Drug War Prisoners


Lashes From Their Whip
Letter from Reginald Alexander, serving life in Georgia, postmarked 29 October, 2002

Dear Committee,

It’s been quite some time since I’ve heard from you, and probably even longer since I’ve written you back. I hope you are in good health and spirits, continuing to do your part in speaking out on the injustice done to those convicted of drug crimes and those sucked into the huge vacuum of drug activities.

The year 2002 has not been rewarding for me. I could give you a litany of things gone wrong, but I’ll save the ink. I am presently in isolation (essentially the hole) at a different prison than when we last corresponded. My infraction? Refusing to work (in the prison’s factory) for free!

With me it’s a matter of principle. Why should I take on a job – they call it a “detail” – for no pay or incentive (like time off my sentence)? It’s akin to being a slave! I’ve been imprisoned for 12 years, at 4 different facilities. This is the first facility that has tried to force me into slavery. The hole is their “whip.” The amount of days I remain in the hole is the number of “lashes from their whip” I can endure!

I may very well die in the hole one day. But I will have died while standing up for a PRINCIPLE, not while lying down for slavery!

To compound matters, my outside connections and correspondence have been obliterated (not by the prison). One close relative passed away, the others simply faded away. Twelve years in prison will do that to relationships.

I am not in the habit of asking favors, and I hardly have the heart to do so now, but I can’t think of any place to go for help (which underscores my desperation).

I need about $100. Here’s what it is requested for. $74.79 will go to USA TODAY for a six month subscription. It is the only way I now have of keeping up with national and world issues, my last link to society, a modicum of freedom, if you will.

The other $24 I would use to purchase stamps, envelopes, and paper. When I’m unable to write, it feels as if I’m choking. I have so much material inside my head. Oppression brings out truth and expression. Now I cannot promise to repay the money any time soon. But I’ll receive $150, some time in January, for second place in a poetry contest. I placed second with a poem I’d written 6 years before but had not submitted to a contest since then. (I enclose a copy of the original.).

If you can do what I have asked, please send a money order to USA Today [Reginald goes into details of the transaction.] I would like to know how the web site is coming along. Would you like me to write an article for the site? Please bring me up to date.

I remain a POW but NEVER A SLAVE!

Sincerely,

Reginald Alexander

Reginald’s request has been met with a contribution generously provided by a Committee supporter. He has no need to repay the sum with the prize money. Below follows the text of the poem which placed second in the poetry contest Reginald entered. Please respect copyright provisions.

 

2,000 DAYS … 48,000 HOURS
Reginald Alexander
 
We have been apart for more than 2,000 days
48,000 hours that have separated us
Like a valley that runs between two entities
Perhaps we never thought of one another
during those times …
Perhaps we did – often – but there’s no proof
At least none that exists outside our own
hearts and minds …
If you thought of me those nights you lay
sleeping in another’s arms
If I thought of you those days I sat alone,
no company inside my cell but the lonely sound
of my own beating, dying heart
Then we were never really apart – just away
Yet we have allowed time to pass us by
To alter what fate may have had planned for us
Time has washed away yesterday, clouded tomorrow
and left us only what we have today
Now here you are, after so very long
Knocking on the door to my heart again
Asking, waiting patiently for me to answer
If you are left standing outside
the door to my heart …
If I have not answered your knock for love …
It is not because love is not at home
Nor is it that my heart does not live here …
Rather, if I am hesitant to answer
Remember that you represent what I fear most
Love, trust, promises and heartbreak
They all stand delicately on a tightrope that looms
over my head, over my life … my sanctity …
Threatening to enter into a world
that has learned to exist without either of them
“My world,” where I have learned to live alone
Where I have learned to love me
To trust and believe in only me …
Where I have no need to consider promises
No reason to fear heartbreak
From where I stand, love, trust, and promises
have no true meaning, absolutely no relativeness
They are simply words that remind me of why …
… of why I chose to believe in only me
The “me” that you no longer know
The “me” that has become me
I am not who you claimed to love 2,000 days ago
I am 48,000 hours different from then
I now see what “love” would not reveal before
I now know what no one could tell me before
So I am changed in a way that is unchangeable
My mouth will smile but my heart knows one thing for sure …
The laughter won’t last
It never does …
Therefore, I will open no closed doors for you
in my heart
If you are to enter into my world again
You must find your own way in
Just as you found your own way out …

 

 

 

 

 

About COUSColumns SectionContact COUSDocuments SectionDrug War Talk SectionLegalizationLettersLight SideLinksMediaProjectsResearch