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–Whats Love Got to Do Wit It?

–A testament of….

–When I was shoved into Death Row I was shoved into the face of many struggles; from
those that could be seen to those in the subtlest places. I would go as far to say that these
are the most important struggles we’ll encounter.

–I was a 19 year old male treading upon the footsteps of manhood; because manhood to
me goes beyond a deep voice, facial hair, and virility. I was a young male with desires;
with a desire to be loved. NO, NO, NO, not loved in that sense. I had a deep desire to be
loved by a woman; to be in love with a woman; to have the woman I’m in love with to be
in love with me. I desired that. But I was faced with a contradiction. I was not only
locked up, but I was on death row. No woman would fall in love with me because she
wouldn’t see me through all this concrete and steel; who I am; my beauty. And if she even
saw part of it, if she fell in love with me because of who I am, she wouldn’t be loyal. She
has desires too. I couldn’t fulfill all her needs; her sexual needs. But could I blame her
for spreading her thighs to let another man inside whats suppose to be mine. I get light-
headed just writing about it, let alone thinking about it. To want what you cant have? No,
I deserve to be loved.

–Here and there prisoners were getting married; and some of these marriages were real.
They were really in love. It could happen. It was possible. I was happy for them. Give a
brother a chance damn it! Yeah, I was sad too. I wanted love. But I didn’t want it the
way so many did, teasing it like a pork chop held out of the reach of their pet. I wasn’t
going to entice a woman into falling in love with me just so I can get what I want. I
wasn’t going to insincerely romance a woman to get her to fight for my life. If she
couldn’t see the necessity to fight for my life, if not on the merit of the injustices in my
wrongful conviction, then on the strength of my human worth, I don’t want her in my life!
–Then I looked around and some prisoners were eating good! They were getting whatever
they desired off of commissary. And some of them were able because they were waving
that pork chop. I wasn’t going to send out letters written on toilet paper asking for money.
I wanted to extra stuff, but I didn’t need it and wasn’t going to play on someones tender
emotions to get it. My emotions were also tender. I became angry. Some of the fakest
cats I’ve known had the realest “pen-pals”. Some of these pseudo-revolutionaries, paying
mere lip service to struggles only a few of us were actually sacrificing in, had groups,
organizations of people fighting for them; when they were equally wrongly convicted but
true revolutionaries, visionaries, men of probity, that support, pumping life into a struggle
with their sharp discipline and burning passion.

–Yeah, I was pissed. I struggled to get anything going for myself and my vision as I went
from pen-pal to pen-pal. But I wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t going to play a role. My
pen-pal request ads would remain me, not somebody I felt people would like; an unreal
me. Yet my dreams, my desires sat like dusty trophies in a tomb of deferment; no
different than me in the tomb of this cage fighting to keep dust off my words, my
thoughts. They too shall not become overlooked treasures relegated to trash.
–No, I began to give up. “The universe must not want me to struggle in this way; to build
a campaign to save my life.” I had nobody to fight for my life but me. But I couldn’t
really give up. I was just constricted. The space was small. The clothes were tight. The
air was dense.
•“It’s building
•up in me,
•but what shall erupt?
•It’s bubbling over…
•I don’t know if I’m holding it back,
•or fighting to let it go.
•I’m imploding into spiritual existence
•while exploding into a revolution.”
–--excerpt from my poem, “I’m just a Medium”.

–So I “exploded”, like Langston Hughes, “Dream Deferred”; exploded into a revolution
inside these walls. I was subjected to riot teams, riot shields, and riot gas. They drew
blood; they deprived me; they tried to starve me. What they didn’t understand was they
couldn’t starve an already starving man; a man starving for his life back; a man starving to
be seen as a man; a man starving to BE…

–Then from
–“the muck,
– the mire;
– stayin’ down
– for something higher.”
• --excerpt from my poem, “I’ll Never Die”

–I looked up and found myself blessed with a new pen-friend. No, she was more than that
from the beginning. I looked up and saw somebody fighting with me, for my life. I didn’t
have to create a false image of myself; I didn’t have to package my case and sell it to her;
I didn’t have to manipulate her with sweet talk, threats of suicide, or argue with her. She
just appeared right beside me, swinging her precious fist as hard as she could. I bowed to
the Universe, giving thanks for this, this beauty. This beauty was and is Sandie.
However, while oblivious to the fact that my struggle was manifesting a hope, a grace, I
had slowly given up on, I sought refuge in the only place left to turn, my self.
–One thing I learned from my 2007 Hunger Strike, when you are not being nourished, and
you begin to starve, your body eats on itself; it finds sustenance within: “I’m imploding
into spiritual existence.” I had heard it was possible. So I mustered up the courage to ask
God for it. Yeah, it took courage. You know how God has a way of answering prayers
sometimes in a way that will make you not want to ever ask for anything again! But there
I was, eyes closed, staring into the Universe, and I asked it…

•“O’ Divine Universe, sacred womb from which the stars are norn, allow me to feel and live in the love of
my own being.”
–From Karl Marx to Friedrich Nietzsche, religion or spirituality was viewed as something
of a reactionary impulse, a flinch, a backward stumble, away from the pains of this world.
I guess, to some extent, they are right. Be that as it may, I didn’t need anybody elses love;
I needed my own. But God has jokes.
–About a week later, I received a letter from a woman wanting to establish a friendship
with me. And though I thought I was going within to seek my own love, I ended up
falling… in love with this woman. And this woman was married. The relationship was
difficult, painful. But pain is the shell that encases understanding. She struggled to see
the necessity to fight with me for my life. The very thing I had always said would let me
know whether I needed that person in my life or not. But I couldn’t let go of this love.
And though both of our insecurities surfaced, one of hers led to accusations I was only
loving her to use her; the very thing I had despised and refused to do. On top of it all, she
was married, which means she had sex with her husband. I became so connected to this
woman that I could feel when she was having sex.

»“What Man
»merges into your being,
»feeling everything you feel
»even if its another man
»touching you,
»kissing you,
»making love to you;
»calling you Queen,
»will worship you still?
»What Man?”
• --excerpt from my poem, “What Man?”

–There I was faced with my contradictions. I had always desired to be loved, and she
loved me, but I had also felt I could never be seen as a whole man because of these bars,
this concrete; that I could never receive that loyalty as a woman has sexual needs.
Husband or not, those were my thighs that spread open for another man. The fire! It all
burned. I let go. And while I was letting go of this relationship, Sandie was letting go of
hers for equally painful reasons.
–In Asia they have a monkey trap that is made out of something like a hollowed out
coconut connected to a stake rising a few feet out the ground. A hole big enough for your
hand to go through is cut in the top of the coconut. Inside is placed sweet stuff. The
monkey, hopping along, smells the sweet stuff, but can’t get its fist out as long as it’s full
of those sweets. Yet the monkey is not smart enough to let go of the sweets. So hopping
up and down, the monkey-hunter walks over and hits it across its little head, killing it.
–The moral is sometimes you have to know when to let go. But this is hard, especially
when love is involved. Sometimes you’re not strong enough and have to get his over the
head before learning, “I need to let go of this.” And I had some things to let go of. The
Universe had placed me in that relationship so I could break through all those inner-
barriers hindering me from not only feeling the love of my own being, utterly, but from
learning to love unconditionally; without all the strings attached. To learn to allow love to
flow freely, giving my self to wherever it shall carry me. But I couldn’t fully appreciate
what had happened to me, that I was now capable of love; that I was love.
–I was still rebelling. I was giving up the whole idea of relationships, at least as long as I
was incarcerated. It wasn’t my lot to be seen as the man I had become. A man that still
had some learning to do.

–Slow Down
»The more I sought you
»the further I pushed you away.
»I wanted you,
»and focused all my attention on getting you—
»though I already had you.
»I kept searching and searching,
»but got lost in the dust
»I kicked up with my own feet.
»You stood silently and patiently
»waiting on the impatient.
»I became frustrated, furious, and
»on the brink of an emotional breakdown.
»I stopped…


» And finally, when all the dust cleared…
» there you were

– right here

» all along.


–When the dust settled, when the dust I kicked up with my own rebellion, my own
dissatisfaction, my own understanding, settled, everything I yearned for; everything I
sought; everything I was giving up on; hell, EVERYTHING, was already in my life. I
opened my eyes and saw the same glory I saw that day I looked up and found that
beautiful woman by my side, fighting for my life. After all this time Queen, all this time,
friendship blossoming into a closeness only a brother and sister knows, it has now
blossomed into a Universal rose of infinite folds, still unfolding; unfolding beyond love,
my beautiful, precious baby. We’re not even in love anymore. What we have is GOD.
–This beautiful woman, Sandie, Queen of my soul has shone me, has shown me,
something so real; a loyalty I’ve only been given by my mama! This precious being
fought for me when nobody would, and withstood criticism for doing it, fighting for me
still. A soldier, who takes initiative. A motivator, who has wrapped her loving arms
around my weak being, pulling me to her soft bosom, lifting me out of the bowels of some
of my darkest depressions; lifting me out of this concrete tomb and placing me up on a
throne she has erected for me. This love manifested flesh, after all she has been through in
her life, the abuses, still overflows with sweet love she drowns me in. And I die over and
over and over again. As I know she would in place of my life. I tried to run from the
light, saying “What if the state takes my life?” Then through her sweet, sacred lips GOD
said “At least you would have known what real love is, from a real woman; and I, from a
real man.” What manner of woman is this?!! My Gemini twin, who willingly gets tipsy
off my inner-tears, then tells me jokes to make me laugh. A divine woman that angers
herself because she feels she can’t make me happier than the happiest I’ve ever been in
my life, thanks to her? Yet these words are mere shadows cast by this fire burning in the
cave of my being.
–GOD has accounted me as one of the chosen to experience Heaven, not only on earth;
not only in a jail cell; but on Death Row. Powerful! I’m shaken to my core, and bow
before the Universe in awe. I remained true to my principles, as a man of probity, and was
crowned with you. And I will die willingly before desecrating the sacred halls of your
soul where you have placed my throne. In return, my beautiful Sandie, my baby, my
Queen, I take my soul and place it upon your precious head. As long as you’ll wear that
crown, my gorgeous woman, I’m yours, like “forever before”.
–I’m not finished, I have so much more…

–To Be Continued

–(Note: Only those with tender hearts will appreciate these pearls from my soul. Please
share in the joy of this sacred love Sandie and I found. We hope all of you will find what
we have found.)
©2008 by S. Stafford & Reginald Blanton. All text, pictures and graphics are copyrighted. Text, Picture, and graphics, unless
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