Preface . . .
Before I ever knew what a “man” was, I was found guilty of taking the life of one. Before my age could tolerate the reality of manhood I was made into one in the worse place that one could be made. Sixteen years old and sentenced to serve 15 years to life in the California Department of Corrections, gangs would become my ultimate death style. The classical portrait of a young black male, full of rage, marginalized and destined to implode, but that’s just one episode. GOD put a spirit in me obviously, worth saving. Deep within the bowels of the prison, I was sent three MENTORS who would become the necessary bridges I’d need in order to cross some pretty disturbing waters.
The first was my uncle Gary Williams, Sr. my parental mentor. He would visit me throughout my most defining years. We’d play chess or dominos while he’d question me as to what kind of “man” I wanted to be and that mold of questioning would shape the fight in me. I didn’t realize it then but he kept the future in front of me while I was focused only on the end.
The second was Dr. E.M. Abdulmumin, my spiritual mentor. He was the Muslim Chaplain that had the sight to see past my rebellious personality into something spiritual in me. He was good at getting me to think and challenging my moral perceptions. He was the wet stone that would sharpen me mentally. He taught me that there was a beautiful strength & power in the ability to do right.
The third was Mr. John Murphy, the English teacher at HGS Youth Training School. The man who taught me to use my voice and not my fist. He taught me that similar to martialarts, there was an art to this more delicate than the brush and sharper than the sword. So, he mentored me in the use of one of the greatest weapons anyone could possess. That’s POETRY and the power of the heart’s expression.
I would be confronted with all of what they’d given me while serving fourteen weeks in solitary confinement. I would use the weapon of poetry by writing them all over the prison cell walls as if they were some ancient runes used to not only ward off but heal the wounds buried deep within me. It would hold back and crack the walls around me; from that small sliver of light, I found ME.
I walked out of that hole a different man;
I walked out a mentor full of fire and a pounding heart.
I walked out of that dark space, a Poet.
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