Excerpts From The Prison Ashram Project’s Journal, Inside Out
It’s a pleasure to offer these excerpts from Inside Out, the journal of the Hanuman Foundation’s prison-ashram project.
I wonder how I should begin. Should I say I am happy or sorry to see you all here? Certainly I am not happy to see you in prison. At the same time I am happy to see you interested in Yoga and in making your lives more beautiful.
Cain’s later history was not recorded. We know a few facts, that he was cursed from the ground because of his brother’s blood, that he was doomed to be an outcast and a wanderer, that he bore a mark from God. He fled society and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
... and not a drop to drink ...
Coy Armstrong moved to Cane Creek from Wilkes County in 1922, when he was eight years old. He has walked his land thousands of times, and probably knows Cane Creek better than anyone.
Distillate of Rainbow is an ancient and natural remedy for the relief of tension and nagging worries.
In my tenderest fantasies of people I love but don’t want to scare with my feelings. I lay down with them and nap with them and feel full of us. Anybody I can’t comfortably reduce to a two or three-year-old child, I have a hard time relating to. Even those I see on the street and don’t know but am touched by, I reduce to toddlers. And we are playing together and then nap together side by side and I wake, but don’t move, and just feel the closeness of this person next to me, listen to their quiet breathing and lack of self-consciousness, so naked, and marvel that “he/she lives a completely different life from mine, but here we are together.”
“But it all sounds the same.”
Several years ago I was asked by an instructor in the English Department of a local university to give a lecture on the work of a recent American poet. At first I thought that would be a difficult task, given the diversity of the past century, but then, scanning my library, my eyes alit upon a book of poems by a poet so peculiarly Southern that he had been ostracized by critics and other poets for being overly provincial and at times a bigot. Here was a man, given all his supposed violence, racism and provincialism, who expressed more of the South than any other poet — and as a poet, its soul — and surely within him, I thought, there would be those footnotes to Southernness: sin, redemption, and guilt. I was not disappointed, and I found in James Dickey not only these allegedly “Southern” themes but also something else — that universal struggle betweeen the spirit and the flesh. However grotesque his imagination was, this man, I felt, had more to say about the matter than any other living poet.
When I was ten years old I passed through a period when I could not sleep. Probably the first sleepless night was an accident, or perhaps the first two, but I began to worry about them, and soon I couldn’t sleep at all. Long before bedtime I would start feeling anxious, and however tired I might have been all evening, by the time I was ready for bed I was awake and alert. In my anxiety I would go to my parents, trying to laugh, make light of it all, and they would laugh with me, aware of my worries and wanting not to add to them. We would laugh at my comic arrival in their bedroom, at ten o’clock, eleven, eleven-thirty, at twelve; when it got that late they would say, “Oh David, are you still awake?” and I could see the concern behind their smiles, and perhaps a trace of annoyance, as they let me come with them into their bed, and promised that if I were too tired the next day, I would not have to go to school.
Contrary to plans made exactly one year ago, I awoke this morning, twenty-eight years old, and I still was not enlightened. Or, in the vocabulary of a friend who says “We’re all enlightened, we just haven’t realized it yet,” I awoke still unrealized. I awoke still thinking that there are things I need to do, to be, in this lifetime. I still live with some residual dissatisfaction. I remember having a garden talk with a wise neighbor who says: “Life is filled with dissatisfaction. It’s that dissatisfaction, that frustration, that keeps us changing.”
It is April and the cold wind shears through Spring, sharp and strident, cutting away the warmth that had been nuzzling the earth. The daffodils have been shredded and the azaleas’ fragile blooms are scissored to limp bits of faded rag. We have been lucky, for the wind has had fiercer, funnel-shaped metamorphoses elsewhere. The neighbors worry about the fruit trees and flash flood warnings. The children gaze out the windows, wishing the trees would stop dancing so they can go out and dig in the warm, dark soil again. I don’t know if the little cubes of potato, tenderly placed in the ground to reproduce themselves, have any feelings about the change in weather, but if they could talk I’m sure they’d complain as vigorously as the old farmer in the hardware store. Ah, cruel April, to chill our newly wakened hopes of green Spring days!
Fletcher E. Driscoll felt the day getting warmer. He was in the back seat of a Land Rover, blindfolded. It must be noon, he thought, bouncing along what seemed to be a crude jungle road. Every so often he felt the vehicle dig into soft ground, and heard the splashing of water. Streams were being crossed, thought Driscoll. He began counting them, but lost his place between 17 and 18. Driscoll felt hungry and took several fresh donuts he had brought with him for the journey out of the pocket of his J. Press tropical seersucker. The intense heat had melted one chocolate donut. Driscoll felt the chocolate in his pocket. He saved what he could with his fingers.
The life insurance salesman will be here soon. He will put it to him bluntly: he has responsibilities. In his case, there are photographs of the funeral. He is a handsome corpse. He feels flattered. There is a picture of his wife and daughter, dining in an expensive restaurant. They are dressed in mourning, but they look satisfied when the waiter arrives with the check. The waiter is affectionate. He pats the daughter’s head, slips his hand under the wife’s skirt. She squirms. He draws out a golden hatchet. There is a close-up of the hatchet. His name is engraved on the handle. The spelling is wrong. “NO SALE,” he bellows, hurling the photograph at the salesman’s head. It flutters to the floor like a lady’s handkerchief, damp with tears.
I’ve been corresponding with Carl Harp for more than a year. He’s serving a 95-year-min…