From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

There are many people in our culture who claim to possess the truth, but few who are willing to pursue the truth. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America claims to possess the truth but does little to pursue it. To pursue the truth, you need to start with a question. There is no question as to how America’s current penal system was built for Elizabeth Hinton. The answer is set before she even started. Our current penal system is a result of America’s racist government. Every step of our current history has been carefully planned out to crush minorities in this country. Police have historically been concentrated in inner city because that is where the highest density of minorities live. The matter of crime rates is of no importance to Hinton. The entire book is centered on an answer that was set before the book was written and quite possibly researched. I’m not informed enough to say how we got here, but I am sure that offering a false either/or dichotomy is not in pursuit of the truth. Nor it is helpful when there is an obvious need for both police and prison reform in this country. If we are to make progress on either front, we need to honestly look at how we arrived here. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America in America only serves to distract from the conversations needed.

An Expanding Vocabulary

My son attends preschool a couple days a week and is really growing as a boy  Sometimes I see him as a young man already at such a young age.  He is excited to share the things he learns and my wife and I are excited to hear about it.  This poem is inspired by his ever increasing vocabulary.  It baffles my mind that he knows so many words already.  Read on and see if you an guess the newest vocab word in his repertoire.  It makes me smile.


Frickety frickety fack fack, foockey froo

Foocku feekey focky frickles foony foo

Hey, son, what are you trying to say to me?

You know you are only three

No, no way no it, it just can’t be

Feeking freaking fickles foock

Foekin fecking feekles frack

Feek feek fo fo foekay frat

Fockity foockity feek feek fat

The lack of rules, man it seemed so cool

But now we’re the fools sending you to gangster preschool.

Fock fock fookey fook feeka feeeky funk

Freeky freaky foocky fock fock frunk

Montessori for everyone? Well maybe not for me

Based on your curriculum for vocabulary.

But maybe I’m wrong, there’s probably no way

Foocku, fockey freecka funky frunck fray

Oh Geez

Frickles frackles freckles Freeze!

Oh Gosh

Focku fockey fockay frosh!

Oh  man

Frunky fracka frockyu fran!

Oh boy

Foocka, Focka, Freeka Froy!

Son, please. at school today, I think you learned something new

Which is exactly what you are supposed to do.

However I think we should wait til your mom gets back

Fick, Fick Fickity, frick, frick frack

Foeking feeky focking foon

Fockity feekity foeko, foekay, foeno, foocky froon..

Well I hope your mom has better luck

Because it sounds to me like you are saying…….

Ditch Shoes

I’ve started looking into competitions or literary magazines as a way to build a reputation or at least a portfolio of published work.  It’s something that is always mentioned in agent’s bios so maybe a couple of published works will give us some street cred.  So here we are researching places to submit, with a special place in my heart for the free ones.  One such magazine is called On the Premise.  They recently issued a call for a short story competition about a piece of clothing that runs through the story.  I chose shoes.  I chose shoes because of another real life inspiration, a gentleman who tried for months to find a home for a new pair of shoes he found in the ditch behind his construction trailer.  He would ask everyone with such a genuine persistence if the shoes fit with an obliviousness for the rest of the happenings in his life. I found it fascinating and hilarious.  So I decided to try my hand at a short story about these series of events and it ended up being a hard story to write.  It was difficult to capture the character because I was so baffled by his motives.  Why was he trying so hard to find someone to wear these shoes when it seemed the rest of his life was crumbling, when it seemed like he had a lot bigger fish to fry then some ditch shoes?  Maybe the reasons why it didn’t seem like a good idea were the reasons he thought it was. This was the premise I tried to convey and unfortunately it did not hit the home run I was hoping.

Dear RYAN:

Thanks for entering the 31st “On The Premises” short story contest. We received 231 entries. Of those, 10 were selected for the final round of judging. We’re sorry to have to inform you that Ditch Shoes was not among them.

Our next contest, a mini-contest, will begin the same day Issue #31 is published (in mid-April). Look for it, and keep on writing!


The “On The Premises” editorial staff


Yet it was a good learning experience.  It seems the short story is a great vehicle to practice your writing and hone your writing style…..find your voice as they say.  I think I’ll try again here soon.

Be Excellent to Each Other

Be Excellent to Each Other

I recently read how the story of Bill and Ted came to be. The writers wrote the script on yellow legal pads governed by one single idea. What makes us laugh. It was something written for them. They weren’t sure anyone else would ever read it, but they wanted to make something that they enjoyed and were proud of. Bill and Ted was meant for them, but it found its way into the world and now we all know how important it is to be excellent to each other.

This is a conversation Ryan and I have wrestled with over the past year. We have written a children’s story we are proud of and laugh constantly when we read it. Now matter how often we reread it. The story of a forgetful squirrel and the predicaments he finds himself in. Despite the joy we find in the story, it hasn’t translated to the world. Family, friends and random girls in bars enjoy it as much as we do, but the ‘right’ people don’t seem to want it. The people who can carry the silly story of a forgetful squirrel don’t seem interested. This has left us at a loss. We have something we are proud of, but we can’t get it delivered. We have wrestled with what to do. We have tried reproducing excerpts in other mediums. Looking for something that will stick. But after reading the account of Bill and Ted, I don’t think we should change anything. We have something we have enjoyed writing and we enjoy the finished product just as much. I say we stop trying to make it ‘right’ and stand by what we have. We have something we are proud of. We shouldn’t try watering it down just to make others happy. This is my renewed commitment to getting Forgetful Jerry, as he stands, published.

One Eyed Wild Winking John

I have a book that I write in on the train.  It’s a larger yellow book, a mustard yellow book with worn white marks.  White marks and dog ears from the startled packing of my bags every morning when my stop sneaks up on me.  While it seems I might mistreat it in my urgency, the book contains the contents of all those ideas that may or may not pan out as a story worth the pursuit.  Sometimes the story starts in the middle, sometimes it’s one rhyme or one line that I become particularly fond of and do my best to make something of it.  The poem below started from a gentleman who always has one eyed closed when he talks.  One eyed closed like the sun seeks out his face to shine the brightest whether One-Eyed Wild Winking John is outside or whether he is inside.  So that begs the question, how does one get dressed when one constantly winks?……

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his clothes on.

He stares at his clothes while he thinks

then makes a choice as he winks.

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his pants on.

Right leg first, then his ear

“This is going to help me hear.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his shirt on.

Left arm first, then his nose

“That’ll be warm I suppose.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his shoes on.

Right foot first, then his hand

” Watch this now, I can stand.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his belt on.

Around his waist, over his toes

“This’ll keep on all my clothes.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

Says he has his clothes on.

With pants on his ears, and a shirt on his nose

Shoes on his hands and a belt on this toes

With a hat on his finger and a scarf on his knee

“Looks good” John says as he winks at me.

Now getting dressed while you’re winking

Must be harder than we’re thinking.

So unlike One Eyed Wild Winking John

who winks when he puts his clothes on.

When you decide to look your best

Open both eyes when you get dressed.