Finding an Escape in Surreal Space
In solitary confinement, the mind becomes a rich playground
It’s imperative that prisoners develop the mental fortitude and discipline to compartmentalize their most cherished and radical thoughts, deepest emotions and grandest ideas — hiding them in a safe space where the insanity of mass incarceration can’t soil them.
This is what you learn when living/surviving under the repressive boot-rule of a system that wields the power to order you, at any time — day or night — to strip naked, squat and open your buttocks so your anal cavity can be checked for contraband.
I sit in the lotus position on my federal, prison-issued cot and astroproject my creative spirit out beyond the concrete, steel and razor-wire enclosure, into the deepest recesses of inner space.
I walk through the shimmering entrance of my forefathers’ and foremothers’ celestial mansion, pausing briefly to marvel at the infinite number of golden rooms. I head straight to the emerald study of the great mother, the immortal keeper of the wisdom desk, and humbly request several large, bejeweled tablets.
Outside, in the garden of radical thinkers, I sit next to the sparkling,` sapphire water of the reflective pool of life.
Once the great books are spread before me, I use the master keys I’ve been given to open them all at once, with a flash of seductive, purple light. I am instantly surrounded by my many elders and ancients; over my years in prison, have become my dearest instructors and advisors.
Queen Cleopatra and poetess Audra Lourde greet me with a strong embrace, welcoming me back to the ancestral realm. Cleopatra leans in so close I can feel her moist lips brush against my ear as she whispers in her husky North African accent: “With your pan-African vision, the right financial backers, a popular social media platform and a little luck, you could unite the warrior tribes of oppressed nations, following the lead of General Hannibal Barca. We must band together to break the shackles of bondage imposed by the New Roman Empire, which you mistakenly call the United States of America. Hannibal was at the gates of the great beast; I could have slain the manipulative whore if Marc Antony hadn’t been such a fool. We both know a blood debt is owed our people! A reckoning is on the horizon. Will you ride for us?”
Before I can offer an honest reply, the revolutionary-poetess Audra Lourdes grabs my bearded chin, gently turning my head in her direction. She gazes directly into my eyes, communicating to my soul without the assistance of words, completely stealing my attention from the military-minded Cleopatra.
“Enough of this scheming and plotting. We have a lecture to attend. Let us be on our way.”
Out of the corner of my eyes, I notice the queen roll her eyes at the poetess.
I follow my two muses as they lead me down the steps into the pool of life. Once we are fully submerged, I find myself standing before two colossal doors constructed of pulsating dark matter. They are a portal through which we travel via the space-time continuum. On the other side, we walk into the regal splendor of the lecture halls of the lost City of Atlantis. I marvel at the familiar faces of my heroes and heroines in attendance.
On the main stage, a young Miles Davis plays his trumpet with an effortless finesse, accompanied by an ageless Maya Angelou, spinning and leaping high up in the air with the grace of an African leopard, as if the rules of gravity doesn’t apply to her.
I take my assigned seat next to the eldest of the ancients, Osiris and Isis.
“Hello, children. Nice of you visit,” says Isis while she sips champagne.
For the next two hours, I listen to an eclectic array of gifted orators speak of the past, present and future: Denmark Vesey, Queen Nzinga, Martin Luther King Jr., Toni Morrison, Marcus Garvey, Frances Cress Welsing, Franz Fanon, Gwendolyn Brooks and Amos N. Wilson.
The keynote speaker is Tupac Shakur, who reads from the spiritual text, “The Book of Nefertiti.” He recites how “a messianic, righteous king…will return righteousness and order to its place and drive evil and chaos from under the sun.”
Then what sounds like thunder booms several times in the sky overhead. The intensity of the cannon-like sounds causes everyone to look to the heavens; even the West African god of thunder himself, Shango, stares skyward.
A low, guttural, Southern growl is heard: “Hey, space cadet. Can’t you fucking hear? I said stand up for the count!” In the nano second of time it took for me to descend back into my physical body and open my eyes, the prisoner in the cell directly across from me pops his water sprinkler, causing the unit’s fire alarm to sound and water to flood the entire bottom tier.
Water gushes across the floor into my cell space.
“Sorry, sir. I was meditating and didn’t hear you announce count time.”
The middle-aged, redneck guard doesn’t bother to reply. He just stares at me like I am a moron, spits inky tobacco juice into his water bottle, and continues counting the rest of the prisoners with me in long-term solitary confinement.
I grab a towel out of my net bag, where I keep my clean linen, roll it up and stuff it under the open space beneath my cell door to prevent the water from entering my space.
I stand at the window in the back of my cell, staring into outer space.