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How to Save a Life

(That’s also a song title by The Frey!)

If you have been following my blog, then you probably know of my troubled past and my love for the youth who are currently traveling a path I’ve already tread. Not long ago I put up a post about a program called “Prison Letters for Our At-risk Youth.” I’ve continued my correspondence with the head of the program, and I am going to begin facilitating this program on the yard. I hope that the letters will help deter youth from seeking out this criminal lifestyle, as well as help some of us develop compassion and remorse by sharing our introspections. I hope that people will discover the true power of writing—a poem, a story, a letter—and that it will help save lives.

As a facilitator, I will simply connect individuals with the program, make sure that “Thank you letters” from the program to prisoners are being delivered, keep a roster of those involved, and assist indigent inmates.

No prisoner, under any circumstance, will contact any child or parent directly, but their letters will be screened by the program and used in videos, publications, and seminars. I will also be slightly selective in who I ask to participate, such as some of the members from “Criminals and Gangs Anonymous,” another group I co-facilitate. I seek sincere individuals who have no charges against children, and mostly, “lifers.”

I have 20 beautifully hand-woven bracelets with words like “love,” and symbols like “hearts,” “arrows,” “crosses,” etc. woven into them (see photo). Please donate one book of stamps, and I will send you a bracelet as a gift, token of my gratitude, and symbol of your love for these special youth in need. Most of the postage will go to the program, so that they will be able to easily reach facilitators at other prisons, and the rest will be used by me to communicate with them and to assist indigent inmates who wish to participate.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and even done some outright bad things, but I think I can use those experiences to give back now. Rather than remain in a vicious cycle of anger, addiction, and self-abuse, inevitably hurting others, I can use this program as another tool and coping mechanism to stay on the right path and not let the lessons I’ve learned in life go to waste.

I haven’t always been good at asking for help, and I’d have to be damn near dead to ask a stranger to help me without offering something in return. That’s because I believe in the exchange of energies and the exchange of gifts. The spirit in which this is done must be with honor and grace for it to be true. So, I’m asking you to give me 1 (one) book of “20 American Forever Stamps,” and I will give you a bracelet. One style of bracelet is clearly feminine and the other is meant to be masculine, but could be worn by either sex. Let me know which style you’d like. They’d also make great gifts for your spouse, kids, or friends.

Thank you for your time, please write me soon.

Sean Michael Couch, AA9603
Mule Creek State Prison, A-5-229
P.O. Box 409020
Ione, CA 95640

Please click this link and listen to one of my favorite songs:

White Lion, “When the Children Cry” 

“LUCKY13” Poetry Contest

Today is July 13, 2017, my thirty-first birthday, and it is my great pride and honor to announce the
first LUCKY13 Poetry Contest and invite all you poets out there to participate. I’ll write a poem on each subject myself to share after the contest ends.

There are three subject categories for poets to choose from, with no limit as to how many poems or categories one may submit to. (Write to your heart’s content.) There will be a first, second, and third place winner, plus honorable mentions, for each category.

CATEGORIES

1. Home—country/ state/city, etc.
2. Major Wars
3. Outer Space

SUBMITTING

To enter the contest, send a digital version of your poem to Mad_Poet@aol.com. Please include the words LUCKY13 and the the category number in the Subject.

An anonymous version of the poem will be sent to me to be read and considered for the contest. Winners will be contacted privately via e-mail and announced publicly on my Blog. Submission deadline is midnight September 1, 2017; entries will not be accepted after this time. Don’t miss out, submit your poem today.

PRIZES IN EACH CATEGORY

FIRST place will receive a copy of my book Stygian, as well as a guest blog spot here on Mad Poet Enchained, in which the author may write about and promote their work (and leave relevant links and plugs, of course). Their poem will also be posted with links to their social media.

SECOND place will receive a guest blog spot with all the same conditions and liberties. Their poem will also be posted with links to their social media.

THIRD place will have their poem showcased with links to their social media.

HONORABLE MENTIONS will all receive a public shout out with gratitude.

RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS

All rights and control over the work remain with the author. All I ask is permission to post the winning entries once here on my Blog, where it will remain in the archives for future readers.

Strap Your Boots on Tight

Imagine this: about forty “correctional officers” forming “scrimmage lines” around a quarter of the prison yard. You are laying on your belly on the pavement and the sun’s shining down bright. It’s tough to make out who’s who, but easily recognized are the orange straps of the “non-lethal” black guns the C.O.’s are carrying. There are gunners with mini-14s in each of the six towers around the yard and another gunner, an extra pair of eyes, on the catwalk.

Recently, there was a gang riot involving about 20 people. It lasted maybe a minute, and only one person was injured badly enough that he couldn’t be treated at the clinic. I bet he was the one I saw fall and get kicked several times in the face as he tried to stand up.

The riot took place on one of the basketball courts where I’d been working out not long before. I began to see groups huddle up, sending emissaries back and forth shaking hands. I could feel the tension, then I could feel it getting tighter and about to snap. At that point, I quit working out and went to the other side of the yard and sat down. Sure enough, after fifteen or twenty minutes passed, the violence erupted.

No shots were fired by the guards. The rioters were dispersed by grenades that explode into a white powder that’s supposed to take your breath away.

Now imagine this: you were in my shoes but unable to detect the sights of the impending violence. Well, you’d have been right in the shit!

Been Some Time…

It’s been some time since I’ve posted anything, because my life has been a bit full lately. For one, a friend of mine attempted to hang himself in the middle of the night.

I’ve learned to sleep light in prison, and I woke to loud bumping and yelling. When I went and looked out of my window, I realized the guards were at my buddy’s door.
I wondered if he had overdosed. Only a few days earlier, a young man had overdosed a couple of cells down from him. My buddy wants to be sober, but can’t seem to break the habit.

I watched them bring him out of the cell and put him on a stretcher. The next day was when I learned it had been a suicide attempt and was able to learn from my therapist that my friend was recovering.

I didn’t think I’d see him again, figuring he’d be transferred, but he is back on the yard. Someone told him they missed him. I said, “Yeah, I missed you too, but only for a day, after that I had to harden my heart.” He said “Fuck you,” and we both laughed at the joke. But I think we both knew there was some truth to it…

In approximately a two week span: someone overdosed; two dudes attacked a Corrections Officer, who’d slapped a tray out of one guy’s hands; another guy pulled out and began masturbating in front of a therapist during a session; and my buddy tried to kill himself. Needless to say, the prison was put on lockdown for another couple of weeks.

A lot of pretty crazy stuff happens in here sometimes, and I’m just trying to stay afloat and not drown in a sea of misery where my spirit could be dragged to a benthic death. I hold it back but every now and then I just have to let go and cry.

I don’t like it here, so I figure I must fight tooth and nail. Before I was fighting the wrong kind of fight and getting into a lot of trouble. Now, I’m just trying to stay out of trouble. I’m going to groups, school, working out, and practicing to be a positive and productive person. I’m getting better all the time.

Loved by Angels or Delivered to Demons

Sean Michael, April 2017

Even as the angels’ wings disturb the air around me
I hear the demons scream
Somewhere
Somehow they’ve found me

Doubt strikes first
And I stumble
As insecurity delivers a blow
I begin to crumble
I try to speak
But I just mumble

As the words depart my breath
I question their sanity
Just another test
Of my patience for life’s monotony

I’m standing on the precipice
And if I jump
I wonder if the angels will catch me
Or let me fall to demons below
Teeth gnashing

 

Posted for  dVerse Poets, Open Link Night #199, June 29, 2017

In Twenty-Eight Years

Sean Michael, 2014

Twenty-eight years ago, I came screaming into this realm
expecting nothing and knowing only love.
Ignorant of the trials and tribulations that lay in wait for me
blinking the world into existence.
Reveling in the comfort of my mother’s arms,
somehow recognizing her flushed and weary countenance.
Knowing not the evil that would take me in its icy embrace,
having no discernment of the anger that would build
strongholds in my heart.
Unforeseeable pain.
Unaware that I’d be a victim,
not knowing I’d be a victimizer.

Twenty-eight years ago, I only reveled in the comfort of my mother’s arms,
somehow recognizing her flushed and weary countenance,
innocently blinking the world into existence.
I wonder now about that little child,
ignorant of evil and versed in love,
forsaken and forgotten by a man
with strife and bitterness in his heart.

 

Posted for  dVerse Poets, Open Link Night #195, May 4, 2017

Counterfeit Smiles

Sean Michael, November, 2011

I WANTED TO APOLOGIZE FOR ALL MY LIES
I’VE BECOME WHAT I DESPISE
OH MY GOD!!
WHERE’S MY DADDY AT ?
PROBABLY SMOKIN CRACK
OR GETTING SMACKED BACK
WHAT TYPE OF LIFE IS THAT?
WHERES YOUR FAMILY AT?
MATTER OF FACT
THE WELFARE CHECK IS GONE
WENT STRAIGHT TO THE VEINS
WHITE CLOUDS TO THE BRAIN
AND I’M HUNGRY MAN
GOTTA COME UP WITH A NEW PLAN
MAMA YOU NEED ANOTHER MAN
ONE THAT CAN SEE THE GRAND SCEME OF THINGS
SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE EVERYTHING I’M SAYING
DOESN’T EVEN MEAN A THING
PUT ON MY TOUGH FACE CUZ I DON’T FEAR A THING
BUT INSIDE I’M TREMBLING LIKE A CHILD
MY MIND IS RUNNING WILD
PUT ON A MASK AND FLASH EM…
COUNTERFEIT SMILES…

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