Poetry and Prison

I had a pretty decent weekend. I was going to write about it yesterday, but I already had that other blog written, scheduled and ready to go. I went to Nashville for an open mic poetry reading. I know it’s kind of a far way to go for poetry, but I love poetry, and I was planning on seeing Joe, anyway. If I wasn’t going to be able to see Joe, I probably would have just stayed at home.

My friend Maranda was already in Nashville for Pride so she was nice enough to meet me at the little spot that was hosting the open mic, which they called the mic open, I think. Not sure if it was a play on words or a typo that they didn’t notice until it was too late to fix. I thought it was in a Mexican restaurant when I decided to go. Turns out, it was in a community center. A really cool community center, but a community center, nonetheless. Not that it was a big deal. It’s just that there was no liquor. I am way more confident with a shot or five to calm my nerves. That fear of public speaking issue is a killer. Needless to say, I only had water and a shaky voice when it was my turn. I did five o clock men, which is my favorite and I’ve finally got it memorized. There is a video, but like I said, I was sober with a shaky voice so it won’t be seen by anyone until I die and my kids unearth it on my google photos. And by then, I’ll be too dead to care. I did that poem and another one. Both were hits. Especially, Ten O’ clock men. The poet that I thought was the best one of the night, loved it. I don’t know why I always feel like I need some sort of validation from someone more “professional’ than me, but I always feel more accomplished after I get it. I’m like a kid just looking for a pat on the head from my mom. It’s kind of ridiculous, because I know that I’m a great writer. I’m not a great performer, but I’m working on it, but the writing? I do accept and acknowledge (most days) that I have a gift. I’m going to talk a little more about that tomorrow. After the show, my friend and I parted ways, she went back out, I went back to the hotel.

I got up in the morning and got ready to go see Joe. Then I went to the hotel lobby to have breakfast, but the lobby was small and there were way too many people and my anxiety kicked in soI decided to just check out and eat somewhere else even if it was not complimentary. I haven’t been to see Joe in over a month. Since I haven’t really been working a steady job, my income is a little more sporadic and solely based on any odd jobs I can pick up while I’m not attempting to write (which is another subject I’ll fill you in on later), so I haven’t been able to go see him as religiously as I was. Not to mention I have traveled a bit and, quite honestly, sometimes seeing him like that is more than I can bear. It’s been a little over ten months since he was beaten into a coma. It’s been a little over 9 months since he woke up unable to walk, talk, feed himself, use the bathroom or make any voluntary movements. Every time I go to the prison hospital to see him, I’m heartbroken all over again to see this man who, even though he had a hard time making good decisions, was so full of life and now he’s basically dead. He’d be better off dead than the so-called life he is living now. Apparently in prison, if you can’t clean your room, then it doesn’t get clean. And the nurses have a hard time cleaning up after themselves. He is tube fed, so he has a bag of liquid nutrition hanging on a hook above his bed. It spilled on the floor months ago. It has since dried up and is now a part of the room. There was gauze and plastic cone looking caps strewn about the floor. Also, when I got in to see him, he was soiled. He wears an adult diaper and still has a catheter.  The guard who processed me in didn’t call to tell them I was coming so when I walked in and he was shit and laying on a bed with no sheets and looked and smelled like he hadn’t been bathed in days, I wanted to scream.  Who wouldn’t want to scream to see their loved one in that shape? But I can’t say anything because the visit that I get is a “special” visit and can be taken away at their discretion. Since I’m not family, I don’t have any right anyway. So I called the nurse in and of course she’s just as nice as can be and all, “hello, Mr. Bennett,” and just “shocked” that he is soiled. I don’t get to see him until 10:30, which means they have all morning to check on him and likely don’t. When I asked why he didn’t have any sheets on the bed, she said they don’t have fitted sheets and he kicks off the flat sheets. Maybe that’s true. I didn’t bother to ask why his hair hadn’t been washed or why his hospital gown was caked up with mucus from the hole in his throat every time he coughs. I didn’t bother to ask if she noticed that the whole left side of his gown was wet from sweat and drool and that his hand that is contractured and pulled up by his face was raisin-ed from the moisture as if he’d been laying in a bathtub all day. I didn’t bother to ask, because I don’t want to lose my visits. I just watched her change his diaper and then I watched her take a sterile gauze out of the pack to replace the one behind his feeding tube with the same gloves on that she just used to clean his dirty ass with. I’m no nurse, nor have I ever worked in the medical field, but I’m pretty sure that nixed the sterility of the gauze. Either way, I was relieved when she left and I got a wash rag and used hot water from the sink to wash him up the best I could and powder the creases in his arm that he likes to keep close to him. I checked him for bed sores and only found one where I could see.

I’m hoping his furlough will be approved soon, but I’m fairly certain that it won’t be until the statute of limitations runs out in August for Core Civic and TDOC to be sued for neglect and a whole list of other things. No human should have to live the way he is living right now, if it could even be called that.

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