Picking up Broken Pieces
Pieces falling one by one
Scattered at my feet
I bend and try to pick them up
but I couldn’t reach beneath
the bottom of the lowest stair
where broken dreams did sleep
I see flashes of my deepest dreams
Too late to make them true
Time has passed I can’t go back
I don’t know what to do
Pieces crumble into dust
when connecting even two
They cut my fingers if I try
Blood seeps between my fingers
When I try to hold my broken dreams
the scent of memories linger
The pain, the loss of years gone by
The echo of no answer.
This poem is on the newest music video I’m making. It should be ready in a couple days – hopefully. The rewriting of my book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” has taken quite awhile since I began writing. Because I write piano music I began recording a soundtrack for each chapter. A month ago I started making videos and adding poetry, so it is a four part project. What began as a book on Jamie Cummings life in prison has become much more. Time intensive it certainly is.
I decided to publish the poetry so you can read it at one time. In the video you’ll see it one line at a time throughout the video. The poetry has the same title as the music, which is also the title of a chapter in the book, which is in the 2nd draft stage.
I have posted a few chapters I have written but I haven’t posted this one. You will find them on many other blog. If you do a search on the title of the book it will even pull up the first draft chapters.
The title of this poem correlates to the time during Jamie’s prison term when he finally has to mentally deal with, and accept, loss. In the beginning he had an unrealistic hope that if he was good he could get out soon. The 17 year sentence hadn’t really sunk in. I think that is most likely common thing with most people if it is their first time in prison. How did anyone deal with the ride to prison, go through the red tape – alone – and face a prison for the first time with men you had to present the right face to. Taking care of yourself now had a new meaning,
Losing a woman he loved, losing the role of being a father, quickly losing the support of his family, who no longer came to see him enough to pretend it counted. Three to five years between visits – maybe. He lost any type of meaningful communication with anyone in his family, and he never had any friends who mattered. No one answered his letters. On rare occasions his grandmother wrote and told him some things that happened, long after they happened, but they weren’t the type of letters where he could write back and forth about what he was going through.
He came to the point of realizing he had to accept it and let it go. He knew that to keep waiting for someone to write, and making excuses for them in his head, had to stop. He didn’t want to think about why they were too busy to answer even one of his letters. He had to make it okay or it ripped him apart. He didn’t want to think he didn’t matter. It was painful and he was lonely, but he had to get it right in his head.
People in the free world could never imagine life in a small cell completely a-l-o-n-e without anyone who gave a damn. Many of the men he met inside had no one who cared. And no one who helped get the small necessities that made their existence tolerable.
I got angry. I was angry at his mother for saying she didn’t write to Jamie because it hurt HER too much. 12 years, and it hurt HER. Damn, it makes me angry when I write these words. She said them to me and she also said them to Jamie during one of her rare visits. He lost everything and everyone and it hurt to think he was never a priority in his family’s lives. So he had to put it away. He couldn’t change it. It was these feelings of loss he couldn’t change that prompted this poem, “Picking up Broken Pieces”. The music is sad and melancholy. For me it tells the story. You can hear it here.
When I started writing to Jamie in 2007 how could I stop? How could I justify abandoning him, too. It was a commitment. I looked forward too his letters. We’ve sent over 800 by now. It is a diary of his life. It needed too become a book.
He is the father of one of my grandsons. That made him family. Okay, my daughter moved on. She wanted to leave him behind. She had to. 17 years when you are only in your mid twenties is too much separation – unless you had no choice, like Jamie. She later resented me for writing to him. She was trying to forget him and I wouldn’t let her. I’m sorry if it was painful for her, but I want going to stop writing fot that reason. If he wasn’t able to have anyone in his life then there was no way I would abandon him, too. He needed me. Our letters were deep and thought provoking, making him think beyond what had happened and realize why it happened. If you spend a lot of time in a solitary cell and don’t have the right things to think about, you go nuts. Many do. It was important to me to teach him ideas about life and how to change direction. Him being okay and being through this was important to me. Out of 17 years has had only 5 to go. Only 5. A long time still, but time is passing.
Several years ago I started his blog: My Name is Jamie. Many off the posts are portions off his letters. Then came the idea of writing his story. I did a tremendous amount of research and reading to understand our prison system. I also started the monthly newsletter – ITFO News. (I’d publish more often but I don’t have the time unless I can get some – free – help from someone who believes I what I do.
This second blog, Watch and Whirl and trying to keep up with social media is all day ( night) project. In my off hours I write and record music.
This is what Jamie has done for me. He gave me a life – a profession that is much enhanced from what it was. We have been there for each other. There is much more to the story. If you haven’t yet, go to the other blog and start with the white pages at the top,
Enjoy, Learn and Understand. Become a penpal with an inmate who would cherish your letters about a life he can’t live behind walls. Most inmates are not what the media portrays.
If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison – blog on Jamie’s life and other articles on our prison. Educate yourself to reality, not what mainstream media tells you.