I want to see things differently
Jonas Ellison

Every day, even if the sun is not shining, I know it’s up there. I can envision it peeking out from behind the clouds as soon as it gets a chance.

Similarly, I have learned to change my focus when the condition of my life seems grey, gloomy and hopeless. I take a moment to acknowledge that things are not great and then I change my focus to what needs to be done.

I recognize that I cannot change the world’s ills. I cannot change much but I can do something to change how it affects my personal life.

I have been a prisoner’s advocate, mostly for wrongly convicted lifers, since 1991. As such, I am regularly mistreated. The system is very powerful and it does not like people, like me, who refuse to play the systemic games. I refused to become a lawyer and silence myself.

I could say, “There is no point in writing letters or visiting prisoners who have little chance of conditional release.” I am not a lawyer. I do not believe that the system is too powerful or the odds are too small to bother challenging the way things are done.

I look to other activists like, Audre Lorde, who said, “You cannot dismantle the father’s house using the father’s tools,” for inspiration. I need to know that others have walked before me doing essentially what I do now but I know that their path is only that, a weak little trail that I have to find, and then bring fresh new tools and open the overgrown path anew.

I need MY courage to face those who continually abuse their power: wardens, deputy wardens, guards, any official who denies my written or oral equests for justice or yells in my face, trying to intimidate me. I go inward, to that place of courage, and think to myself, “You are part of the problem. Not me!”

www.poetryfoundation.org › Poems & Poets

Audre Lorde. 1934–1992. A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,”

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