They locked me up at twenty-one,
And then they set me free at sixty-three,
All the things I have seen and done,
They still haunt me in my dreams.

All those years in prison,
I couldn’t begin to tell you how it feels;
Of the pain that comes from living,
And of the death which holds no fear.

Even, if now, he were to visit,
I know I would not shed a tear,
Because they locked me up at twenty-one,
And set me free at sixty-three.

But everyone I love is gone,
And now it’s only me.

Robert McCracken LG8344
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

Imagine That

“To understand the flavor of wine, you must drink it.  However, to understand its nature and the essence of wine itself, you must become a winemaker. You must grow grapes with care and attention and then you must stomp and dance upon them to press out the juice.” – David Spangler

In the Information Age more than any other time in history, the notion of ‘walking in the shoes’ of another is widely disseminated in conversation, in print, and throughout social media, while few people actually accomplish such a thing properly and many more don’t attempt to.

Why is the notion of ‘walking in the shoes’ of others so widespread, but rarely attempted?

While the internet makes the notion available, it may be impossible for a person to completely ‘walk in someone’s shoes’ – or put another way, to completely empathize and understand someone else’s experiences.  It’s hard enough with family and friends, and the gap only widens between people of a different race, culture, gender, time period and class.

But, let’s try.  Travel this path with me, try on these shoes.

Imagine coming home from a hard day of work, kicking off your shoes, and dropping your coat and bag at the front door.  You make your way through your own home, seeking the arms of your significant other.  In warm anticipation you open your bedroom door, hoping to surprise your lover.  But, when it swings open you are shocked to discover them making love to a stranger in your bed.

How would you feel if you came home one day to a strangely quiet home, the children’s toys freshly scattered about the living room floor, and the television displaying a colorful picture of a Dragon Ball Z cartoon?

The scent of burning turkey diverts your attention, and when you investigate, you find an unattended kitchen. You turn off the stove and pull the burnt turkey out of the oven.  Smoke clouds the air, causing you to gag.  This makes you drop the pan in the sink and retreat to the bathroom for fresh air.  In the bathroom you notice your lover’s jewelry laid on the counter top next to an overflowing bathtub, with the water still pouring.

In deeply seated panic and confusion, you run throughout the home in search of your family, but you find no one. You call their cell phones and only get through to voice mail.  This makes you yell their names from the pit of your stomach, only to hear the echo of your own voice yell back.

Picture being trapped on the top floor of a burning fifty story building with no escape from the horrors of the hellish flames.  You make your peace with dying in such a painful way, and within seconds the fire engulfs your entire being, the pain indescribable.

However, a glimmer of hope soothes your mind when you see a firefighter within reach.  He raises the fire hose toward your scorching body, only for the extinguisher to spray gasoline instead of water, incinerating your soul.

Imagine twelve individuals with ice picks for fingers who decide to point blame toward you and viciously poke your body from every angle.  When you try to run away, you only end up in the arms of a mob. They start to beat you senseless with lead gavels.

Once the beating is done, you lie on the cold street, paralyzed and gasping for breath while drowning in your own blood.  Your last recollections are of people relishing the moments of your mortal devastation.

How would you feel if you were screaming for help, but no sound came out of your mouth?  You had a knife stabbed in your back and people walked past you, not noticing you slowly die on the side walk because you were invisible.

Picture being a baby trapped in the polluted womb of a drug addicted mother who feeds you amphetamines throughout the entire pregnancy, causing you to be born addicted to a toxic substance, forcing you to lie crying, craving the milk of death.

Imagine lying in a clear, glass casket for all to view while in a church at your own funeral, then watching loved ones and haters alike, slowly exit the church after your eulogy is read.  What disturbs you most is the conviction on everyone’s face that you will never be seen again.

How would you feel when placed into an open grave, in that same glass casket, still breathing.  The more you beg them to stop, the more dirt is shoveled in the hole, the darker it becomes.  The dust starts to dry your throat and you experience a death silence, so silent you can hear the thumps of your own heart slowly stop.

The metaphoric and symbolic language I use are my attempts to make you an emotional pair of shoes, styled as closely as possible to the ones I presently wear on my feet.

These shoes belong to an African American man who has been incarcerated for a murder he did not commit.  Yes.  I am innocent.  My sense of pain and loss due to twenty years of this continued experience cannot be fully described.

My reality is one of injustice.  I believe real love and humanity is created when we attempt to understand others.  We become inspired to act and prevent injustices such as the one I suffer.

Early in this incarceration, I became bitter and hateful against those who persecuted me, but it was too consuming to hold on to.  Hope, faith and love fills my heart, but I’m sharing with you a glimpse of my pain, because you would not be able to appreciate my light without knowing my darkness.  Some people won’t feel my pain, but I will try again to be understood.

I’m stabbed repeatedly
By the knife of misery,
I campaigned for many years
But the world ain’t hearing me.
My soul dying from its wounds,
But ya’ll ain’t feeling me,
The very hands of time
Is right here killing me.
Softly, I’m falling down
Like a brown autumn leaf,
I reach for the warm sun
But its light I don’t see.
To find my lost seeds
Leon and Koby,
To come and hug me
Before they slug me.
I don’t care what the world thinks
As long as ya’ll love me,
With that said,
How can I ever feel lonely?
But I feel dead
Then where in the hell is my dead homies?
Its too many smiley faces
From strangers who don’t love me.
So often, I’m isolated,
Like in a coffin for days,
My thoughts get lost
In my old hood like a maze.
To see yellow rain
Fall from the ceiling is strange,
Muthafuckas out there
Pissing on my grave.

These shoes are too harsh for the average person to walk in for very long, especially when I’ve already worn the ‘soul’ out of them.  I apologize for asking anyone to walk in them, nobody should have to.  Help me get rid of ‘em, by throwing them on the highest telephone line and leaving them there as a symbol of shoes that no one will ever have to wear again.  Imagine that…

Leon Benson #995256
4490 W. Reformatory Road
Pendleton, IN 46064
(Due to mailroom restrictions, any communication with Leon Benson is required to be written or typed on notebook lined paper.  Unfortunately, he cannot receive printed correspondence.)



A New Beginning Awaits Us

The windows here at the MCI Norfolk Security Housing Unit extend from floor to ceiling, about eight feet high, and only five inches wide, impossible for anyone to escape through.  The Plexiglas is clear.  That surprised me, because most segregation units I’ve landed in have cell windows that are frosted over from the outside, making them impossible to look through.  Here, there are trees and lots of wildlife.  I see the occasional hawk looking for a bite to eat or a blue pickup truck driving ever so slowly along the perimeter fence.  Here, we’ve got a view.

This morning I got in a good workout and took a birdbath in my sink. As I hung up my laundry on the clothesline beside my bunk, a golden stream of sunshine poured into my cell.  Drawn to its warmth, I sat down yoga style and crossed my legs at the base of my window, looking out at the nearby gravel and moss.  As I peered through the glass, I noticed a small insect climbing up the window’s sheer face.  An ant was on the inside of the pane, a rare visitor to my cold prison cell.  I gave it a closer look, aided by the sunlight outside that illuminated his semi-transparent body.  He was red.  Should I crush him?   I’d hate to lose track of him and later awake to find him gnawing on a piece of my leg.  Plus, he was likely a scout!  What if he found a crumb and rushed back to tell his army that there was food in my cell?

Twice I held my finger poised above his fragile body, and twice I aborted the assault.  The longer I stared at him, the more I was impressed by his tiny, intricate design.  Surely, in a thousand years, I could never create something so amazing.  So, why should I crush him?  It’s not like cutting down a tree and knowing I could plant another.  So, I let him live, and he continued his journey up the window pane.

“A Stupid Little Bug”

About halfway up the window pane, he slipped and fell, dropping a few hundred of his own body lengths and smacking his tiny self against the sill.  Yet, within a matter of seconds, he was back up and remounting the glass.  The fall didn’t even daze him, though it would certainly have bruised the life out of me. Extremely interested now, I sat watching him scale the glass again, even cheering for him, as each attempt ended in disaster.  He climbed, slipped, and his plunge ended, once again, on cold steel.  I couldn’t help but smile at how stupid the little bug was.  As I watched him try, yet again, my vision refocused onto a blue pickup truck driving by, past the electric barbed wired fence perimeter, driven by a prison guard making good money for driving in circles all day.  Maybe we’re not so much better than the ant?  At least he was trying.  At least he was moving forward.  Quitting wasn’t a part of his vocabulary, I realized, as I watched the blue pickup disappear from view.  The idea of giving up wouldn’t make sense to the ant.  He was programmed to always keep going, keep trying… How come we humans don’t share the ant’s drive to conquer the hurdles in our own lives?

Anyway, the ant made his way about two-thirds up the pane, and I decided to play human helper and not let him fall again.  I grabbed a yellow envelope and held it flush on the window, a few inches below him, like a safety net.  My arm got tired just holding the envelope. He fell twice – once about a foot from the top and again a few inches further up.  If he had chosen to explore the yellow envelope rather than remount the window, I would have simply blown him out under my cell door and sent him on his way.  But both times when he hit the paper, he was back on the glass before I could even get a good look at him.  His enthusiasm made me happy.  I was intrigued to see what would happen when he reached the top of the window.

“A Journey to Nowhere”

And, he did reach the top.  I held my face within inches of him as his antennae touched the black sealant.  He examined it briefly, then turned and scurried off toward the left side of the window.  When he reached the sealant there, he turned around and headed for the right side. This went on for about ten minutes.  Finally, I told him he was on his own, and I pulled the envelope away from the window.  Of course, once the safety net was gone, he slipped off the glass and plummeted to the bottom.  I leaned down to see what shape the fall had left him in and found him crumpled up in a grave of sealant.  He was still moving but only a little, so I left him and decided to eat my lunch.

There wasn’t much to the lunch.  SHU time gets even harder when you’re living on state food.  As I finished off my oatmeal cookie, I looked over to see if my hurt ant was healthy enough to enjoy a sliver of my second oatmeal cookie.  But wait!  He was back on the window pane!  I couldn’t believe it – four inches up from the bottom and moving along like it was the thing to do!  I examined him closely and noticed that all of his parts seemed to be working just fine.  Since I was by myself, with no books or a celly to help pass the time, I had nothing better to do than watch this little guy climb the window for about an hour.  In between, I cleaned my cell, drank some water to hydrate myself for the next workout, and sat down at my desk to write this essay.  All the while, I intermittently watched the ant.

It didn’t make sense.  He had fallen about a dozen times and reached the top twice since I ate.  But he still kept on climbing.  Shouldn’t he have, by now, figured out that there’s nothing up there for him?  ‘Why does he keep climbing?’  I wondered.  I stood looking at him, my face just inches from his.  At one point he stopped moving and twittered his antennae at me.  It was as if he were saying, ‘I just like to climb, buddy!  It’s all about the climb!’

At that moment I came to realize that we all, at one time or another, fail and fall down in life, but like this determined ant, we must never stop fighting, never stop climbing.  Regardless of the destination, the climb is what it’s all about.  And when we are unwilling to give up, a new beginning awaits us all.


Written by a man serving life.
Darrell Sharpe #W80709
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056


Refusing To Say You Are Guilty Can Cost Your Life

If you are innocent of a crime and are offered three years in prison to say that you are guilty – what do you do?  In this country, you better think long and hard about the answer.  Three years in a prison and a criminal record – or your life.

It’s ‘the system’.  If you don’t take the time and punishment you are offered, the charges will be stacked so high, you won’t ever see the light of a free day again.  Messiah Johnson, among others, has learned that.  Some might say our ‘freedom’ is merely an illusion in America, and in this case, it would be hard to argue that point.

In 1998, nearly twenty years ago, Messiah was sentenced to 132 years in prison.  Hearing a sentence of that length, people assume things.  The first assumption is that at least one person must have been killed.  That didn’t happen.  Nobody was killed.  As a matter of fact, no one was injured.

In 1997 a robbery took place at a salon.  Messiah was offered three years to say he did it in a fairly weak case against him.  Three years became 132 years without parole when he refused to take the deal.

Today, Christmas 2017, Messiah Johnson is spending in a prison cell, as he has every Christmas and every day since his 1998 sentencing.  This has happened before and it will happen again.  Without reform of our Criminal Justice System, people like Messiah Johnson will be harshly punished for not agreeing to what they are offered and die locked up in the most incarcerated country in the world, without anybody ever being the wiser.

As it turns out – someone other than Messiah has confessed to the robbery in the salon.  Despite that, Mr. Johnson is spending another Christmas behind bars in the state of Virginia.   The Innocence Project has been on this case for five years.


Green, Frank. “Man Serving 132-year Sentence for 1997 Robbery under Consideration for Clemency.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. N.p., 22 Dec. 2017. Web. 25 Dec. 2017.

Puppy Love

I’ve been incarcerated for almost twenty-five years.  That’s nearly 9,125 days without family, without the comfort of friends, without decent food.

People often mistake freedom with happiness.  When you have lived in both worlds, you know it doesn’t exactly work that way.  Some people are more locked away in their own little worlds than I will ever be.  Freedom isn’t liberty.  The ability to come and go as I please is liberty.  I may have lost my liberty, but I’ve always been free.  Freedom is a state of mind, a matter of the heart, a question of the soul.

What does this have to do with puppy love?  It doesn’t, really, but it reminds me of a dog I once met.  About eight or nine years ago, I lived in a dorm that had a reputation for being in trouble most of the time.  Illegal contraband abound, the rules be damned, caution to the wind, full speed ahead.

So, the powers that be would come in and shake the dorm down for said contraband, usually finding extra underwear, rubber bands, and paper clips – no drugs, no weapons.  Bring in the dogs!

I’ve seen drug dogs before.  I took classes before coming to prison on how to train and care for these special warriors.  They are disciplined, eager to  please, extremely well trained, exceptionally gifted individuals, and I’ve rescued (with and without my dad) at least thirty such animals from dog shelters over a period of thirty two years.  They are mostly Labradors, black, brown, yellow, and white.

They are smarter than people in a large sense and not only man’s best friend, but loyal to a fault.  If people had the same qualities as these guys, the world would be a better place.

When a dog’s service is deemed over, they are usually taken to a shelter.  That’s where Dad and I came in, we saved them from Death Row.

So, when I first saw drug dogs in TDCJ, my heart skipped a beat.  Unlike so many of my fellow incarcerated mates, I don’t have an authority complex.  I was a military brat and proud of it.  I don’t hate people in uniform – police officers, highway patrolmen, National Guardsmen, Army, Navy, Air Force.

The list includes correctional officers.  Personally, I couldn’t do the job they do because of the daily routine of having to enforce every single conceivable rule imaginable.  On the other side if it, I hear inmates say, “Rules are made to be broken.”  No, rules are made to bring order to chaos.  If everybody did whatever they wanted, the world would spin out of control.

It’s also been my experience that most of the correctional officers I’ve had contact with are decent, law abiding – even funny – citizens.  Remember, never judge a book by its cover.

Back to dogs.  The handlers brought the dogs into the dorm and instructed us to remain seated on our bunks and not to pet them.  So, I sat still as they were let off their leashes and went from cubicle to cubicle in a pattern that would make a marching band instructor proud.

The blonde lab, who looked to be about three or four years old and about 75 pounds, walked up to my cubicle and stopped for a second before coming in, jumping on my bunk, and laying down with his head on my lap.  His handler, an officer I had known for fourteen years and who had been promoted to the SERT team, asked the dog to step out.

The dog, whose name was Anvil, looked at him like he had just been asked to turn down a sirloin steak.  I sat calmly.  I was neither afraid of the dog or the officer.  I knew I had no contraband, never do.  Being locked away in these premises means you shake your own cell or cubicle down every day.

The officer told me, “Go ahead, pet him.  That’s what he wants.”

I scratched Anvil between the ears, and he sat with his eyes closed and his head on my lap for about three more minutes.

Then he turned over on his back, and I scratched his belly.  Two minutes later, he sat up on my bunk and licked me square in the face.

“Looks like you have a friend, Green.”

The dog still sat at attention, on top of my bunk.  He wouldn’t leave, I knew the answer – “Release, Anvil.”

The dog got up, left my cubicle and went back to work.

Dog is man’s best friend?  You bet your ass he is.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  ‘Shipwrecked, Abandoned, Misunderstood’, but he still has the things his father instilled in him – humility, respect and love.  In spite of 25 years behind bars, he continues to wake up every day holding on to his humanity and on a mission to change the world for the better.

John Green #671771
C.T. Terrell Unit A346
1300 FM655
Rosharon, TX 77583



Painting A Picture

First, I must apologize for the picture I am about to share because of what it has done to me and what it will likely do to you.  I’ve carefully searched through my stack of pictures to find the one that would vividly illustrate the loss that violence brings, but there were no photos to properly convey the gravity of what I’d like to share.  So, I have no choice but to paint one, a picture painted in words.

Long before I stepped inside a prison cell, I knew firsthand what violence could take away.  Most think they do too, but I want to share another look, an intimate one.

Violence is the voice of my three little sisters saying to me with tears in their eyes, “Are you going to jail?  What did you do?”

Violence is my little nephew telling his Nana that if he eats all of his vegetables, his muscles will turn to rocks because all he remembers of his uncle is squeezing my arms inside a prison visiting room.

Violence is my baby sister, who received the brunt end of my affection, crying as she blew out the candles of her birthday cake because all she wished for was her big brother to come home.

Violence is the aftermath of me taking another person’s life and a death certificate that reads, ‘Parents too distraught to sign’.

Violence is the real emptiness that is left behind.

Violence is the guttural sound that escaped my mother’s lips when the judge gave me a ‘life sentence’.

Violence is the lie I told my mother after the trial when I said, “Momma, everything’s going to be alright.”

Violence is the sum of years that I’ve spent trying to atone for something for which there is no atonement.  It is the tears that stream down my face and stain this page as I write.

Violence is the picture I’ve painted with words, a picture of the true horror and great despair that I can never erase.  I only hope and pray that no one will ever have to paint on this canvas for themselves, because violence is not the answer.


Written by Darrell Sharpe #W80709
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056



At a visit the other day
His little girl asked him
If he would come to her play…

He felt as though he’d cry
If he looked into her eyes
So he had to turn away…

He didn’t mean to lie
But said that he would try
Because he didn’t know what else to say…

She had just turnt five
And couldn’t understand why
He would lie to her that way…

But with time, she would come to realize
It was because he died inside
Each and every day.

Robert McCracken LG8344
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


The day I walked onto death row, I felt like an alien, my mind a haze of confusion and disbelief I’d never felt before. I wore sadness on my shoulders and disaster behind my eyes. The thud in my chest was of condemnation.

With leaden steps, I walked into a warped capsule that was desolate, though filled with men.  Men with empty gazes and dejected postures, like forgotten relics tarnished by the cruelties of incarceration. I had never seen a walking dead man before, I was now cast amongst the lot of them. I dragged what was left of my mother’s son and my state-issued property into a dim 6×10 single cell, collapsed onto the folds of a mattress, and cried. As sleep reached up to cradle me, I prayed that I would not wake up again.

The next morning was better than expected. Some guys woke me to see if I wanted breakfast. A part of me viewed the gesture as thoughtful, another part, suspicious. I arose, stiff and exhausted, yet feeling more like myself. My survival instincts kicked in, I had to get it together. I studied the cell which was to become my permanent residence. Along the back wall was a vertical window of thick Plexiglas, shielded by a steel plate. Each wall, scarred with graffiti and chipped paint, with globs of toilet paper plastered over a cooling vent, and a toilet that was crude, steel, and indecent. Worst of all was the place upon where I was to lay each night, a thin metal slab bolted to the wall beneath a tatty mattress darkened with stains. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with the putrid smell of my reality, and found acceptance.

Later that day, I was informed by staff to pack up my property, and move to another block. There were two co-defendants expected to arrive and they had to be housed separately. I walked onto another pod, identical to the one I’d left, except this one seemed smaller and cramped. Metal-framed bunks furnished a day room area that resembled a military barracks more than a prison block. Stashed away in the far reaches of a darkened corner was a tiny cavity – the shower. Single-man cells spanned an upper and lower tier as inmates meandered from room to room. Some inmates loitered around the day room tables, while others sat wide-eyed before a blurred TV screen. There was one particular table designated as the gambling spot, where several men smoked stogies and drank coffee over a card game. The entire dorm was veiled in clouds of tobacco smoke, the air stale and suffocating.

I received several glances, though no one paid me much attention.  They carried on as if to make me feel less uncomfortable.  A tall, lanky guy sauntered over and indicated which bunk was mine. His accent was West Indian. I felt obliged though I couldn’t help but wonder what he was up to. We made brief introductions as I put my things away. He said that we’d chat later when I was done.

Suddenly, a balding, middle-aged white guy launched himself up from the card game, his face twisted and steaming. He slammed his palm down on the table, puffed his chest, and roared, “This muthafucka ain’t got a god damn thang! He’s just calling to be calling! I’ll tell ya what… call me one more time, sum-bitch, I’mma give you sumptin to call about!”

The threat permeated throughout the room in search of its victim.  I froze.  The West Indian guy assured me that everything was fine, and that the uproar was deliberate and quite common. I asked what were they playing and he answered, “Penny poker.”  Penny poker?  I had never seen anyone make such a ruckus over pennies.  Apparently, neither had the pudgy blond-haired guy who was being yelled at.  With his fingers interlaced and shoulders scrunched, his eyes roamed as low as the floor would allow. I felt sorry for him. I made a promise to myself not to gamble.

Several minutes passed before another guy approached me and introduced himself.  His face was mostly hidden under the bill of a cap and tinted shade, and he grinned as though he knew something no one else did. I was immediately suspicious, and nervous. His upper teeth were crowned with gold fronts and he talked with the exaggerated swagger of an old-school pimp. He was strange and mysterious; the type of guy that whispers for no reason.  In no time at all he was whispering to me.

“Aye, yo.  I’ve gotta way outta here.  You wanna get outta here, don’t cha?” Hell yeah, I wanted out of there, more than anything.  A longing for my family erupted inside me and bubbled over like fizzled cola. I didn’t know the guy, nor trust him, but if he had a way to break out of death row, I wasn’t going to pass it up.  He turned and headed for his room as I followed closely on his heels, cautious yet optimistic.  The guy entered first.  I checked behind me to be sure no one followed.  From the doorway, I observed a room that was well kept, with books lined neatly inside a wall locker and cosmetics situated atop a steel countertop. In the middle of the floor was an Islamic prayer rug. I was scared as shit when I entered.

The guy reached for a book, opened it, and began speaking to me about something he called the Pan African movement.  He said that we needed to elevate the conscience of black people to break loose the mental shackles of our oppressors.  What the hell?  I kept waiting for him to peel back the prayer rug to reveal an underground passage, one that he had tunneled out with a spoon.  He didn’t.  I was disappointed to learn that there would be no path back to my family. I began feeling smothered under the dense layers of captivity.

Later that night, while most inmates were locked in their cells, there were a few of us assigned to the day room bunks due to overcrowding.  I considered this a privilege since we were allowed to move around after lights out, stay up all night and talk.  The arrangement was similar to the county jail, so the transition was smoother than I imagined.  Around midnight, the door to the pod squealed open and in walked a clean-cut baby face young’un.  There were tattoos on his arms and a bob in his step, yet his eyes held a certain unexpectedness.  I was laid back on the bunk thumbing through an African book for my freedom.  The young guy put his things away, turned, and offered me a cigarette.  His courtesy compelled me to open up to him.  He and I talked the remainder of the night about nothing.

One day, young’un was upset with a mutual friend of ours, and wanted me to decide between the two. When I didn’t, young’un was upset with me.  The situation carried on for weeks, in which time we both learned things about each other that we didn’t like – young’un was stubborn, and I was frustrated.  Our friendship became strenuous after that.

A few years would pass, and I hardly recognized young’un. He grew troubled in a way that even his smile seemed to ache.  I know why he was hurting, the same as I.  It was the difficulty of living without his family.  I reached out to the young’un several times, but he shut me out.  The shadows of his transgressions were upon him and there would be no defeating his inner demons.  On August 5th 2007, young’un hung himself with a bed sheet.  He was 28.

Afterwards, death row changed for me.  Before, I had hoped for a reversal and acquittal. Suddenly, the chaos was real; the likelihood that I would not leave death row alive.  An anger inside me stirred for the executions past.  I thought about my legacy and how I’d be remembered.  I didn’t want the pain that I’d caused to be the end of my chapter.  I didn’t want my voice stifled away in a pine box. I didn’t want my children to wonder the kind of father I would’ve been, nor my accusers to determine the man I was.  I didn’t want my life to be a blemish on history.

What I wanted was to have a say in how I am remembered.  I wanted the people I loved to know that I tried to be a better man.  I’d seen how regrets could consume a man’s spirit, I wanted my regrets to be a tool for a change.  And if it should be that I would perish on death row, then I wanted nothing more than to be at peace with myself.  That is why I write.

© Chanton


Texas Death Row Suicide

I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself.
I look to my left and right,
I look to my left and right.
I make sure the run is clear,
Before I take this flight.
I’m not crazy, maybe insane,
But I’ll be damned if they stick that needle in my vein.
We pop pills to avoid the last meal,
Like kids eating candy,
The medical pills become handy.
I’m not a scary man,
But a dead man,
You don’t believe me, look at my appeals man.
I shed these tears out of fear man,
So, I pop these pills to forget the van.
Several years I studied the plan,
I know Texas history,
I know the Klan.
I seen Lil Jack get in that van.
I seen Big Buck get in that van.
I seen Thread get in that van.
I seen Smoke get in that van.
I seen Chester get in that van.
I seen Ross get in that van.
I seen Tick get in that van.
I seen Savage get in that van.
I seen Bones get in that van.
I seen Diaz get in that van.
They won’t get me, ‘cause I have a plan.
I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself.
I am not looking for the lethal injection,
No sir, brotha.
I don’t fit that selection,
I’m 6’4” in height,
They know my cell is too tight.
Did you know pressure burst pipes?
I have a camera in my cell playing games of show and tell,
I am not a porno star, so what you looking for?
My walls are closing in, and I can’t sleep at night,
Fighting off demons left and right.
Lord have mercy,
I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself.
I look to the left and right,
I look to the left and right.
The devil in my sight,
I grip and hold tight.
I’m being harassed every day my officer night
I pace the floor at night with a shot of hot coffee,
Trying to find a way to get this date up off me.
Authorities on my brain, and my mind is locked up.
I believe tonight will be my final cup,
I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself.
Some of you may not take my side,
But I’m trying to avoid that ride.
It’s not about pride, truth be told,
We’re just tired.
I don’t care about a date, I have a plan that can’t wait.
When they find me it will be too late,
Sitting in front of a big dinner eating steak.
I don’t want to kill myself,
I don’t want to kill myself.

The above poem was written by Pete Russell, and shared with me by Travis Runnels.

Pete Russell #999443
3872 FM 350
Livingston, TX 77351


Rest In Peace

A friend of mine is leaving today,
I told him goodbye as he went away.
Be strong my friend, tear in my eye,
He showed no fear as they took him to die.

As he walked away, with a smile on his face
He yelled out, “I’m going to a better place.”
I thought to myself as I watched him go,
It’s gotta be better than Texas Death row.

I just heard on the radio they put him to death,
And his last words were, “I can finally rest.”
I feel ya bro, no more pain and misery,
Rest in peace my friend, you’re finally free.

Written by Troy J. Clark, about a friend of his on Texas Death row.   Troy can be contacted at:

Troy J. Clark #999351
Polunsky Unit D.R.
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351