The guards and walls are the same

May 18, 2009

Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death in Texas in 1997 for the “crime” of driving a car that Mauriceo Brown exited to shoot and kill Michael LaHood Jr. Despite the fact that Kenneth had no knowledge of the crime that was going to be committed, he was convicted under the Texas Law of Parties, which allows prosecutors to treat those physically present at the scene of a murder as if they had pulled the trigger.

But just hours before his scheduled execution on August 30, 2007--and after an intense campaign by anti-death penalty activists--Kenneth was saved from execution when Gov. Rick Perry granted clemency--Perry's first such commutation in his years as the Texecutioner.

Here, Kenneth shares one of his poems.

Gaza Talks

as i walk through the checkpoints--
"PASS!" fires at me.
i grimace, flashing the papers that allow me
to get to my destination.
i never make eye contact,
only press my paper to the face of the gates.
we're all in uniforms.
weapons surround us as we weave through traffic/
long lines of lost souls
trekking through the fog of
broken lives,
broken hearts and
hard life sentences.
a few rebels are sprinkled in the mix.
lethargy surrounds me.
i've been able to blend in,
only slightly detectable
when my face goes stone at the sounds of

i'm shuffled back into a place that
at least 90% of my surroundings don't know exist,
even though the guards...are the same,
...the walls...are the same,
...the mentalities...are the same and...
the slow-motion genocide is the EXACT same!

the beast continues to chomp away at the
people whom are less fortunate.
i'm part of the few that have
merged with the feelings of rage of the oppressed!
Suheir Hammad's poetry has become a
Bible Study in my daily walk.
i pass the check points/gates/cages
and almost fail to realize
This is McConnell Unit
(and not Palestine)
which is like Polunsky
which is like Telford
which is like Michaels--
the very first prototype
of a new oppression:
solitude prisons!
boxes within boxes within boxes.
we have apartheid here too!
we smuggle taste of freedom under our clothes too!
we hustle for extra food too!
just trying to
reclaim those feelings of
humanity stripped from our fingertips.

my face contorts at orders and
those that accept them with no rejection.
at least give me some disdain.
our annihilation has become a sugar-coated bomb.
in our gluttony and ignorance
we greedily gobble down the
high cholesterol laws and policies
that are slowly
creeping through our valves
getting ready to

there has been no true cease fire.
just as Israel has increased the
number of settlers in the west bank
from 190,000 to more than half a million
Texas has built over 120 prisons
over a span of 20 years.
137 prisons total.
political minded prisoners should be sprouting abundantly!
Texas and Gaza are fraternal twins separated at birth--
Both spawning concentration camp like conditions.
amerika can't swallow the Intifada breathing down their door.

we must tap into the wind of
international consciousness
which brings our pain to ONE inhale
and our actions into ONE exhale.

i've overridden my prison #'s with
Arabic tattooed on my neck--
my body
(chest to back)
is now a billboard for revolutionary messages.

our massacre is unfolding in slow motion
and not even death
should stop us
from trying to rewind this
fucked up story
which has become our

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