Fall Guy

June 29, 2017

What would it take
to heal and not kill?
Maybe I could
formulate a pill

I'd make it 
real,
Donald Trump and imperialism
would have no zeal

Cease attacks in the Middle East

Put an end to this
horrid beast
Fallen soldiers, rest in peace

There'll be no more combat
Dress the wounds
Inflictions pierce
mind and body

McDonaldization
controls the nation
Super-sized 
inequality feeds me

The great debate
All-time greatest orator
Speak your mind
First Amendment right

Who rolls the dice
for the undercaste,
the lowest 
of the lower class?

Snake eyes!
What a surprise!
Would you like an order
of the bean pies?

I can only imagine
your staunch reply
as we look above
to our resentful sky

Don't worry...
I'll be the Fall Guy.



     
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Time on Death Row

March 31, 2017

Incarcerated for the past twenty years, stacked on a dusty shelf, and still I shine. Over a decade caged in death row’s double dungeon, San Quentin State Prison. As I compose my barbed wire reflections I can feel cold years dripping down my dark brown face. I’m 48 years old going on eternity. Drinking deep thoughts from a single-person prison cell surrounded by seconds, I notice the hollowed faces of fellow inmates passing by. Can you wrap your life around that? My unconquerable dreams infuse me with hope.

Embers of a former life. On the other side of these dirty green walls I had a beautiful life before death row. Experiencing the births of my two daughters was the essence of life for me. I watched them grow from infants into gorgeous independent young ladies. My only real family. I did everything possible for them. They don’t need me now, yet I’m motivated by their spirit of resilience– I need them.

I worked my entire life. Preteen newspaper routes. I was picking flower bulbs in the summer fields of Washington State at just eleven years of age. I worked as a courtesy clerk for a grocery store while in high school and added summer jobs to that. One summer I was employed as a life guard. I’ve always been fascinated with bodies of water. Retaining the memories of walking on warm, salty beaches, fishing in cool indigo lakes and swimming in cloudy irrigation canals, a living dream.

As an adolescent, no matter how well I did, I was still targeted by police. Instruments to enslave. Stalked and frisked for walking or driving while black. And I believed I was free. Nothing prevented me from being snatched from society and smeared with a wrongful conviction. In your silence was the sentence.

Directly out of high school I matriculated for higher learning. Looking back on my daily grind at a computer factory in Southern California, my job was relatively easy. I filled orders by weighing various computer components to a requested number. After I bagged, labeled and boxed the separate components, one order was complete. For a time I delivered material to tire builders at a large international tire plant. My most enjoyable occupation was auto body and paint. Staying productive, that’s what keeps me focused.

Effects of the 08 November 2016 elections are lingering, embedded within me. Nationally the U.S.A. selected Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, exposing core values and true beliefs of half the country. Before my stomach could settle I was greeted with the passage of Proposition 66, which speeds up the executions in California. I ardently advocated for Proposition 62, which would have abolished capital punishment while converting all death sentences to Life Without the Possibility of Parole- it failed.

Fortunately the California Supreme Court stayed Prop 62 on 22 December 2016. The court is currently weighing the constitutionality of Prop 66 based upon the challenges presented by the ACLU and the John Kamp/Ron Briggs petitions.

I struggled to abolish capital punishment in California via the ballot box in 2012 and 2016. As a protector of human life I simply do not want any executions on my clock. I’m striving to save lives. The people of California voted for death. Ironically, the ‘Campaign to End the Death Penalty’ urged their audience to vote no on Prop 62, the measure to End the Death Penalty. Followers without understanding. Sadly, the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper coupled with the Socialist Viewpoint Publication asked their subscribers to use their votes to keep the death penalty intact. Nothing revolutionary about that. A Trump presidency left me even more disillusioned.

Surviving through lock downs, medical quarantines, and solitary confinement, I decided to make music with my tears. I voraciously read, study and write at this time. I exercise daily and explore art. In my minds eye I envision creating family consisting of friends. I venture beyond these walls with your eyes and ears. Always open to the free flow of communication. In discovering what you feel and see, I find life. Fresh energy. Connecting with the world inspires me to stretch for more.

With my associates in arts and paralegal degrees I help litigate in the California Supreme Court for exoneration. Working on my freedom. Innocence trapped within the Jim Crow prison industrial complex. Sometimes the system gets it wrong, my situation is not unique.

Time on death row can change coal into diamonds or dust. Unchain the mind. In my walk I chose to become a protector of human rights. I’m one with the earth, water and human life protectors. While I’m not able to physically be there with you now, I find ways to sacrifice, resist and struggle. I exist with you. Writing to you on Women’s Day, sitting on a short bucket, hunched over a rusty bunk, I understand a day without women is a day without breath. Overcoming all forms of oppression is my end goal. Allied minds, partners in protecting, come talk with me.

In solidarity,

Donald Ray Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974

Invisible Society

February 4, 2017

Under no circumstances did I care about prisoners on death row, until I was forced to pay a visit. Life is constantly upside down. An invisible society beneath the ‘WARNING NO WARNING SHOT‘ gun towers. we are marginalized behind torturous walls, desperately resisting, refusing to fall.

San Quentin is a dilapidated death camp overlooking the Bay. Ancient granite-rock, diseased high-risers touch the sky, while those of us whom reside within these walls pet a thumb-sized glimpse of the expanse above. Five rusty tiers are stacked high with animal cages on both sides of this distorted gulag. Sixty kennels are set in place on each concrete tier, trapping 750 faceless captives. Unnoticed by most, single—person solitary confinement enclosures trap us for 23 hours per day.

Recycled human waste, more sewage than water is provided exclusively to us, for our nourishment and cleansing. In contrast, prison staff only access Mountain-Fresh bottled water, avoiding the streams of tainted bacteria that decimates the human body. Within each cell, a shiny grey toilet flushes no more than twice an hour. Next to it, a matching mini sink which is attached to a faded two-tone crumbling beige wall. Large chips of lead paint splitting off like dry leaves in autumn dust the floors, along side of the thin slab of corroded metal called a sleeping bunk.

This grimy gulag called San Quentin is as much a mental institution as it is a prison. Loud, delusional conversations blast over five tiers allowing the insane asylum to dominate. This weighs heavy on my mind as I struggle to think. Grossly incompetent medical staff coupled with overpaid, abusive guards bring nothing positive to this grueling and debilitating atmosphere. Trivial announcements explode from loud speakers strategically placed for maximum sensory deprivation, inside the dingy walls of purgatory. The only temporary escape from the ever-sounding madness are tiny earplugs, bringing back a false sense of silent peace.

Living, dying, and existing while breathing this tainted air along with the rest…. I can definitely see death row detainees as regular people for the very first time. Human, we are all human; the good, the bad and the dysfunctional. Society’s trash is a microcosm of itself. This poverty stricken, under-educated, under-caste portion of our society needs a protector against the oppressive powers that be. There are no rich people caged on death row. Donald Trump doesn’t exist here. Suicides outpace executions. Natural causes are the leading reasons assigned to deaths assigned to deaths. What is natural about waiting to die like frightened cows being led to the slaughter house?

I would rather give my life, before allowing another human being to he executed on my watch. My essence, something embedded in me is speaking truth to a corrupt power. I’m an activist for the oppressed peoples’ of the earth, despite being of the oppressed class. As Colin Kaepernik kneels For equality, what are you kneeling for or against? My life is dedicated to this struggle. How can you truly care about something you don’t really see? You might be locked in the gulag of corruption in high places and xenophobia. Maybe you‘re caught inside the forgotten prison of the mind, racism, hate, or irrational fear. How many of you dwell within the prison of poverty? Living check to check or unemployment, maybe even homelessness? Some good people fall into the dungeon of class and caste. There are so many poisonous prisons to be snared in. which one houses you?

When the world starts caring about prisoners the invisible society will be seen. Keep in mind that when Black Lives Matter, all lives matter. Speaking from the inside-out, I know better so I must do better. whatever your toxic prison, you are not invisible. I see you very clearly. Now, if you could just visualize me…

I appreciate your time and thoughts. I would enjoy hearing from you in this new year. Connect with me directly via the lost art of writing. I’ll respond, allowing our friendship to begin. I look forward to engaging in uplifting dialogue with you.

In Solidarity,

Donald Pay Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974