Two Songs From Behind Bars

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I like to make up my own prayers, songs and mantras these days, but I still use a few key standards from the Christian tradition as well.

Seven years earlier to write a song like that would have never occurred to me. At that time I was in a lock down cell in Key West with a drug addict cell mate and only one hour out of cell for every 23 inside.

Friendly Jesus I am feeling low

and I am wanting to lose control to you

Loving Jesus I know not what to do

but I am desiring sweet reunion with you

Gentle Jesus I have been wandering for so long

How could I ever have imagined you were gone

Peaceful Jesus I am so ashamed of what I have and have not done

But in your forgiveness life sweet blessings have re-begun.

I wrote that song sitting on  a bench in front of Target in Mansfield Texas a few months before coming off of the streets. I am teaching myself to sing and sing this most every day; it really has a calming affect on my emotions. But at that time I just imitated the voices of song writers I admired; so imagine me composing this using a sort of Lou Reed talk/sing.


I got shipped to Key West after I refused to change into jail clothes where I was originally arrested in Islamorada.

I felt my arrest was illegal, the policeman  got mad because I would not show him my ID. I did not think he had any probable cause.

I was living in my car at the time and my spare tire had just gone flat. I was waiting in front of the tire store in Islamorada with the tire for them to open in the morning.

My anxiety was through the roof, any way and the police showing up just added to it. The officer  did not believe my story even though I told him exactly where my car was. I got arrested for loitering and prowling.

In hind site my anxiety I imagine made me look pretty agitated to the point of being aggressive. I liked to argue in those days and believe it or not it is not a great tactic when dealing with the police.

Those folks running the Islamorada jail actually started to undress me after an hour or so of me asking for a lawyer and refusing to change. I was very passive, but still resisting.

Once I saw they were going to actually take my pants off; I said I would change clothes. They replied it was too late.  With my molestation wound still haunting me at that point, I did not want those boys that close to my willy; so I sat down.  I think the guy in charge was waiting for that. He proceeded to spray me in the face with mace, which I thought was way overboard, considering I was not violent or aggressive in any way.

I later asked to see regulations for police use of mace which seemed to concern the jailers a little bit, but my anxiety at that point was way to high for any kind of follow through.

As you can see things were not going too well. I had been in several jails by the end of my street journey and what I can  tell you is that jail does little if anything to curtail criminal behavior.

A lot of guys in jail are on medication for various anxiety disorders and depression. Many of them don’t swallow the pills and later sell or trade them to another inmate looking for a fix, which turned out to be my cell mate much of the time. He had a large jail bank account and could buy a lot of coveted items like Honey Buns, a very sweet pastry that was treated like gold by inmates.

Well he eventually got a single cell by complaining about my smell which consisted of mace and fat man sweat. I showered every day but mace has a unique smell and works into the pours.

Being in that confined cell was also setting off quite a few panic attacks and the nurses were keeping a close watch on my blood pressure because of the mace. Long story short, I was miserable.

But for some reason I picked up the Bible and memorized the 23 psalm.

untitledI had always thought it was beautiful and heard it had healing properties. When I got out about ten days later, my car had been towed and I had no money to get it out, my street journey had officially begun.

For the next seven years I often recited it when it came to mind, it helped calm me down some.

Ironically I use it even more  now, 10 t0 15 times a day, (see what a wonderful Christian I am) reflecting on each line as I say it. I honestly believe it provides for both emotional and physical healing.

After seven years of little hygiene my teeth only had a couple of cavities. I had type 2 diabetes for a while on the streets because of huge sugar intake. That is a self diagnosis by the way, based on the fact I could not feel my feet very much and colors were losing their brightness. However, by the time I was off the streets the doctor said my sugar levels were healthy, in fact, all my systems were in proper working order.

The Lord is my Shepard

I shall not want.

He make me lie down in green pastures,

he lead my beside the cool waters. He restores my soul.

He lead me in the path of righteousness for his name sake.

Yea though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

For thou art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies

thou anoint my head with oil.

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


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