Owen County Community Forum on Drug Addiction

Since Drug Addiction continues to be a problem in our community, I thought it would be good to re-post the Owen County Community Forum Topic: Drug Problem in Owen County, you can view excerpts of the presentation here:

We had a very impressive turnout from the community and the panel provided a lot of information. The committee is planning another forum in the future to expand on how the community can help tackle the problem.


Help Save Coal

Owen County Residents,
Do you want to keep energy fair, affordable, and achievable? We have a critical issue that needs your attention. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced misguided regulations of carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-based power plants. Unfortunately, the EPA proposal takes our nation’s energy and environmental policy in exactly the wrong direction. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency that you oppose a proposed rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new fossil power plants as currently written because it contradicts the Administration’s strategy to provide FAIR, AFFORDABLE, and ACHIEVABLE energy!  We ask that you tell the EPA that you oppose this proposed standard for power plants. www.ourenergy.coop
The EPA plan has effectively outlawed coal as a fuel source for the next generation of power plants — quite contrary to the bi- partisan goal of an “all of the above” energy policy. The proposed standards would require new coal plants to install a technology that is not yet commercially available called ‘carbon capture and storage.’ Because the technology is not yet available, this rule would eliminate coal as a fuel source and reduce America’s fuel diversity. Electric cooperatives support a comprehensive energy and environmental policy that embraces all fuels (nuclear, natural gas, renewable, and coal), maximizes energy efficiency, and emphasizes the development of technologies that continue to improve our environment.
Comments to the EPA are due by June 25 so this is a time sensitive issue. Please join the thousands of Americans like you who are concerned about how energy policy is decided — send your message of concern to EPA today by visiting www.ourenergy.coop.
Sincerely,
Shanna Osborne
and The Our Energy, Our Future campaign of America’s Electric Cooperatives
Our Energy, Our Future campaign (www.ourenergy.coop) is made possible through your local electric cooperative (Owen Electric) to keep power affordable, safe and reliable.

Thousand Kites is Sparking the Criminal Justice Dialogue

Starting 1998, as host of the rural, Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program “Lights Out,” Thousand Kites media artist Nick Szuberla received hundreds of letters from inmates recently transferred from distant cities into two new, local SuperMax prisons. The prisoners’ letters described racism and human rights violations, and Szuberla responded first by playing a game of chess with the prisoners over the air and through the mail (he lost), and then with artistic projects, including bringing hip-hop artists together with mountain musicians and organizing radio broadcasts for prisoners’families. Involving dozens of artists, volunteers, and friends the project continues to expand from the initial chess game.

In prison slang to “shoot a kite” is to send a message. Thousand Kites is a national project that works directly with stakeholders using communication strategies and campaigns to engage citizens and build grassroots power. It uses performance, web, video, and radio to open a public space for incarcerated people, corrections officials, the formerly incarcerated, grassroots activists, and ordinary citizens to dialogue and organize around United State’s criminal justice system.

Thousand Kites believes:

* The criminal justice system is the most pressing civil rights issue in the United States;
* Breaking down the silence surrounding the U.S. criminal justice system through storytelling and listening helps people find effective solutions to over-incarceration in their communities;
* Because policy follows public perception, insuring that there is ample opportunity for free and open dialogue demands that all communities work together for media justice.

The Thousand Kites play is a collection of stories told directly by prisoners, their family members, corrections officers and community members.

You can read the play as part of a spoken-word event with a group of your friends, in a community center, or even as a full production in a theater.

The play is written so that you can add your own story to it to connect with your local community. You can bring in local musicians or hip-hop artists to give it your own rhythm. You don’t need theater experience to read or perform the Thousand Kites play. All you need is a group of people and a desire to hear and share stories.

The second act of the play is a dialogue. Use this opportunity to open up a conversation in your community about the criminal justice system.

thousandkitesmediaUnlike a lot of ‘activist theater,’ the Thousand Kites play doesn’t seek to preach a message forcibly, or motivate the audience through anger and outrage; it encourages the whole community to reach out and reach in, to uplift and assist, and to move change with compassion. student, University of North Carolina-Asheville

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THOUSAND KITES

(The Play)

written by

Donna Porterfield

script contributors

Prisoners, Corrections Officers, and their respective families,

and people living in communities where prisons are sited

original music by

Ron Short,CarltonTurner, and Maurice Turner

dramaturge

Dudley Cocke

 

This playwas developed as one part of the Holler to the Hood–Roadside Theater collaboration, Thousand Kites (www.thousandkites.org), a project of Appalshop, Inc.,91 Madison Ave., Whitesburg, KY 41858;  606.633.0108.

© Holler to the Hood/Roadside Theater 2007

PLACE AND TIME – here and now

CAST

Guard – adult male                 Prisoner – adult male

Chorus 1 – adult female          Chorus 2 – adult male

Chorus 3 – adult female          Chorus 4 – adult male, familiar with spoken word

Chorus 5 – preferably female, under age 30, familiar with spoken word

Schedule – adult female with authoritative voice

DJ – plays recorded music, may sing and play a musical instrument

 
STAGE SETTING
Stage right – Guard’s platform, or, when visible from the audience, a rectangular area delineated
                      by tape on the floor
Stage left –  Prisoner’s platform, or, when visible from the audience, a rectangular area
                    delineated by tape on the floor

Center stage – Chorus area

Upstage left – DJ music station

Offstage – Microphone/PA system, with loud buzzer, through which Schedule makes

announcements; when offstage microphone/PA system is not available, see Schedule

note below

 

STAGING NOTES

Guard and Prisoner place themselves on their respective platforms (or in their respective taped boxes), which theydo not leave.  Theydo not acknowledge each other or the Chorus, and speak directly to the audience.

Chorus is free to move about the stage, but cannot enter the Guard’s or Prisoner’s space.  They speak directly to each other and to the audience and indirectly to Prisoner and Guard.

Schedule, if visible to audience, is placed at a distance from cast and never acknowledges audience or cast.

 

OTHER NOTES

Buzzer – Should be timed to interrupt the play’s action with each interruption lasting for two

seconds.

Music Options – Provided in the Toolkit for PlayReadings:

  • an audio recording of the play’s pre-show music.
  • an audio recording of the play’s songs and raps, performed by Kites performers, and song sheets of the full versions of these songs and raps.
    • If the play’s cast includes singers and rappers, this recording can be used to teach them the full songs and raps, which are abbreviated in the script.  If the DJ is a musician and/or singer, she/he may join in the musical performances. All songs and raps may be re-arranged to fit the particular production.
    • If the play’s cast does not include singers and rappers, the cast should read the abbreviated versions of the songs and raps as printed in the script.
    • With the exception of pre-show music, playing recorded versions of the songs and raps as a substitution for reading or performing them is not recommended, as this will interrupt the flow of the play.

ACT I

 

Pre-show music: DJ plays the pre-recorded songs Thousand Kites and then Running ‘Round in Circles.  If DJ is a musician, his/her live playing can end the pre-show segment.

 

(buzzer interrupts music)

 

SCHEDULE

I am Prison Schedule.

I regulate prison life.

 

 (Without acknowledging each other, Guard & Prisoner rise from opposite sides of auditorium, walk to stage, cross, and take their separate positions, facing audience.)

 

GUARD

I am Guard.  Not one guard, but many.  I have one mouth, but speak with many voices.  I have two ears, and I have heard many stories.

 

PRISONER

I am Prisoner.  Not one prisoner, but many.  I have one mouth, but speak with many voices.  I have two ears, and I have heard many stories.

 

GUARD

I am tall, short, all shades of color . . .

 

PRISONER

male, female, vicious, (pause) kind . . .

 

GUARD & PRISONER (simultaneously)

don’t give a damn.

 

PRISONER

I do time.

 

GUARD

I do time in eight hour shifts.

 

PRISONER

I do time all the time.

 

(Chorus members rise and stand by their seats in the auditorium as they speak.)

CHORUS – 1

I am the public.

 

CHORUS – 2

I am the public.

CHORUS – 3

I am the public.

 

CHORUS – 4  (confrontationally)

I am the public.

 

CHORUS – 5 (intervening)

I am the public.

 

(Chorus 5 proceeds to the stage, then each Chorus member follows as they deliver their lines.)

 

CHORUS – 1

We are mothers.

 

CHORUS – 2

Fathers.

 

CHORUS – 3

Sisters.

 

CHORUS – 4

Brothers.

 

CHORUS – 5

We are the people who live in communities where 50 new prisons have been built every single year for the past 20 years.

 

CHORUS – 2

You gotta be kidding!  You’re telling me that in theUnited States of America 50 new prisons have been built every year for the past 20 years?  Who would believe that?!

 

CHORUS – 3

It’s a fact!

 

CHORUS – 1

We are the victims of crimes.

 

CHORUS – 2

We are the families of guards.

 

CHORUS – 4

We are the families of prisoners.

 

CHORUS – 3

That’s right.

 

CHORUS – 2

Not us.

 

CHORUS – 1

We’re good Christians –  we don’t break the law.

 

CHORUS – 2

Nobody in my family ever gone to jail!

 

CHORUS – 3

Hey, wait a minute!  My son is in prison, and he’s a good man.  Not everybody in prison is bad.

 

CHORUS – 2

Not everybody in prison is good!  You do the crime, you do the time.

 

CHORUS – 4

Yeah, I used to think that way, until my child landed in jail for a little bit of nothing, and all his friends went free as birds!

 

CHORUS – 5

Point:  We live in theUnited States of Americawhere one out of every 100 of us has done  . . .

 

CHORUS – ALL

time.

 

(buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

Schedule

Maximum Security

State

2:00am

Pick-Up Mail From Buildings

 

CHORUS – 1 (as mother, moving toward Guard)

I can’t say my son was a perfect child, but he grew up to be a good man.

 

CHORUS – 2 (as father, moving toward Guard)

He was the first one in our family to ever go to college.  Said he didn’t want to spend his life working in the coal mines and end up broken-down like his daddy done.

 

CHORUS – 1

No sir, he wanted a state job.

 

CHORUS – 2

He wanted benefits.

CHORUS – 1

He wanted to be a park ranger!

 

CHORUS – 2

Well, it turned out there weren’t any forest ranger jobs to be had . . .

 

CHORUS – 1

so somebody said, “Why don’t you come to work at the new prison.  It’s a government job.”

 

CHORUS – 2

So he went clear to the other end of the state

 

CHORUS – 1

and took the prison training.

 

GUARD

I started out at one of the older maximum security state prisons.  We  had no weapons – just keys.  If the keys were taken from you, everything could be lost.

 

My first day on the job, I was assigned to let the inmates on the second tier pass through the gate to go eat.  The Lead Officer was stationed a floor above me.  He was supposed to flip open two cells at a time.  Then I was supposed to unlock the tier gate, let the two prisoners pass through, lock the gate back, and wait for him to unlock the next two cells.

 

I took my place by the gate as I was instructed, but the Lead Officer flipped the master switch and let all of them, all 88 of them, out of their cells at once.  I threw my keys under the locked tier gate as I’d been trained to do.  I was now responsible for getting every single one of the 88 back into their cells.  Remember, I had no weapon.  There are no words to describe the way I felt.  I had never been locked in with 88 men who would just as soon see me dead.  But I maintained my post by the gate, and somehow, I don’t know how, got them all back in their cells.

 

When it was all over, I stormed up to the Lead Officer’s post and grabbed hold of the rail in front of him to keep from strangling him.  I fully intended to kill the son-of-a-bitch.  He just laughed, said,  “Looks like you didn’t wet yourself, or cry like a baby.  You might make it here.”

 

(buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

3:35am

Prisoner Kitchen Workers In-Place           

PRISONER

“If you cause any kind of trouble, I’ll shoot you.”  That was my welcome to the super-max from the Corrections Officer as I got off the bus.  Then he yanked my eyeglasses from my face, said,  “These are dangerous contraband.”

 

I was shackled at the ankles.  My hands were cuffed in front of me and chained to my waist with a belly chain.  The C.O., who was wielding a shotgun, yells, “This ain’t church, this ain’t school, and it ain’t a place to rehabilitate yourself.  It’s prison.”

 

I knelt on the floor and a slot in the door, about three feet from the ground, opened.  I was ordered to stick my hands through it, and the cuffs were removed.  “Now strip,” a voice barked.  What he said next and what I had to do was so vile I’ll not repeat it.  I will tell you what I was thinking: It won’t be fun when the rabbit gets the gun.  No sir, it won’t.

 

CHORUS – 3 (as mother of prisoner)

When my son was incarcerated, he was in college, and I wanted to keep him going.  My whole attitude was, though he is in prison, prison does not have to be in him.

 

CHORUS – 4 (as father of prisoner)

But when he first went to prison, he refused to see us.

 

CHORUS – 3

He felt his life was over.

 

CHORUS – 4

That first year, I didn’t think he’d make it . . . I thought he’d kill himself.

 

CHORUS – 3

We are a close, religious family, and we refused – absolutely refused – to give-up.  We kept coming to visit him – his brothers and aunts and uncles – everybody.

 

CHORUS 5

A voice for the voiceless

I represent the ones that yearn to be heard

So every word is a testimony

This one is for my homie

Locked up and wondering

How can we fix this system

That got so many locked in prison

Brothers and fathers missin’

Wifies and mothers kissin’

Pictures of prodigal sons

Praying for their return

Learning to live without ‘em

Never forget about ‘em

But it’s hard when he’s nineteen years old

No chance for parole

 

CHORUS – 4

Nothing to lose so it’s just another night in the hole

The only way to console the fears of dying here

Is to pray and put pen to paper

Show that he’s trying here

To make the most of the worst

Break the curse of this nation

Hooked on incarceration

21st century plantations

I fly a thousand kites for my homies

With the hope that this message and these blessings reach all my homies

 

CHORUS – 5

And it’s sad that us community fail to see

That we accept the policy

That proves democracy to be hypocrisy

Building cages for babies

Why try to teach them or reach them before mistakes can be made

There’s way too much money to be made

We all just getting played

While the rich keep getting paid

It’s time we examine the reason these laws have been made

 

CHORUS – 4

I fly a thousand kites for my homies

With the hope that this message and these blessings reach all my homies

 

CHORUS – 5

I fly a thousand kites for my homies

With the hope that this message and these blessings reach . . .

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

5:00am

Insulin

Finger Sticks and Shots

CHORUS – 2

I raised my kids in a place out in the country, and crime just never played a role in our life.  I mean it really didn’t.  I would leave my keys in the front door so I’d  know where they were!

CHORUS – 3

Crime?  In the city, it’s hard to tell who’s the worst – the gangs or the police.  Every day, I feel like my babies are being hunted like animals.

 

CHORUS – 1

My baby sister, who I raised, is on the needle.  Yesterday I had to go to court with her.  Right when we were ready to go up before the judge, she grabs hold of my arm, whispers, “Don’t worry, I’m Wonder Woman.”  Uh huh, actually said she was Wonder Woman – that nothing could harm her.

 

CHORUS – 2

Then she whispers in my ear, “I just bought two new tires for my Chevy Cavalier.  You know, to out-run the police!  Don’t tell.”

CHORUS – 1

Well, I’ve known the judge most all of my life, and I was talking to him, and I’m like “What are we going to do about this situation here?  She’s crazy! We need to go ahead and get her incarcerated.  She can’t stop using.

 

CHORUS – 2

She won’t.”

CHORUS – 1

And he’s like, “It’s just the system.  Can’t rush it up.  She comes from a good home . . . blah, blah, blah.”

 

CHORUS – 4

Here recently – in the space of a year – I went to two funerals for kids in their twenties.  One was a kid who hanged himself in jail, and the other was a drug overdose.  And I happened to mention this to a young girl that I know.  I said, “When I was your age, I didn’t know anybody my age who had died.”  And she said,

 

CHORUS – 5

“I couldn’t tell you the number of my friends who are either dead or in jail.”

 

CHORUS – 3

Dead or in jail.

 

CHORUS – 1

One’s dead.

 

PRISONER

I wanna be a criminal when I grow up

‘cause criminals live good and have all the luck.

I can’t have a bike ‘cause my mom’s too poor

and my dad’s been gone since I was 3 or 4.

And what’s all the fuss about going to school

when getting A’s and B’s don’t seem too cool?

I’m not feelin’ school ‘cause I need to get money,

plus I know ‘bout the streets so I ain’t no dummy.

I  already been to jail and it wasn’t too bad

and after the first few days, Mom wasn’t that mad.

I’ve seen a helluva lot to just be in my teens

so I’m really a man with criminal dreams.

 

I know the drug game will really pay off

but I gotta get a gun to prove I’m not soft.

Look at all this cash and I don’t have a job

And when things get slow I got the gun to rob.

I’m a gangsta now so I will pull the trigger

besides, who cares about another dead figger?

I don’t know anything about this legal stuff

and I hate wearing these tight-assed cuffs.

I better take “the plea” ‘cause I can’t beat the case.

They had too many people identify my face.

Everyone that I call has a block on their phone,

but how can that be when I was so well known?

I got a fat old judge and they say he’s mean

and I never saw this in my criminal dreams.

 

I’m in prison now and it’s not what I thought

If  I wasn’t getting high, I would’ve never got caught.

I gotta hurt the first one who steps out of line

but if I hurt him too bad, I’m gonna run up my time.

The word seems to be “don’t go to the hole”

My life sure changed since that first day I stole.

Last year a man got shot for fighting

but it’s not really news ‘cause nobody’s writing.

If I stay up late, I can hear the screams

but I never heard them in my criminal dreams.

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

5:30am

Pill Call 

General Population in vestibule;  Segregation in Pod

CHORUS – 4

When they took my son to the jail, he was in a wheelchair because he had just had both of his knees replaced.  He was put in a real little room where there were no beds nor nothin’.  He spent four weeks on the floor.  I done ok at the jail, but once I got back to the house and realized that I probably wouldn’t live to see him come home . . .

 

CHORUS – 1

They took my baby sister, who was on the needle, from the courtroom up to the jail.  Then I tried to find out things, but I could not find out anything.  So I went on home.  And she called, said there were eight people in her cell, with no bed – no pillow.  As a child, she always slept with three pillows.  So we got back in the car and went to Wal Mart and bought her a pillow.  I took it out to the jail, but the officer at the desk said,

 

CHORUS – 2

“No, we do not allow that.”

 

CHORUS – 1

Just one pillow?

 

CHORUS – 2

She never hurt nobody.

 

(buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

6:00am

Breakfast 

Segregation Food Cart Delivered

General Population According To Feeding Schedule

 

CHORUS – 4

Prison food – my son says you’ll end up with the weirdest stuff being served to you.  Not food, so much, but like condiments.  You’ll get O’Charley’s ketchup – McDonalds napkins.  Companies are using it as tax write-offs.

 

CHORUS – 5

I used to eat with the same guys.  One of them was originally from Cambodia.  We closely inspected our food for hair, bugs, and mud.  The Cambodian guy always gave me his milk.  I’d tell him,  “Why don’t you drink it – at least it’s something they can’t mess with.”  He says, “How in the world can you drink that stuff?  They treat us like animals and then feed us pet food.”  I said, “What are you talking about, pet food?”  He says, “Look at the carton of milk, man.  Right there it says,  “Pet Milk.”

 

PRISONER

You want to know what my day is like?

Well it starts at five-thirty with that bright ass light.

Next comes breakfast at six-thirty

The coffee’s cold and the tray is dirty.

 

First call for showers and rec,

C.O. already checking my set.

I break sweat.

Nothing new to them shaking my cell down.

Happens all the time.

Still messes with my mind.

 

CHORUS – 5

Go out the yard for a break and come back,

Now it’s time to hit the sack.

Wake up an hour later

to some cold cuts for lunch.

I think it’s turkey bologna,

But that’s just a hunch.

 

PRISONER

Then I get my read on with the tv on,

Gotta see my soaps.

Damn!  Victor done fired Phyllis

for sleepin’ with Nick.

Sharon’s pissed,

but is anyone left that she’s not kissed?

 

Then it’s read, sleep, eat, stand,

Inappropriate behavior with my hand.

Hey, it happens,

No need for the snappin’!

 

CHORUS – 5

Six-thirty mail call.

Everyone stands,

Many knowin’ it’s just a mirage.

 

PRISONER

At 11 I catch the news, Jay Leno,

a little Jimmy Kimmell Live.

Yeah, no lie, I stay up late

but only for Blind Date.

 

 

CHORUS – 5

So that’s a day in the life of a convicted felon.

 

PRISONER

I’ve been doing time eleven years for not tellin’.

 

Enough talk, I got to get some rest.

I’ll wake up tomorrow same place, same stress.

 

CHORUS – 5

Day in, day out, same plight,

 

PRISONER

Same bright ass light.

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

8:30am

Prisoner Count

Standing

 

GUARD

If you step across the red painted line without permission, it will be considered an act of aggression and will result in the use of firepower.

 

PRISONER

All of this was new to me, but you can bet I caught on fast.  I guess you could say that prison is a poor man’s college – the school of life.  You learn about surviving, because at any given time you can be killed.

 

GUARD

If you approach any person too fast, it will be considered an act of aggression and will result in the use of firepower.

 

PRISONER

The officers don’t give a damn what happens to you.  They’re here for eight hours.  If an inmate was to be killed in that eight hours, they still get their pay check and go home to their families.

 

GUARD

A lot of the inmates, when they come in here, they come from the cities up north.  Most of the corrections officers are white and most of the inmates are black.  It bothers the prisoners, you know.  They say,  “You’re a white person.  You’re guarding me, and you know it’s not right because I’m black.”  They think we’re KKK, or something like that.

 

 

PRISONER

The first time I let a fellow inmate borrow five dollars, he didn’t pay me back.  So I went to an Old Head and told him about it.  He asked me, did I want to lose the respect I had?  So I went to this dude, who had my five dollars, and beat the crap out of him.  I did it in front of everybody ‘cause I wanted everyone to see I was for real.  I was put in the hole for ten days.  When I got out of the hole, I was told that the dude that owed me the five dollars had been turn’ into a punk.  Sure enough at chow time, the new owner of this punk comes up to me and pays me back the five dollars.  So that was the end of another lesson learned.

 

GUARD

Who’s weak and who ain’t matters in prison.

 

PRISONER

That’s what it’s all about.

 

 ( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

9:00am

Outside Recreation General Population

Rotate Building Commissary

 

CHORUS – 3

When they incarcerate your child, they incarcerate the whole family.  Before that happened to me, I never voted.  My family never voted.  We just stayed home, minded our own business.  Now I’ve wound up at the state capitol talking to the senators and delegates, and really, I see they’re no better than we are.  They’re climbing a political ladder, trying to look good to the public out here, but they’re not concentrating on what’s important.

 

CHORUS – 4

The prison only gives my son two rolls of toilet paper and a cake of soap a month!  Everything else he has to buy at the prison canteen.  We have to send him $100 a week, because they charge such ridiculous prices.

 

CHORUS – 3

To talk to a loved one in prison, you might as well take out a bank loan.  The prison charges us $2.50 to hook up each call, and 20 cents a minute.

 

CHORUS – 4

Good Lord, do they think we’re millionaires?!

(Lively, upbeat)

CHORUS – 3

Rogues in the White House,

Thieves in the hall,

They all join hands,

At the Scoundrel’s Ball.

 

CHORUS – 4

They dance around,

Day after day,

When it’s time to pay the fiddler,

Guess who pays?

 

CHORUS – 1

Found a big meth lab,

In the house next door.

And Wal Mart built,

A Sup-er-Store.

 

CHORUS – 2

Gonna build another “Super-Max”,

Prison they say,

Ever’things Super,

“Round here today.

 

CHORUS – 1,2,3,4

Rogues in the White House,

Thieves in the hall,

They all join hands,

At the Scoundrel’s Ball.

 

CHORUS – 5

They dance around,

Day after day,

When it’s time to pay the fiddler,

Guess who pays?

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

11:00am

Lunch 

Segregation Food Cart Delivered

Meals Fed In Pods

 

 

 

GUARD

You’ll get two people with the same offense sentenced in entirely different ways, where one will get two years and one will get 18 years – no parole.

 

CHORUS – 2

It’s all according to what’s hot in the judge’s jurisdiction.

 

GUARD

If everybody’s worried about methamphetamine, then that’s who gets the big sentences – bigger than murderers sometimes.

 

When I first started working at the super-max, all the prisoners came here to the mountains from far away – most from the cities.  But that’s changing – mostly because there’s no funding in our community for substance abuse treatment.

 

CHORUS – 2

It’s not popular.

 

GUARD

So, they put ‘em in prison.

 

The other day, a new inmate gave me a strange look and called me by my full name.  Turned out he was a boy I went to school with over on Caney Ridge.  I never would have known him – he looked as old as my daddy . . .

 

GUARD

I don’t see no faces.

I don’t feel no pain.

Population, civilian

They’re all the same.

 

CHORUS – 1

Heard somebody call my name

 

GUARD

Black and white,

Rich and poor

Thief, murderer,

The boy next door.

 

CHORUS – 1 & 2

Heard somebody call my name

 

CHORUS – 5

Through all this grief, despair and pain,

I heard somebody call my name!

GUARD

Can’t talk to my father

Can’t talk to my wife

They’re living their lives

While I’m doing life.

 

CHORUS – ALL

Heard somebody call my name

 

GUARD

I keep having this dream,

And I awake with a shout.

I get to the gate and I can’t get out.

 

CHORUS – ALL

Heard somebody call my name

 

CHORUS – 5

Through all this grief, despair and pain,

I head somebody call my name!

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

1:30pm

Prisoner Count

Standing

 

PRISONER

I work in the library.  I’m one of the few who has a job.  Most of these guys have to stay in their cells all day with nothing to do.  Every time I’m escorted to the library, they do a strip search.  One of the guards obviously has issues.  While he’s conducting his search, he looks very closely at all the wrong places and sweats profusely.  Sometimes he’s eating popcorn . . .

 

CHORUS – 4

. . . like it’s dinner and a movie for him.

 

GUARD

Some prisoners you never hear a peep out of.  They’re no different from you or me.  And there are those who get in trouble most every day.  They end up in segregation.

 

PRISONER

When I was in the hole, the guy in the next cell threw his tray on the officer.  I thought to myself, this guy must be crazy!  Thirty minutes goes by, then all I could hear was this guy begging the officers not to beat him anymore.  I could hear him crying like a little girl.  You see, if you do something to one of these officers, they’re not going to fight you one on one.  They are going to come at you ten strong.

 

GUARD

Adrenalin takes over when there is a dangerous incident with an inmate.  But I must keep a cool head, a stone face, never raise my voice, stand my ground, never ever show fear.  Afterwards, when I’m filling out the incident report, my hands shake so bad I have to write it over three times.  But I never let anyone know this.  Nobody.  Not even my wife.

 

CHORUS – 1 (as mother of Guard)

Me and my husband and my son and daughter-in-law had always been church-going people.  We were faithful, going to church most every night of the week.  But it got to where my son didn’t really care that much about going to church.

 

Chorus – 2

When he came home from work, he spent most of his time on the telephone talking to the people he worked with at the prison.

 

CHORUS – 1

He pulled away from his wife, his children, from everything – just left us behind.

 

CHORUS – 2

That prison life became his whole life.

 

GUARD

My brother and me were working minimum wage jobs until we got on at the prison.  Not long after we started, I could see my brother wasn’t going to stick with it.  He’d say to me,

 

CHORUS – 2

“The prisoners hate us.”

 

GUARD

I’d tell him, “They have their own world, and we don’t enter into it.”  And he’d say,  “Don’t you see how these people live?  Young people, old people, different colors – and a lot of them in here for life?

 

CHORUS – 2

It’s a sad, hopeless place to work.”

 

GUARD

So he quit and started mowing grass with a push lawn mower and a weed eater out of the back of his car.

 

CHORUS – 1

Says he’s a whole lot poorer now, but a lot more satisfied.

 

GUARD

Me – I feel like I’m protecting my family and neighbors – society.  I don’t ever want to see any of my family the victim of a rape or murder or a child molester.  I do whatever it takes to walk away from a prisoner filled with pride and anger who is baiting me.  But when this doesn’t work and an attack ensues,  I’d rather be tried by 13 than carried by 6.

 

SCHEDULE

Visitation Dress Regulations

“Visitors may wear casual dress that is reasonable and appropriate.  The Department reserves the right to refuse admittance to inappropriately dressed visitors.  The body must be covered.  Hems, slits, or splits of dresses, skirts, shorts, etc. may not exceed four inches above mid-knee.  Underwear is required.  No halter tops, tank tops, or tube tops.  No pocketbooks, handbags, or wallets are allowed in the visiting room.  Males dressed as females will not be admitted.”

 

GUARD

Families – and mamas in particular – they see their kids like they were when they were little.  The mamas don’t see the things their sons do in here.  During visitation, some families come up and rake me over the coals for being mean to their little boys.  And then there are others who tell me to beat the crap out of their kid because last week he talked bad to them on the phone!  I’m serious!

 

CHORUS – 3

When we go to see my son, we leave home after I get off work and drive all night.  My husband and daughter-in-law, and her two babies, go with us.  We get to the prison about 6 the next morning.  They don’t open up until 8:30, so we sit and wait.

 

CHORUS – 4

If we find out they’re in lock-down and there’s no visitation that day, we just have to turn around and drive all day to get back home.

 

CHORUS – 3

The first time we went to see our son, we hadn’t seen him in five years because it was so far to come, and we had no way to get there.  When I finally saw him, I was like, “What’s the shackles all about?”

 

CHORUS – 5

Negativity is engraved

In the mind of the slave

Who walks around the prison yards

Content in his grave

He don’t want to be saved

Becuz he’s afraid of life

He’d rather hold tight

While his fam visit the sight

And drop flowers off

In the form of currency

Cause currently

He’s lying six under feet

 

CHORUS – 4

Our fears get fed

As our tears is shed

We want to see him alive

But he’s here instead

Words get said

In ways that seem kinda scary

Letters are wrote and read

Like obituaries

I miss you son

I miss you brother and friend

I hold time that was spent

In good remembrance

 

CHORUS – 5

When he call on the phone

They speak to his ghost

Sometimes mom’s voice crack

Cause she miss him the most

His kids need him the most

Yeah they’re feeling the pain

They only know daddy

Becuz they remember his name

CHORUS – 4

It’s a crying shame

That’s why stains be on pillows

And weeping willows

Mourn for his black widow

CHORUS – 5

But he’s subzero

And frozen to the fact

That he needs to rise out of this

Inhabitat! And get back

To life! Where good things live

 

CHORUS – 4

In order to get to heaven

Hell is what he gotta give

 

 

CHORUS – 5

His bid is

A far cry from home

His state number is the

Tombstone!

To mark where they buried his

Bones…

CHORUS – 4

Grave

CHORUS – 5

Prison

CHORUS – 4

Yards.

 

( buzzer) 

 

SCHEDULE

3:00pm

Insulin

Finger Sticks and Shots

 

CHORUS – 4

I never dreamed of a child of mine going to prison.  I never thought about all those people in prison. And now I know to pray for them – each and every one of them – every day.

 

CHORUS – 2

At my son’s prison, there’s a mentally retarded fellow who’s done eight years on 15.  This man comes from a big family – lots of little brothers and sisters – and they live too far away to ever visit.

 

CHORUS – 3

Each year at Christmas time we can order little packages from the prison commissary to be given to our son – for a gift, you know.  This year, my son calls me and asks if we can send him some extra money for postage.  He said that he and a couple other inmates were saving their little packages and sending them to this retarded fellow’s family – because those packages were the only Christmas they’d get.

CHORUS – 4

So if that family’s whole Christmas is coming from packages that were given to inmates in prison . . . well, you can just imagine.

PRISONER

Sparkling coils of razor-tipped ribbon

Atop a metal mesh of fence

Freshly washed by rain

The glint of sun on gray metal

Glistening helix with tiny teeth

 

It catches my eye for a moment

I am trapped within

My eye can soar to the heavens

My heart is blind to the scene

My mind is struck with a memory

 

Ribbon of wire with tiny teeth

Carefully designed to cut cloth and flesh

Now catches sparks of sun

A scintillation, a moment’s hesitation

Helices bejeweled with diamonds

 

I seek the treasure in the trap

GUARD

The joy in the despair

PRISONER

The peace of a simple life

GUARD

The beauty that was not intended

PRISONER

But can be seen and kept as a gift

GUARD

A gift.

( buzzer) 

SCHEDULE

5:30pm

Segregation Food Cart Delivered

(buzzer)   

PRISONER

This place ain’t about rehabilitation; it’s about fear; it’s about anger; it’s about humiliation; it’s about power – who’s got it and who ain’t.

GUARD

It’s about staying strong

GUARD & PRISONER

no matter what happens.

(Chorus steps forward together.)

CHORUS – 5

Don’t we

CHORUS – 1

the Public

CHORUS – 5

have a say?

 (buzzer)

(Prisoner, Guard, and Chorus exit to audience.)

  

ACT II

There is no intermission.  The end of Act I provides the occasion for the cast and audience to tell their own stories about their experiences with the criminal justice system and, as a group, to discuss ways to reform the system.

This hour-long discussion is moderated by an individual who ensures that everyone feels free to tell their story and draw conclusions from their own experiences.  Differences of opinion are welcomed with the instruction that mutual respect for differences must always be shown. 

The last 20 minutes of the evening is reserved to discuss what actions can be taken by individuals and by the group to address the issues that have been raised.

 

Whenever possible, the evening ends with everyone joining in a song led by the DJ.

MODERATOR – DISCUSSION GUIDELINE

  • Thank the cast for taking the time to rehearse and perform Act 1.
  • Thank the people/organization who are sponsoring the evening.
  • Mention:
    • that the poems, raps, and stories in the performance come from prisoners, corrections officers, and their many loved ones.
    • that Thousand Kites will continue to gather stories and help convene public conversations about the criminal justice system.
    • that the audience can go to the Kites website (www.thousandkites.org)
      • to meet others interested in the issues raised tonight
      • to download the play script
      • to share their own stories and experiences
      • to read the stories of others
      • and much more
    • that the Kites website address is listed on the printed material on the tables by the doors.
  • Now, begin Act 2 (the audience conversation) by saying something like, “Now is the chance for each of you to tell all of us how your personal story connects to the experiences portrayed in the play.  Who would like to begin?”

THE END

Voices From Otter Creek:

Incarcerated Women Share Their Stories

 

written by

Cori, E.J., Jean, Judy, Kristy, Mary, and Rebecca

at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility

compiled by

Dale Mackey

 

This play was developed as one part of the Holler to the Hood-Roadside Theater collaboration, Thousand Kites (www.thousandkites.org), a project of Appalshop, Inc., 91 Madison Ave., Whitesburg, KY 41858; 606.633.0108 ã Holler to the Hood/Roadside Theater 2007

Voices From Otter Creek is a collection of stories and poems from women at the Otter Creek Correctional Center, a 750 bed women’s prison that houses women from Kentucky and Hawaii, located in Wheelwright, Kentucky. These stories were gathered through a creative writing class that consisted of writing prompts and story circles.

 

You don’t need theater experience to read or perform Voices From Otter Creek, just a group of women willing to read these powerful stories to start a dialogue about women in prison. The play is adaptable: we encourage you to add your own stories or ideas. It can be read at a house party or in an auditorium. It can be performed by the members of your group, your families, friends, and neighbors, or by your local college theater class or community theater group.

PLACE AND TIME – here and now

 

CAST –Roles for eleven women, of various ages and backgrounds.

 

STAGE SETTING – Eleven chairs are set, one for each cast member. Stage setting and the stage directions included in italics are suggested for a simple staged reading, but not necessary for all groups.

 

 

ACT 1

(1,2, 3 stand and approach microphones)

 

1:

Her delicate spirit peeks through her guarded eyes.

I know her though we have made only the brief acquaintance allowed by our circumstance.

 

2:

In the mire of guilt she reaches into herself to find the fight for another day.

Her hope lives in the hearts of her children.

She falls asleep on a lake of dreams walking the shore with her children.

 

3:

Collecting memories.

Perfection.

She holds the dream like a shield to ward off unwelcome reality.

While her children wait, in another world, for her to come.

 

(1,2, 3, return to seats. All women stand)

 

4:

I am a woman.

 

5:

I am a mother.

 

6:

I am on a journey.

 

7:

I am lost but am searching to find myself.

 

9:

I am holding my breath.

 

10:

I am lonely.

 

11:

I am scared.

 

1:

I am a warrior.

 

2:

I am alive.

 

(All women sit. 8 approaches microphone)

 

8:

I was happy being dead. Everything was dark. It was almost like being asleep. Being dead was like a state of utter calm in our mind you get a glimpse of before waking. A whisper of nothingness before the chaos of the waking world kicks in and you realize how much you have to do that day, and whatever reason you avoid the mirror each morning instantly haunts you. The darkness reached out to me and I felt buoyed by the unknown. Enthralled by the seductive, liquid pull of blackness, I let it take me.

 

I didn’t know I was dead. I didn’t know anything. There was a brief second where I was floating and I felt like a blank slate—tabula rasa I think some philosopher called it. I was not the “smart one.” I was not the fat kid. I was not the girl who got raped. I was not damaged goods. I was not the reclusive weirdo the other kids avoided. I just was. I was how I was meant to be. I existed in a time outside of the normal boundaries established by science. I floated weightlessly in a space with no time outside of the normal boundaries established by science. I floated weightlessly in a space with no stars—the person I was meant to be without the body I’d always been ashamed of. For this brief moment, I had no past—there was no present and the future didn’t matter. I was, for the first time, at peace.

 

“1!…2!..” My eyes popped open as the air rushed into my lungs. The EMT’s hairy hands forces life’s breath back into lungs that had already forgotten their purpose. My heart, like a ballerina who lost the beat of the music, had already bowed out of life’s dance. “3!…” Nevertheless, a neuron I hadn’t yet killed with drugs and alcohol fired somewhere deep inside a brain that was quite ready to give up the ghost. “4!…5!…” Power was restored to all areas and I lived again.

 

And in that instant—I grieved because along with the breath and the heartbeat returned the memories. The memories of everything I was quite happy to forget for that brief moment of peace. I was again that fat girl I never wanted to be. The smart girl I always dumbed down to suit everyone else. I was damaged leftovers of a man with no conscience. I, then becoming the girl who realized being dead was a happier place and spent the next few years trying to accomplish the task a few thoughtless EMTs thwarted with a well-placed chest compression.

 

(8 returns to seat)

(3,4,5,6,10 stand)

 

3:

I am an accident waiting to happen.

 

4:

I am a sister.

 

5:

I am needy.

 

6:

I am defeated.

 

(3,4,5,6 sit. 10 approaches microphone)

 

10:

I am a living storybook.

 

Each prison has a history, you see, unique and all its own—an oral history passed on from inmate to inmate, like some sort of convict chronicle.  The more time you serve, the more stories you collect until you, yourself, are a book—a living tome that differs from person to person depending on the stories they write on the pages of their memory. In my eight years, I’ve collected some amazing stories.  How nice it would be to sip coffee from my #1 Grandma mug at 80 years old and trade tales of our time together, to see our time together as a really long slumber party. But I know that I when I leave here, no one will see it this way.  They we see us as the criminals we’ve been classified as- like the dangerous felon who assaulted an unarmed man, not my beautiful friend, the abused girlfriend, who fought back to save her children. I suppose until you’ve been there the world is black and white.

 

As for me, it has become shades of gray and khaki.

 

(10 return to seat)

(5, 7, 8, 10, 11 stand)

 

7:

I am a decent dancer.

 

8:

I am guilt ridden.

 

10:

I am a dormant volcano.

 

11:

I am lost.

 

(7, 8, 10, 11 sit. 5 approaches microphone)

 

5:

I am still a lost little girl looking for my place in this world, looking for my home.

The problem is how am I supposed to find myself, if I don’t know who I am or where I came from?  “Are you my mother?” I often asked when I was young.

I remember being a little girl and going to the mall with my parents (who adopted me), and who tried to convince me that being adopted made me somehow special;

In fact, more special that a regular kid from a regular family.

 

For some reason this didn’t ring particularly true and I learned at an early age to embrace feelings of self-doubt. Anyway, back to my story.

 

So I would be in the mall, scanning the faces of strangers as they floated by in front of me, searching for that knowing look, that connection that would confirm that I had finally found my mom. I would see her in every face that resembled mine. Fabricating our past, present and future in my young, vivid imagination. I knew that I had to have come from somebody amazing. That way, I could stand to be in my own skin. Yeah, that’s it, because I didn’t want to be someone’s garbage, just thrown away, like the kids in the neighborhood said I was, and I believe to this day, that I am.  I want to be wanted, need to be needed. It’s life’s blood for me, the only reason I’ll be okay.

 

So I think. Uh oh, watch out, thinking can be detrimental, sometimes.

Especially when you believe you’re a fragile flower that’s taken a beating from a sudden summer storm.  Why me, I ask. Why not? I guess all this shit had to happen to someone.

 

Sometimes life and living make no sense, whatsoever.  Having me believe that everybody else was handed the Book of Rules to Life, (or course, behind my back when I wasn’t looking), therefore leaving me to fend for myself.  That’s a lot of pressure on a woman-child who hasn’t learned to grow up, yet.  Only learning by mistakes as I go, if I do learn at all.  The school of hard knocks, reverberating through my soul.  Kin to other ensitive’s like myself, whose feet were never meant to touch the ground.  Angels in a living hell. Mired in the past and unable to function in the here and now.  And calling out for help to people who don’t listen, but wait to talk.  I’m so exhausted, but I have to keep going. If I don’t, who will?  That’s what sucks. Nobody can do it but me. What a heavy  responsibility.  Where does the motivation come from?  I’m not too sure, so I’ll keep searching. And you’ll definitely be the first to know, when I find my way home.

 

(5 returns to seat)

(1 stands)

 

1:

Home.

 

(All women stand)

 

10:

At home I’d chain-smoke cigarettes. Here I stuff my face with food.

 

9:

At home the azaleas blooming reminded me that summer was just around the corner. Here blooming flowers remind me of yet another year spent in prison.

 

8:

At home I trusted no one. Here I’m letting people in.

 

3:

At home I often awoke with a tiny foot under my chin, sharp little elbows in my ribs and a toy in the middle of my back. Here I wake up everyday staring into the blunted lines of a cinder block painted over too many times.

 

2:

At home I could walk around nude in my house. Here I have to be modest.

 

1:

At home I could visit my family. Here I can’t see my family.

 

11:

At home I could go to the beach. Here I can’t go anywhere.

 

6:

At home I had a cat who loved curling up with me. Here the only cat I’ve ever seen was through the fence and looked as frightened of me as the humans are.

 

2:

At home I thought I couldn’t do much. Here I’ve learned how versatile and talented I am.

 

1:

At home I wore colorful clothing. Here I wear khaki and grey.

 

11:

At home I could sleep under the covers whenever I wanted. Here I am in bed from 7 pm until 8 am.

 

10:

At home I had my children there. Here I do not.

 

9:

At home I make $13 and hour. Here I make 80 cents a day.

 

7:

At home I have a family. Here I have memories.

 

8:

At home I’m an addict. Here I’m in recovery.

 

3:

At home I wear pretty underwear. Here I wear granny panties.

 

2:

At home he hurt me. Here he can’t inside the fences.

 

1:

At home I believed in something.  Here I’m not sure what I believe.

 

(All women sit)

(Woman 1 approaches the microphone)

 

1:

I believe that every action has a reaction. Not like in a scientific “butterfly effect” kind of way. More in the sense of being held responsible for your own choices. Every choice I make will impact my future. The dreamy romantic fairy tale loving side of me loves the notion of 3 fates, 3 blind women sitting and weaving the fabric of my life, shaping me into the person I am. But the realistic side of me of me rebels against that thought, my independent streak loves to believe that I control my own destiny. Is my life a predetermined course of events? Or has my path been determined by my past choices? So my whimsical past side clashes with my grounded side in a battle for my beliefs. Do I choose to believe in free will with consequences or a result or do I believe in an inevitable path or chain of events determined before I was born? I’m not sure what I believe.

 

(1 returns to seat)

(2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 stand)

 

2:

I believe in forgiveness.

 

3:

I believe I’ll catch up some day.

 

4:

I believe we’re shown in the light in the strangest of places.

 

5:

I believe a woman should be president one day.

 

6:

I believe I’m innocent.

 

9:

I believe that people were put on this earth to connect with and help each other. These are our two defined purposes in life. This also goes hand-in-hand with the main law of the Universe; what goes around, comes around. One cannot expect to be treated with kindness and respect unless one treats others with the same.

It has taken me 30 years to come to this conclusion. I spent almost all of my adult years being one of the most self-centered, egocentric, and self-absorbed people that I know. I was a slave to my addictions, and spent a long time not being concerned by anyone but myself. I inadvertently made my very existence, despairingly isolated and alone.

 

I remember one particular Thanksgiving when I was homeless and living in my car. I had parked on a ridge, overlooking my hometown in Kailua, in Hawaii. As I sat there in my car, the most intense feeling of loneliness settled over me and all I could do was sob uncontrollably. I could see into the closest homes’ picture-glass windows and everywhere I looked, all I saw were families and their friends enjoying the holiday and each other. Each light I could see in the distance represented something I could never have: intimacy and familiarity with others. It was at that point I realized “I hate to admit this, but I can’t do this by myself, I need other people in my life!” I then decided to reach out to others just like me, who basically had no one, too. I soon found that if I concentrated on helping others, then my problems would all but disappear. When I would really contemplate my situation, there would always be someone who had it a lot worse than I did; I learned gratitude from this. I also found that all was not lost, I could redeem myself…

 

My redemption depends solely on the amount of good I can do for others, and the sunshine I spread in my wake. “How many good deeds are enough?” you might ask. Let’s face it, I have done some damage! I have hurt my children, my parent’s, husbands, my community… And though I can never “erase” my past, I can certainly author my future. I think I will be “reversing” the effects of my choices from now until the end of my time, here. This does not mean that I have to do grand acts of kindness, but something as simple as a smile or a kind word will do.

I invoke a new empowerment to contour the path of my life. Where I once took, I can now give. Where I once was dishonest, I can now tell the truth, without fear of consequence. I can bare my soul and no longer be ashamed of the person I used to be. I now believe that I can be kind and help others.

 

(11 returns to seat)

(7 approaches microphone)

 

7:

I believe in equality.  As far as I can remember I’ve always heard the saying “Stay within your own race, don’t mix.” Especially from the older generation like my maternal grandparents. I guess I heard it from my father’s parents as well, it’s just that I don’t really remember them because my father died when I was very young and his parents were very cruel people and didn’t really like me, my siblings and mother anyways. So when he died, we never really had anything to do with them.

But I remember my uncle, my mom’s brother, being with a black woman and my grandmother disowned him. I liked the lady very much and remember being sad when I couldn’t see her anymore.

 

Although I was told not to mix, I did anyway. My very first boyfriend was black. I was in the first grade. Yes, I know, I was starting off young. But even then, I knew color didn’t matter to me. I had seen everyone as an equal.

 

As I got older I continued to go out with only black guys. This outraged my grandparents. They even went as far as taking one of my boyfriends to their house and basically threatening him to leave me alone. Well, that only made me turn against them. I couldn’t believe how shallow and two-faced they were because they had black friends. They would say, “Kay, we’re not going to have this in our family- for people to talk about us.” So I decided to not have anything else to do with them I went on with my life, dating here and there until the man of my dreams came into my life. Of course he’s a black man and quite a few years older than me. We were together for almost five years when I got pregnant. My grandparents and I were still not on the track that we needed to be. My child was born bi-racial! For a while they wouldn’t have anything to do with him and when they did, they called him Mexican, refusing to call him black.  My grandmother told me it really was hard to accept my baby because of the family he came from because my son’s father’s mother used to be my grandmother’s worker. His mother used to do all the housework for my grandmother. And she believed that my son’s father was trying to get back at her like some kind of racial war.

I told her that was totally ludicrous. We believe in equality. We see no color. She now knows that we’re both in this relationship for love being as we’ve been together for about fifteen years now.  Through this time, we have both encountered discrimination such as dirty looks, words, and so on. We’ve both talked about how our son will be treated during his life but he is now eight years old and very popular in school and sports.  We believe in today’s society that prejudice is something of the past. We both know that it’s ignorant thinking and we instill in our child to be all he can be, to not be deterred by the ugliness of the world. If you ask me what I believe, I can say without a doubt- equality.

 

(7 returns to seat)

(4, 5, 6, 8, 9 stand)

 

4:

I believe broken things can’t be fixed, and sometimes shouldn’t.

 

5:

I believe in myself.

 

8:

I believe there is life on mars.

 

9:

I believe that women are more amazing creatures than men.

 

(4, 5, 8, 9 sit. 6 approaches microphone)

 

6:

I believe you need to always learn as if you were going to live forever and live as if you were going to die tomorrow. This is probably the soundest piece of advice I’ve ever been taught. I never believed it to be true until one of my own life experience.

 

When I was 38 years old I became sick and I let my health go until I fell into a coma and was placed on life support for 28 days.  You see, I was so into my addiction that I kept putting off going to the doctor. I felt I was infallible, not a worry in the world, until I almost died.

 

My body was so busy trying to fight sugar from diabetes that a simple cough turned out to be double pneumonia. I pushed myself to my body’s end. All I remember was being so sick when I went to bed that night I did not care if I woke up. Twenty-eight days later I did. Not being able to walk, talk, write, or even hold spoon to feed myself. It was the toughest life experience I had to fight to overcome.

 

When going through life experiences in your mind, the ones that overcome you with fear are the ones that probably teach you the most. So when I feel like I’m procrastinating something I should do today I remember never put off tomorrow what you could do today because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I hope to always remember this.

 

(6 returns to seat)

(1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 stand)

 

10:

I remember my first car.

 

9:

I remember how I felt when I was arrested.

 

1:

I remember how I looked on the news.

 

2:

I remember the last time I saw my brother.

 

3:

I remember being young.

 

 (1, 2, 3, 10, 9 sit. 11 approaches microphone)

 

11:

I remember a time, a long time ago, when I was an innocent. I had not yet been infected by the “ways of the world”; I had not yet unlearned what a child knows inherently and instinctually. I had not yet learned to be afraid or mistrustful of a “God” who was supposed to protect me. Then it happened.

 

I was just six years old and my mother was dying. I didn’t understand what “dying” meant, but I knew that I was not allowed to make loud noises, or horseplay when around my sick mother. “You have to be on your best behavior, or else…” my dad would warn. We were entirely fearful and did the best that two children, just 4 and 6 at the time, could do.

 

In the summer of 1971, I had been sent to my Aunt and Uncle’s dairy farm, so my dad would have the last few months to spend alone with my mom. I remember feeling as if I had done something terrible, to be sent away like that. I recall thinking, “what did I do, now?”

 

One night that summer, in particular, stands out in my memory.  It was around nine o’clock at night and the phone rang. It was not a normal ring, but one that cried out tragedy into the night. I knew exactly what the ring meant. I began to sob uncontrollably. Inconsolable, because I came to realization that my mom was gone, that she “went to Heaven to be with God,” as it was later explained to me. I was furious with “God,” how could He take my mother from me? What right did this person (or whatever He was) have to take my mom away? Then, as if this god had done nothing wrong, I was forced to go to church and worship Him. “God wanted your mother,” everyone said. I decided then that I hated Him, and I didn’t want anything else to do with Him.

 

The adults in my life wondered, “What happened to our sweet little girl, to her innocence and easy smiles?” Only I knew the answer to this question. In my mind, I had been betrayed by every adult, every one of them, that had been in my life, and worst of all, betrayed by God. This kicked off a lifetime attitude of “poor me” and I felt that everybody owed me everything. My selfishness took on the form of a drug addiction, and my addiction took on the form of spiritual bankruptcy.

Even now as I stare 43 in the eye, I still struggle with spirituality and have more unanswered questions than I have answers. What am I supposed to do about the rest of my life? What scares me most is the fact that almost all people who get clean and stay clean have had spiritual experiences and support to guide them through it. Where does this leave me?

 

(11 returns to seat)

(4, 5, 6, 7, 8 stand)

 

5:

I remember a time when I felt normal.

 

6:

I remember a time when the world was magical.

 

7:

I remember my first pregnancy and my baby dying.

 

8:

I remember using crack for the very first time.

 

(5, 6, 7, 8 sit. 4 approaches microphone)

 

4:

I remember you now, and it’s as if I am there.

 

My mind, my body cramp with fear as I wait at the window for you to appear.

You’re late this morning and I’m on high alert for the sound of your car. I am paralyzed, crazed, and demonized. 11 minutes, 25 minutes, 60 minutes more.

Four hours later comes a knock on the door. No sweat, no problem, no trouble at all.

 

It’s what I live for, the rise and the fall. The doctor with his bag of tricks. I perform the ritual and get my fix.

 

You come like a savior fixing the broken parts of me.  I wrapped myself around you, jumped inside the needle and drown in the warm rush of it.  I don’t know God or believe in miracles but there is refuge in your powerful magic. I sell my hopes and dreams, traded off my friends and family until you were all there was of me.  Alone together we own the night shielded by distance. The terror at bay, the monster is fed. He sleeps for a time in a room in my head. I live to serve this monster inside.   My name is Mary.  I am a junkie.

 

(4 sits)

(2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 stand)

 

5:

I’m sick of wearing khaki.

 

6:

I am scared of vulnerability.

 

7:

I am the queen of wishful thinking.

 

8:

I am lovesick.

 

9:

I am both dreading and looking forward to tomorrow.

 

10:

I am alive because of being incarcerated.

 

(5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, sit. 2 and 3 approach microphones)

 

2:

I look out my window with the bars that divide the world into easy manageable chunks like a mother cutting up her child’s meat lest he choke, and I think, “Maybe like that child I choked on the world because I tried to swallow it whole.” Now, they only trust me with pieces.

 

The bars are cold today and feel comforting against my cheek like the cool, silken hand of a mother on her feverish child’s face. At times the bars are warm from the inconstant, fickle sunlight that may or may not decide to grace us with its presence down in this old abandoned quarry. They built a prison inside an old mine—a hole where men took out what they wanted and threw back in what they didn’t.

 

I don’t know if I would recognize the world again if I didn’t look at it through a fence. It’s become a part of a landscape that was once natural and only ended with the sun. The fences themselves blur the outside world making everything beyond a duller shade of its natural color, like the world beyond this place has no sun, is always overcast. A place that seemed so bright in my memories has all but faded from the fringes of my mind. Only if you look closely, do you see the shapes making up the fence, small holes into the clearer, more colorful world beyond this exile from polite society. A civilization broken up into still more pieces for me to devour at their leisure. More pieces for me to eat one at a time and dream of a day when I can sit down at the table once again. I’ve eaten my carefully measured portions from my plastic, sectioned tray and I feel like I’m ready to take a bite out of the world again—a smaller bite this time as they’ve carefully trained me to do over the last eight years.

 

3:

“A place for everything and everything in its place” I’ve always been taught, but I never really learned where my place is or if I even have one. I certainly don’t feel as if I fit into the puzzle of things here or the fast-paced flow of life outside the razor wire. The pieces of life shattered by a moment of indecision have failed to put themselves back together after this time. I searched for some sort of glue to put it all back together again, but instead I learned that nothing can go back to the way it was—it will always be changed. No, I will never be whole again, but my soul has become a sort of fractal design hanging together by the hairline cracks separating the colors of me, a unique and intricate stained-glass window the world can only appreciate when the light shines through. Now that I’ve picked up those tender pieces and found my place inside, the light I once thought was extinguished has rekindled and my colors are showing more brilliantly than ever before. Sometimes, broken things can’t be fixed, but then again maybe they shouldn’t, because in their breaking something beautiful is made from the pieces.

 

(All women stand)

 

11:

I am doing time.

 

10:

I am my own worst enemy.

 

9:

I am part Cherokee.

 

8:

I am Kekoa’s grandmother.

 

3:

I am a thief.

 

2:

I am going to regain my freedom one day.

 

1:

I am ashamed of my past.

 

7:

I am a role model.

 

6:

I am an impulse buyer.

 

5:

I am crazy, beautiful, and full of energy.

 

4:

I am a woman.

 

(1 and 3 approach microphones. All women remain standing)

 

1:

Only a woman could survive what I’ve been through.

I’d lived a full life by the time I was two.

The abuse, the torment, the lingering hurt.

How could a child be treated like dirt?

 

3:

Only a woman could survive what I’ve seen,

A swift trip to hell at the age of thirteen.

Sadistic and vicious he stole my youth.

At a tender age, I saw the world’s truth.

 

(2 and 3 return to seats, remain standing)

(4, 9, 11 approach microphones. All women remain standing)

 

11:

Only a woman could find strength aplenty,

To go on with life at the age of twenty.

The man I loved and loved alone,

Bruised my face and broke my bones.

 

4:

Only a woman would still be alive,

After holding her lifeless child at the age of twenty-five.

A scream tore my throat as I cradled her head,

And grief grabbed my soul and ripped it to shreds.

 

9:

Only a woman could survive what I’ve been through,

To become the woman I am now at thirty-two.

Strong and capable of laving and forgiving.

To grow from my past and go on living.

 

(9, 10, 11 return to seats and remain standing)

(All women step forward and bow)

 

 

 

ACT 2

 

There is no intermission.  The end of Act 1 provides the occasion for the cast and audience to tell their own stories about their experiences with the criminal justice system and, as a group, to discuss ways to reform the system. 

 

This hour-long discussion is moderated by an individual who ensures that everyone feels free to tell their story and draw conclusions from their own experiences.  Differences of opinion are welcomed with the instruction that mutual respect for differences must always be shown.

 

The last 20 minutes of the evening is reserved to discuss what actions can be taken by individuals and by the group to address the issues that have been raised.

 

Whenever possible, the evening ends with everyone joining in a song led by the DJ. 

Owen County makes WKYT News in 2012

Thanks to our Sponsors who make Fan Fair possible.


Owen County’s 2nd Annual Fan Fair Event was a HUGE success thanks to a community who came together to pull off what others deemed impossible. The Owen County Visioneers are a group of like-minded volunteers who love Owen County and have come together with the goal of promoting tourism and commerce in our community. We want to want to see Owen County flourish and we have a vision that will encourage residents to shop locally and increase tourism. Fan Fair is one of our many ongoing projects and would not be possible without the support of local business owners, sponsors, and volunteers.

Shop Purposefully and Support our Sponsors:

Owen County Public Library Events

Don’t forget to check out the Owen County Public Library Link on the our Home Page.  They have many events held weekly for the family.  This link will take you directly to their website.  You can even check to see if a book is available and much more.

Primary Poppers

The Primary School students are collecting can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and need YOUR help!


We are the STLP Group, The Primary Poppers. We are collecting Pop Tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Lexington to help families with sick children. We are having a competition from November to March between classrooms to see who can collect the most Pop Tabs. The class that brings the most tabs each month will get a McDonalds coupon. The overall winning class will have a lunch with Ronald McDonald in March. You can see the classroom tab totals on the Primary Website.
POP A TAB…CHANGE A LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!