no.02

"If you don’t change nothing, nothing changes. I try to get guys to understand that something’s gotta change in their thinking, their behaviors.... I’m 53 years old; I should have something to say."

I haven’t been in RHU [solitary] this term, but I was on a different bid here. I don’t cause trouble. If I go to the hole, it’s something someone else did. I wasn’t provided with what I needed. They lack medical care and keep the hole dim to manipulate people’s minds. I got lonely in the cell. The dimness brings down how you feel. It’s very natural for humans to have light - natural light, not just the light of a room. It’s not possible down there. Right now, the whole building is the hole. I think people in the hole actually get more rec time than people in gen pop. During rec, I usually use the phone, but there’s not much value otherwise. It feels like a waste of time. It was hell before the tablets. In gen pop, my days are usually mapped out. I wake up, say my prayers, read my Bible, and do legal work on the tablet. I don’t use the tablet for anything else; it just drains people’s pockets. I’m in one of the handicap cells that has a bar in it. A CO let me have it. It’s all about who you know; they don’t actually care about my health.

I wasn't provided with what I needed (green)
acrylic on polypropylene
h 5 in x w 5 in
2020

I’ve been diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and sort of bipolar, but not extreme - though I go from extreme to extreme. I also have hypertension and bad sleep apnea. It’s been since last week that I’ve gotten my mental health meds. I’ve been asking for it and it hasn’t been on the tray. It usually only takes a day and I feel like it’s getting personal. This morning, I felt all over the place. Everything is getting on my nerves, and I’m not normally like that. I’ve gotten really antsy and my positive thoughts are getting cut off by anxiety. I think, “I’m already in a bad place, f it.” I try to stick with my prayer, and sometimes it works. The positivity lasts two minutes; if I had my meds, it would last longer. I know now what the repercussions of not being on my meds are. I’ve asked for therapy in the jail but they say they don’t provide it. Their reasoning is that people won’t be here long enough, so why start treatment? Mental health just distributes sudoku puzzles. I don’t know what to do, but I deal with it the best I can. 

I love writing poetry. I write a lot of political poetry, I write love poetry. I write poetry that inspires people to think about life, government, or just think about the situation one may be in. I write a lot of drug recovery poetry, being that I had got caught up in drug addiction in my life. I was clean for seven-and-a-half years and seeing my therapist twice a week, and then I had surgery on my shoulder and ended up relapsing, which is why I’m here now. As of now, I’ve been clean for 11 months and 13 days. Just making it through an hour in here is hard, and we’re trying to make it through 24 hours in here without jumping on someone or someone jumping on us. But my God has been good. I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation if it wasn’t for Him. I’m just glad I’m sober and I can at least help somebody. It was better when we had more time on the block and I could talk with younger guys more. Now, with young guys, I go right at them and try to get them to see the real picture. If you don’t change nothing, nothing changes. I try to get guys to understand that something’s gotta change in their thinking, their behaviors. I have to explain to them that what you’re living in is just 1% of the world. I’m 53 years old; I should have something to say. It’s hard when you’ve got guys living in that gang life, or in that drug life.

I wasn't provided with what I needed (blue)
acrylic on polypropylene
h 5 in x w 5 in
2020

When I hurt my achilles working on street gang here, they gave me ice, which didn’t help. It still hurts. I haven’t tried to see a doctor because it’s not worth it. They didn’t even take me off my work duty. My gallbladder was also supposed to be taken out months ago but they keep delaying it. The gallbladder issue was diagnosed on the street and I was told it had to come out. It gives me extreme back and stomach pain and exacerbates other problems. Tying my shoes is hard, trying to turn is hard. I can’t do it. I don’t have good range of motion, which makes the showers hard to use. I can’t wrap my arms around to clean myself. At home, I would use a scrub brush. No one uses the handicap showers because they’re first and the whole block is right there; there’s no privacy. They’re a little bigger and have a mobile shower head and a bar. But there’s not even a seat in there. Someone who uses a wheelchair would have to shower in their chair.  

 

I’ve been a powerlifter since I was 13; I have national and state titles. No matter what happens to me, I’ll be lifting until the day I die. The lifting gave me arthritis everywhere, but I just ignore the aches and pains. Since my left shoulder was replaced in 2011, I can’t raise my arm much. They do nothing for that. They’ll give me some ibuprofen, but you can’t take that all the time; it’ll kill the liver. I did physical therapy for years, but they don’t provide me with anything inside to keep on top of my PT. I work in the kitchen from 1-7pm; it’s repetitive to put food on the tray for hundreds of people and that irritates my shoulder and neck. I only stack a few trays at a time. I don’t work too hard because they’re not paying me. It’s like slavery. As soon as you walk in the door, it’s, “Do this, do this, do this,” until it’s, “Get out, get out, get out.” Six days out of seven, we’re just given chicken and fries to eat, but I can’t eat anything fried. It takes me nine hours to digest. I’m not on a special diet because they don’t care. I just eat cereal, like Froot Loops. Working is better than sitting in my cell doing nothing, but there’s a lot of hostility where I work. The suppressed feelings from being in the cell come out on the job. It’s a ticking time bomb. 

I wasn't provided with what I needed (red)
acrylic on polypropylene
h 5 in x w 5 in
2020

I’m an excellent chess player and I used to be part of a chess club in middle school. There are other people on my pod who can play but we don’t get to see each other too often. Playing games isn’t the first thing we’re thinking about when we come out for rec. We try to use that hour to the best of our ability: to shower, talk to our family, and clean our cell. A lot of guys can’t beat me, but I don’t play them to beat them. I play them to teach them about the game. They gotta know how to at least plan. A lot of people here are on probation violation but don’t have charges. They’re only supposed to have 90 days to be seen by the probation judge. All of my cases were done in August and here we are in December and I still haven’t seen a judge. It takes two, three minutes tops. But the jail is full of us, full of people just waiting to be seen. 

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Kate Gorman is a conceptual artist creating systems with color, words, and space. She applies her background in theater, filmmaking, and writing to make work using multidimensional materials.

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