my release date is set to spring time next year, unless fortune dictates otherwise, this was also my last sweat here at M.C.C. Windham.

I know that many misconceptions surround the practice of the Inipi, or sweat lodge, as practiced here an elsewhere, some of which I, admittedly, carried with me previous to the October sweat. Hopefully, in this brief article, I can share some of my own education – a mental, physical and spiritual education – with you.

Traditionally, four members of Four Winds are chosen to assist in preparing the lodge structure, in the yard adjoining A-Pod’s rec. yard for the sweat ceremony. For this years sweat, the four were chosen on the basis of time remaining. Others would have the opportunity at future sweats, or had already had the honor in previous years. Falling into the former category, I had the honor of participating in this year’s preparation. We gathered together on the day prior to the sweat, passing through M.P.U to access the yard where the lodge skeleton rests.

“First, you identify the principle, and then you practice it. Gradually, you understand the principle, that is, you become one with it. When you become one with it, it responds to your will. If anything matters, everything matters.” – Rolling Thunder

Sweats are not unique to Native-American Spirituality. Sauna and sweat lodges are, and historically have been, practiced all over the world – Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Ireland, as well as in the Americas. On a physical, more obvious level, sweating rids the body of wastes, but at a more powerful, rapid pace. In a culture of pollution and toxic consumption with not much exercise and far too much time indoors, a sweat bath unplugs deeply clogged pours and re-establishes the natural detoxifying flow of perspiration. The kidneys benefit enormously, with heavy metal excretion (removing from the body such toxic metals as copper, lead, zinc and mercury) happening in fifteen minutes as opposed to what would take a full twenty-four hours under normal conditions. Saunas are actually recommended now as a supplement to kidney dialysis. Also removed are excessive salts (a cause of mild hypotension) and urea (a metabolic bi-product which can cause a hung-over feeling) and lactic acid (causes stiff muscles and general fatigue). The sweat increases blood flow to the skin, opens clogged respiratory passages and promotes a general detox of our cells and vital organs; we are 75% water, right?

“Stone is to earth, as flesh is to bone.”

– Cree Adage

In previous sweats at M.C.C. Windham, the primary Lodge-Keeper has been “Buck”, a friend of Four Winds for many years. However, due to a recent death in his family, tradition dictated the Buck (also a pipe-carrier) put away his pipe for a year and remove himself from officiating at sweats for that period. In his place, acting as the primary Lodge-Keeper he brought a volunteer from the Maliseet Nation of New Brunswick, “Diamond” Nichols. Buck, a Passamaquoddy was still there to assist with the preparation of the lodge and with him came his apprentice, Newell, also Passamaquoddy. In addition we had the assistance of a fourth Native-American Spirituality volunteer, Michael Fralich, who practices in the Lakota tradition and runs his own lodge in New Glouster; Michael volunteers as a teacher at Four Winds once a month.

The naked lodge structure itself (built originally under Buck’s direction) is constructed of 16 wooden branches.

“What sort of branches are these,” I asked Buck. “Or, does it matter?”

“Everything matters.” Buck countered. “There are 16 poles. That’s eight species of wood, joined in pairs of eight, and joined at the peak as one.”

“In the sacred hoop we will multiply. You will notice that everything the Indian does is in a circle. Everything that they do is the power from the sacred hoop, but you see today that this house is not in a circle. It is a square. It is not the way we should live. The Great Spirit assigned us a certain religion and the power won’t work in anything but circles. Everything now is too square.”

– Black Elk

We covered the structure with blankets, then blue tarps. We left an opening in the tarp, facing to the east. Six or seven feet from the door way, at Diamond’s direction, we began building the fire pit, which he referred to as “the alter”. He explained that he’d brought the rocks we would use from a gravel pit – lava rock, as he preferred. (An untested rock, a river rock for example, could actually crack or explode in the intense heat). He called the stones “Grandfathers” and “Grandmothers”

“They have been in the Earth for so long.” He explained.

Diamond laid down the foundation for the alter with four stones, one for each direction but also for each of Maine’s four tribal nations: the Passamaquoddy, the Maliseet, the Penobscot, and the Micmac. Before laying the stones in place, he held each one up to the sky and prayed with each while facing a different direction, beginning in the East. After laying down the stones, we placed two logs of firewood, end to end, on the south and north side of the alter. In the space between we placed a generous amount of birch bark. Atop this we placed the rest of the lava stones, surrounding and covering those with, surrounding and covering these with more wood and kindling. A final prayer was said and preparation was complete.

Diamond described the lodge as a womb, the path between the alter and the lodge as the umbilical cord. Of course, the lodge is circular and its low door, while preventing heat from escaping, also necessitates crawling to get inside, a position of supplicant humility.

“Much like a fetus in the womb, participants can be equally vulnerable to negative influences during sweat.”

– Grizzly Bear Lake

Like the womb, the lodge is dark, warm, wet, secure and nurturing. Much like maintaining a healthy womb is necessary for a healthy fetus, such consideration is similar regarding what enters the lodge. Participants are encouraged to fast before participating, a pre-cleansing or detoxification if you will. Participants are likewise instructed to refrain from intoxicants, any form of sexual activity, to practice positive mindfulness, and to set aside negativity as a whole. Good intent is of extreme importance. Participants are encouraged to practice an honest self-examination and to voluntarily refrain from entering the lodge if they don’t feel ready – emotionally, spiritually, or physically. If all were 100% pure, we wouldn’t need purification, but an attempt is made to keep out the major, more obvious negativities, which can and will infect the very mood of the ritual. The lodge keeper has the traditional right to deny anyone entrance to the sweat, without explanation.

“The place where crying begins…”

– From an Arapaho Ghost-Dance song about the Inipi

On the morning of the sweat, we all passed through M.P.U. and back into the yard where the lodge stood. Quite a crowd had already assembled there on this overcast, cool morning, and it took me a moment to recognize Diamond as he spoke with petitioners, one at a time. Many of the participants had brought medicine tools with them (prayer feathers, medicine bags, blankets) for Diamond to bless. Extra wood had been brought earlier by Michael Fralich; a fire was blazing.

After stripping down to our shorts we spoke with someone on-site from medical upon our arrival and signed consent forms. Some of us were dissuaded from actually entering the lodge itself due to medical conditions, usually involving the heart. However, as it was explained to us, entering the actual lodge was not necessary to consider oneself a participant; the ritual was the event itself. Long before entering the lodge, I could feel it – the good energy abounding. Standing near the fire were close friends who I hadn’t even known a year ago. Now they were brothers, and you could feel the brotherhood.

It’s little wonder that many arms of the men’s movement have turned to Native-American practices as an example. As men, there comes a point in our lives where we are expected to become emotionally isolated. We become wage-earners and soldiers and leaders or followers and our isolation on any other than a cursory level deepens and deepens. Men don’t share. Men are drones, worker bees, and if we fail at this culturally ingrained mission we drink or drug or self-annihilate. There’s a healing energy in the spiritual practices here at M.C.C. where men come together in fellowship. What a shame that when we leave here, so many of us have to leave the fellowship behind as well. Perhaps it’s sadder that we had to come here to find it in the first place. So many of us leave here and return to manly isolation, and it’s no wonder that so many of us return. When you aren’t a part of a fellowship, I suppose it’s safer to laugh at it.

“The internalization of a different cognitive system always began by drawing the initiate’s total attention to the realization that we are all beings on our way to dying.”

– Carlos Casteneda

Diamond explained what would happen in the actual sweat. He told us that there would be four rounds, each lasting fifteen minutes and each with a separate purpose. He urged us to listen to our bodies and to leave if we needed to. For each round five rocks would be used: one for each direction and a fifth for ourselves. The rocks and the steam, he said, would carry our prayers. Turning, pausing to face each direction, he entered the lodge. We all followed, until the lodge was packed to capacity. Behind us came the first five rocks, carried through the entrance from the outside via pitchfork.

During the first round, we were told to offer prayers for anyone, anything. We went around the circle, as Diamond splashed water on the sweat-hot rocks, each splash eliciting another wild hiss, and increasing the cloud of steam in the lodge. One after another, from left to right (east to west) we voiced our prayers. We prayed for each other, for families, for guards and for the dead. It was beautiful and powerful and book-ended by Diamond chanting in the native tongue, to connect, he explained, with his ancestors.

The lodge was uncomfortably cramped, but after the first round, no one left for a break. More rocks came in and deer antlers were used to arrange them. During this round, we prayed for womankind. Women gave birth to us, were our nurturers, our daughters, our sister, our girlfriends or wives, often times our victims. Unlike the first round, we prayed silently this time. Like the first round it was powerful, but hotter and deeper. I heard more than one man weeping softly, missing someone, mourning something. This round was personally touching to me because of the powerful women in my own life: my oldest daughter who has always guarded my coffin, my adopted mother who always loved me as her own, my biological mother, who died before I could reach her.

Following that round, a few of the participants exited, some returned, some decided to practice outside. During this round, we were told to pray for victims of abuse and for victims; we’ve all played both roles at times in our lives, haven’t we? At this point Newell produced a drum and a flute was brought in for one of us. This round, with five new stones, with more hissing, splashing steam was the hottest yet. At times I wondered how I could breathe such a thick, wet air, but I stayed and prayed. Again, I could hear tears and pain leaving bodies as easily as the perspiration. It was a purge, cleansing and purifying.

The final round left us with fewer participants within, some choosing to finish the ritual outside. This time we prayed for our own forgiveness, for self-forgiveness, and celebrated ourselves with chanting and song. We sang through the intense heat and the darkness, enveloped by a hot cloud we were unable to see.

It was beautiful. Cherry plush.

“An unborn baby doesn’t leave the womb when it gets too hot. Neither do I.”

– Diamond Nichols

When Diamond ended the sweat, he remained inside to pray, to finish the ritual. A handful of us remained with him. “When you leave here,” he said, “Hug your brothers.” Having remained in the lodge for the duration of the sweat, final exiting did indeed feel like rebirth. We’d sweated or cried or sang or prayed out of ourselves what felt like a heavy amount of excess baggage. The cool of the outdoors no longer felt biting, but refreshing. I was greeted with hugs around the fire and circulated to shake hands, trade words or blessings with everyone there, for this truly had been an experience on two levels – individual and group. Not only did I feel cleansed as an individual, but I sensed that the group itself, which (like all groups) had had some recent internal problems, had likewise been cleansed.

“We either enter heaven arm in arm, or not at all.”

– Mother Theresa

Some of us dressed immediately, others waited, enjoying the air, the natural euphoria, while food was served. We each received pieces of cedar from the floor of the lodge, to add to medicine bags or to press between pages of a book.

When I asked one of my fellow participants what he thought, he aptly replied, “Now isn’t the time for thinking.” Similarly, it’s difficult to find words to adequately describe the beauty of this experience. A prison experience, no less. Who’d a thunk it? Quite a few interesting moments happened for individuals during the sweat. Even if I chose to relate them (which I wouldn’t) the words would doubtlessly fail there, as well.

In closing, I would encourage you, dear reader, to find a spiritual path of your own, if not the one I’ve tried to describe, one of your own choosing. Mother Theresa once said that the greatest plague facing the world today was loneliness. Spiritual fellowship, especially in a ritual as intense as the sweat, is most definitely a cure.

“The day will come when the children of the white man will begin to dress like Indians, when they will begin to wear long hair, beads and headbands. That will be the generation from which would come the first true non-Indian friends.”

– Hopi prophecy

Aho.

Being that I seem always to be on the market for a future ex-Mrs. Wire, I thought I would share with the world hte contents of a letter. This letter would be the letter I would love to send to the Mrs., show she could fuckin’ understand that I have nothing to worry about because “I have a place to live and three meals a day”! Hello!

Dear Barb –

I must admit I was a bit taken back by that six-page scream fest you called a letter.  I am so fucking sorry that I did not understand the extent of the misery that is your life in the free world.

Upon considerable reflection I was out-of-fucking place to suggest that you have a lot of positive things happening in your life!  I should have known that your high-paying job could not be close to as rewarding as a job here, for sixty cents an hour.  What was I ever thinking when I suggested you had a pretty good car?  You are right; walking in the driving rain or snow without weather gear has to be better than driving.  Stupid me!  Again, I had no fucking clue our nice little apartment is so bad now. Dorm living with smelly old men has to be so much better.

You know, it must be awful to have all that money to blow on drugs, booze & smokes, whenever you want.  I never should have complained about the meds I get even though they don’t come close to touching my pain. It has to be a struggle for you to be able to order out food night after night.  You are right; I should be happy to pay up to 16hrs of my pay to get a decent meal from Commissary.

Well, Babe, I should end it here so I can lock my self down so some ass can count me.  It must be difficult for you to self-impose when you come & go!

– Love, Bob (the Husband you no longer want anything to do with)

– Bob Wire

Maine Correctional Center for men in Windham

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 220 other followers

Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

In collaboration with the Holistic Recovery Project, the Political Prisoners Blog provides a prisoner's view into what's happening at Maine's correctional facilities.

Only your vigilance on the outside can guarrentee that justice goes on on the inside.

If you'd like to contact one of our inmate bloggers, send us an email.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.