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Selections from a Prison Journal
2001--Second Section

8/4 ... some considerations on what so recently was thrown into high relief by this move and the loss of a decade of friendships. It's so strange, at first as a criminal i'm yet/still a national citizen, then as a prisoner i'm made stateless, and as an inmate personless, as prison strives to organize the plurality of human being as if we were all one individual-- thereby reducing each to a never-changing identity of reactions, in this way all can be exchanged randomly.

... with this loss of human rights comes the generalization of Man, but Men without a profession, without citizenship, without a validity, have almost no shareable opinion. Nothing we think matters anyway, without expression the freedom of opinion loses its significance. It would seem that a person who is nothing by an individual loses the very qualities which make it possible for others to see/treat him as a fellow-man, the calamity of the rightless is not that they're deprived of life but that they no longer belong to the community, therefore, because of basic human needs, they group together like any other herd and are swayed by the majority or Rule of the Strong.

... saying that, spontaneity can never be entirely eliminated because language both permits and promotes exchange/ the fact that community is the only valid way to check personal reality. In prison individuality is often preserved through a persistent stoicism, each day taking refuge in the absolute isolation of a personality without rights ... but very aware/sensitive to his humanity. It is, in fact, a contempt for reality which makes possible changing the world through the erection of the human artifice, community included.

... during this period, as never before, my humility has engendered friendships who ask nothing, as we have nothing to offer, we are powerless but not respectless, each of us (long-term) convicts soon learn to create a circle of shared glances and small movements, when possible we spend time together. This time is not of either the outside world--which is long past--nor even of the one behind the fence--which is mundane--but all that's left after the reductions, ideas and camaraderie, i would suppose much like war-time. Therefore, leaving, one prison feels as if the world had yet died again, i am doubly reduced into stoic patterns and am in awe of how much so little meant. is not that's not a din of language constant, it is, rather, that i am not 'in it' and have found neither the desire nor the venue. As each of us in secret-heart feels the universal center, now that mine's been moved i spin without the ability to find reality, to verify a common viewpoint, which in essence is what community does. Being rasped into this sensitivity without recourse has shocked me --once again--into the realization that the rules i live by have an uncanny similarity to those of the SPCA and mental. attributes allowable are the proximity of those few others that shared not only my situation but an awareness of what being powerless/rightless does ... and conversely, what friendship is... and how it bonds, creating its own inner power, allowing a sense of action, albeit small, it is the kernel that allows/promotes transfiguration.

... being off my island i am in the ocean, holding the raft of memory; even the sight of land (seemingly so close) is filled with trepidations, that with the freedom will (by necessity) come a slacking off of this awareness, as if the loss of my rightlessness vanishes with my friendships.

9/1 ... new-month, sunny-Sept. What is this habit, this pouring words, why and to whom. An excess of energy expended, a method of justification, an activity to pass the days. Random thoughts incomplete: Jews in this community, Zionist ... i'm not just uncomfortable, i avoid them. As appalled as i am at the Palestinians, i'm embarrassed at/with the Jews. The furor itself is disturbing and i'm not sure if it's not my own unwillingness to deal with conflict, or a general cowardness. Be-that-as-it-may, to hear my group (of which i count myself but shun) speak of extermination, of a final solution, is incredulous and incongruent at the same time. So much so i can not/will not participate and can not listen. One wonders if this self-rightousness is ubiquitous amongst american jewery, and if so, is there a division between old (WWII) and the 50's children now grown with the constant motto "Never Forget". [at this juncture mind splits, either to look historically, finding cause, or personal psychology, my own discomfort/fear of conflicts and that i some how feel genocide is not a solution (which actually it may be, it's just i don't like the implications)

.... at the same time, but with a different brain-set, think that monastic living has given me the distance to at least avoid the simplistic views (most likely i've developed others). Here now, at this institution where most have short stays, they're frought with things of the outside world, their legal situation, their sliding relationships, wives, children, their money and when that's not enough, an intensity about 'the news', both local and quasi-political, (their neighborhood or the criminal justice system) and so they're filled with angst and little else.

i see myself as a human first, then artist, prisoner and Jew near the end of the list ... yet still jewish is how i am in that one must (due to how one is seen) make the connection, as in being black, being jewish is not a choice (unless one hids/lies ... which historically has proven useless when the chips were down). Being jewish isn't something i think about, especially when, for me, believing in god is besides the point, not even a question i consider worth considering... but as a cultural jew, there's no doubt ... it's a badge. Its tradition's are mine, humanistic, scholaristic, philosophical, an outsider ... and i suppose that's part of the reason i have such problems with seeing 'my' group assume a stance that they abhor, concentration camps and 'a solution' (the very term should burn their tongues). Not knowing how to feel --except badly-- i remove myself, in fact go the other way, sympathizing with the down-trodden (how jewish) and since Israel is and has been an american military outpost, i find it's easy to object and distrust.

... and in the end i think most of the other countries will also, by this action the jews will assume the reputation that's taken centuries to overcome, we will be the babykillers, and no good rationale will ever justify using the same tactics used to exterminate us. Hypocrisy causes rage, as wealth causes envy, it's if we were precipitating our own demise with foreknowledge, (the rabbi said the world was scheduled to end, i suppose he feels the instrument of divine will) and this is counter to my belief, i'm embarrassed.

10/5 ... blinded by estrogen again, thankgod again, t'was wonderful even if the backwash (and including it) sweeps. The myth 'o the word, as powerful as a sea-that-unites, isn't the glimmer of the air/light i see by, images mean all, are all and a shallow surface carries content like dinoflagellata. The eye and the light meet, down from the stars, desire/delight, am old enough to even appreciate it in myself. Also/too even the backwash filled with the roilings & windrows.

...even the (self)deceptions (un)conscious are a relish, not telological but immediate, my (anti)thalia thus became a terpsichore, the transforming muse and metaphor. The root-of-the-seed's in the wetdark/wanting, buried farther than perception, and even as an Aristotelian there's ideals that loomlarge, her's is one/many. Thankgod for Eros/Dionysus and being burnt asunder... again/again by slattengirls and wannabes. Having come to the point wherein failure's a measure too, i can only feel that the last 5-yrs were wellworth, no matter the outcome... and how knows down what darkcheap motelhalls i'll wander with what luck and who.

... not the question of how-to-use, as the story's deathending, rather how-expose, all fragments bubble/glint, even into sidebars on the framing edges ... and allow/force recognition of wholes --continous --if impossible. Sooner/later this too will underlay and uprun on some clay surface or splatter across a scribbledraw. Nothing seems as real as something sublimated into something more. The pleasure and/of the pain, two dogs eating each other in darkness--for the energysymbiotic/symmetry and only the 2nd law intercedes. Today i'm okay with it, for now... i will, and/or she will, and/or they will ... for today.

10/12 ... close to 5 yrs to the day, how somehow blank i feel, and at same time understand i'm overwhelming, no wonder they find me too much to continue. "It's over", or "I never thought I'd be this way," or "I'm sorry", and it sounds so easy (and maybe it is) . And i wonder what they do with the objs/pages and memory, since i remember, i can't imagine them not, and t'is only that they have a center-strength i'm lacking to be able to end/abrupt... yet i must appear strong enough to deal, and am. So this a swansong for terminated lust and recognition that i've gained, it's still possible/desirable but best accomplished if backholding to make them strive, in a word, never-show-all-the-cards.

... yet the skinny-lady hasn't sung, it's my obsessiveness that wants to jump, and even then, even if ... it's i who wants control and this the rub. I like to think that i'd like to be the leaver, yet given history i'm not... the roles reverse in my relations ... as i suppose i choose them for to do. I can only hope i'll do it again/again/again, if nothing more i adore the energy, even that of loss-gone-bye and hope she (they) remember with fondness as i.

... not the prison/situation but my person, nor willing/wanting to change, the only option's to accept in myself my nature, craving attention, too needy/ impossible, i live for the burn-Phoenix, caution and my heart be damned, damn if i won't do it again... and use these very words, again. Contingent complexity's neither a fault nor a solution, rather a method of viewing/ living-process, not evolution but more growth, and in that the seasons-of-change. At this point i'm not sure if it's my Fall or a fresh Spring in this tree-of-life's ring cycle ... but the older i am the easier i accept, this too is gonna be okay and i just hope she's gonna also; she was/is a goodfriend, i'm self-pleased (if at a loss) that i did and she did too.

12/20... t'was a bop/Medical trip-out to correct leg differential, and a comedy of errors as normal. Yep, 7:20am was called-by-officer to be escorted by said-same to the chain-up room, where i'm stripped, left standing in boxers ... and informed it's to see an 'orthopologest.' Immediately i request they bring along my shoes--knowing they'll be needed--but it's unprison-policy without special permission... and finally they acquiesce. Chill, chained and guarded, we hobble through the brightly lit front lobby, sans photos of The-Bush, his Ashcroft and the whole smiling photo-op Bureau staff ... and the rag-tag waiting visitors with children, waiting to see their fathers for this happy-season, a lobby that's become a standard, Airports, Banks and Schools, a blank space with harsh lighting, metal detectors, plastic desks/chairs/plants, large well framed signs with notices, rules, regulations, stating the penalty/crime for non-compliance, dollar and time to serve if convicted. Out to the walkway and waiting van in mild drizzle, walked as if an invalid, the cop holds my chain, not for support but in case the sight of unfenced grounds sparks my rabbit instincts to make a dash... and i'm corralled into the seat and strapped down.

... cars, in the last 15-yrs i've only been in them 6 times, yet my body knows the motion, i even look both ways at intersections, and the sound of tires on pavement. Of gates and roadside rocks painted white, of gravel-siding gray, out to the hiway thru demographically Red Suburban America with fast-food joints and shopping malls with tacky Christmas tinsel cheer and red/white & blue everything-like-flags commemorating the war, the way of life. Then the drive through countryside supreme, i'm always impressed by the sky's propinquity to the land, the rolling california hills, the shadows thrown into high relief and the space, the sheer volume of space. Space unseeable from prison, space unbroken by fences, space/air/light of the landscape, it's wonderful beyond all small throughts, wonderful past human conception, it is the AlphaOriginal of Awe.

...anyway back to the shoe-lift tale ... When i'm first told it's for that, i request they bring the shoe ... which with reluctance they do... and of course the first thing the doc/technician asks for is the shoe ... i smile, the cop grins... and so it begins, as it turns out the doc (who's really only a licensed orthopedic technician with SUV license plate 'LIMBMKR') is sharp enough to have looked at, and measured, the impressions the prison took 2 months ago...thank goodness--cause he saw the problem was on the Left-Side, it's short by 3/4 of an inch... (he said they usually get it the other-way wrong, shortening of the repaired hip-side) but since the Bureau's doctor had written that it was the Right leg by only 1/4 of an inch,, and that it was the arch, not the heel, he could only make arch supports with a 1/4 inch lift... So, i've now got a slightly raised Left Leg with full arch support. Ohwell, the technician said i should request, thru the bureau, another fitting... and the cops smirked. Perfect!

... then the wait, the wait to get there and the long-cold wait after the fitting... (what took the fitter 15-mins took the bureau 4-hrs of driving/waiting) but no one was unpleasant, only slightly confused/rude... and once again it was a trip outside the fence, a reminder that i too shall be able, even with a limp it's gonna be grand. I suppose i needed this part of the process to get to the next stage ... another trip 2 or 3 months down that landscaped road on the way to another lifetime. Hello New Year.


Selections from a Prison Journal









Stephen Dubov  82661-011
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 1010
Bastrop, Texas  78602