They turned your story into a crime.
Tortured you for daring to exist.
Must have hurt those fuckers
to know so many people listen.
Flowers can grow in concrete –
can we grow in cells?
The easiest thing in the world
is to feel you’ve lost touch,
and it hurts so much.
— from “Feeling Forgotten Feels Worse Than Dying”
Once, on a tour of Alcatraz, I sat on Al Capone’s bed. It was fascinating, but it wasn’t real. It’s drowned in fable and plot lines, and I have never been inside a real one. Never been in handcuffs. Never been hit. Never been arrested – especially not because I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, look the wrong way, and happen to have a record. But Eric King has been, and Pacing in My Cell (Radical Paper Press), sure provides insight into the actual experience.
What do you do when you have a sentence where the same 10 years acts as the minimum and maximum? When there is no light? A spoonful of food? Pepper sprayed and left without water for weeks? You pace in your cell.
I cannot place myself in King’s position, but the calculated bluntness with which this is written puts you there whether you like it or not. This chap leaves you angry because it should. Because “people die every day / still wrapped in society’s chains”.
Quoted from Pacing in My Cell:
Eric King, a vegan anarchist, was arrested and charged with an attempted firebombing of a government official’s office in Kansas City, Missouri in September 2014 in the wake of the Ferguson Uprising. Eric was charged with throwing a hammer through a window of the building, followed by two lit Molotov cocktails. The criminal complaint states both incendiary devices failed to ignite. Eric was identified as a suspect by local police because he had previously come under suspicion for anti-government and anti-police graffiti.
On March 3, 2016, he accepted a non-cooperating plea agreement to one count of using “explosive materials to commit arson of property used in or affecting interstate commerce.” On June 28, 2016, he was sentenced to ten years, the statutory minimum and maximum for the charge he plead guilty to. Eric has been detained at CCA Leavenworth (Kansas), FCI Florence (Colorado), and back again. His release date is June 2, 2023.